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When summer is in full swing, people are more than happy to take advantage of the great weather, bright sun and outdoor activities! It gives us a chance to explore and reconnect, not only with people we may not see as often as we’d like, but also with the outdoors and ourselves.

Many people may not realize that summer also offers a unique opportunity to freshen their décor. Whether you decide to make design and decor changes indoors or outdoors, your choices will refresh your space and help you feel like a special guest in your own home. Even still, as an adult, the mere mention of summer brings the word ‘happy’ to my mind. Summer is a lighthearted, playful time of year, and with a little time and effort, your home can reflect this carefree attitude. Here are a few ideas to get you in the spirit of the season.

Move the Living Room Outside

Extending your living area outside and connecting with your surroundings seems natural during the summer months. There’s almost something decadent about having another separate living space outside. I mentioned in a recent blog post that outdoor patios and porches are perhaps the most underutilized area of our home. They offer an amazing opportunity to expand our living space and our square footage. During the warm summer months, outdoor spaces should be a continuation of your interior spaces, and making them mirror your interiors is an easy way to do so. Create a living area outside this summer and see what happens! Include seating to encourage guests to sit, socialize and relax. Anchor the area with an outdoor rug that echoes your décor inside. Using outdoor chairs and ottomans that are comfortable with colorful fluffy pillows and cushions made from weather-resistant fabric is an excellent way to make an inviting area no one will want to leave! There are also numerous accessories available that will help thread the look of your interiors into your new outdoor living spaces, such as art, mirrors and wall clocks that will make any outdoor room look complete. Don’t forget to add end tables and a coffee table for convenient places to set food and drinks.

To create the ultimate outdoor living room, consider having an arbor added to your backyard that incorporates the use of fabric panels to create your own personal cabana. I’ve found that adding a pantry area for clients to house candles, matches, plastic plates, cups, barware, napkins and a few serving pieces is a welcome addition to their outdoor area and saves unnecessary trips back and forth to the kitchen. The finishing touch for kids and adults alike is an outdoor fireplace or fire pit to help them stay warm on cool, early summer evenings, and it is a perfect place to roast a few marshmallows after dining al fresco with friends. Remember, it’s summer and it’s all about light-hearted fun!

Create a Cozy Nook

Whether it’s indoors or outside, the kids probably need a quiet space for summer reading during their three month break from school; or you may need a space to get away from the kids! A reading nook is the perfect place to escape. Take a look around your home or outdoor space and get creative, as long as it’s quiet and comfortable, with adequate lighting. Most importantly, a reading space should be a peaceful area free of noise and the traffic of a household. Surround yourself with objects, colors and textures that make you feel at ease, and be sure the area is relatively clutter-free. Don’t forget to incorporate the use of a small table to make room for a glass of water or an afternoon cocktail! This is all about time for you.

Create a Summertime Tablescape

Summer is the perfect season to entertain family and friends and who doesn’t love a summer meal? Since the heat of the day is in the afternoon, guests will enjoy an early brunch or an evening dinner party. Have fun arranging the dinner table with tasteful, lighthearted summertime elements, like shells and flowers, candles and glass candle holders. Whether you favor formal or casual, eclectic or traditional, try using a variety of different colors, textures and patterns. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to make an impact is with the addition of fresh flowers and potted plants. Freshly-cut, brightly colored flowers from your own garden or from the floral section at your local store make such a difference in your home and at a table! Avoid using heavy, dark or bulky vases and let the flowers take center stage.

Liven Up the Colors in Your Home

It’s no secret that color has an impact on our moods and plays a major role in any design project. Understand that colors behave in three basic ways: active (reds, yellows and oranges), passive (pastels, blue and green), and neutral (crème and white). Dark colors are sophisticated and cozy and they give large rooms a more intimate appearance. Light colors are expansive and airy and they make rooms seem larger and brighter. Personally, I enjoy combining both in my designs for clients while maintaining an overall feel, because I want them to be uplifted and happy when they use their rooms. Since summer is all about a fresh, happy feeling, take advantage of the bright summer sun and increased light levels and choose bright and airy colors or patterns, using those that incorporate the feeling of the season.

You may also enjoy incorporating fun summer accents like brightly colored vases, vintage glass bottles filled with sand or shells, a few antique frames and wicker baskets. Summer is also an excellent time to replace your throw pillow slipcovers with bright, happy designs or just replace your pillows altogether!

Install a Summer-Friendly Door

Consider swapping your traditional front door for one that’s a little more charming. Though we live in coastal Southern California, I’ve spent a lot of time on the East Coast. So perhaps this is why I’m so drawn to this little-used feature when I see it here. A Dutch door is divided horizontally into two half-doors, and either half can be left open or closed, letting in the warm, summer breeze. If you don’t want to change your front door, consider installing one leading to the back porch. Keeping the top open allows conversation to flow easily during parties between the house and backyard or when the kids are playing outside; and the kids love the cool factor of having a door that opens in two places!

Illuminate the Backyard

Summer entertaining isn’t complete until you set the mood with lighting. There are so many options from candles and chandeliers, to candelabras, sconces and hurricane lamps. When considering an evening with friends, I always, always, always brighten a table and dark corners with candles. If your outdoor area is large enough, weave several strands of garden lights through the trees or highlight a path, stairs or pool edge with luminaries. Luminaries are containers or sacks filled with sand and a candle and there are gorgeous upscale ceramic or metal versions available through outdoor living stores. Candlelight will twinkle through the holes in the luminaries, allowing light to bounce around and flicker in the dark, throughout the evening.

Summertime is a time when we are energized and full of ideas, so it is an excellent time to incorporate new ideas into our home décor and design. This summer, give yourself permission to let your imagination go a bit and see what kind of changes you can incorporate into your own living spaces!

Nicole Cavanaugh

Mind, Body + Home
Interior Design
Nicole is the founder of Cavanaugh Interior Design Group. Her goal is to provide people with functional designs of spaces.
Read more about Nicole and her mission here