Have a summer fling with colour

You’ve shed your winter coat, cleaned your boots and shoved them to the back of the closet and brought out your brightest crayon-coloured sneakers and T-shirts.

Isn’t it time to give your home a summer fashion face-lift, too?

In winter, we want to huddle and hibernate, wrap ourselves in cosy warmth and shut out the cold, cruel world outdoors. In summer, though, we open wide the windows, toss off those fusty old layers of fabric and carpeting, and welcome in air and sunshine.

All very well and good to think about making a summer house – but how to do it? Start with the basics: walls, windows and flooring.

Summer starters
You may not be up to a total paint-over for the season, but try hanging pretty floral prints instead of deeper-hued paintings and prints. Swap heavy frames for bright, primary-coloured ones, and think about devoting an entire wall or a section to your kids’ summer masterpieces. Their playful shapes and colours will make the atmosphere fizz like a cherry soda.

It’s definitely time to get rid of heavy drapes or curtains. Simple white or natural cotton tab-tops suit lazy, carefree summer days, or just use airy sheers and blinds. If you have windows that don’t need covering for privacy, hang a lacy valence across the top and let the clouds and trees outside provide the pattern.

I’m not really a fan of heavy carpets, but bare floors in old houses can get pretty chilly in the colder months. Wall-to-wall carpeting doesn’t appeal to me for year-round use, though. I’m in favour of well-behaved rugs you can roll up in summer to show off gleaming bare floors underneath.

If you want a rug of some kind to pull the room together in summer (or for the dog/cat to lie on), look for lightweight woven floor coverings in beach-bright or soft sunset shades. They’re easy to care for and bring the look of a southern beach house to your home.

Choose your palette
Give your rooms an easy summer makeover by giving the colour palette a little spin. Summer colours fall into two main categories: sherbety, beach-glass pastels and vibrant, tropical brights. You might not want to live with either choice forever, but either one can liven up your house for the summer.

Find your inner summer self by looking in your closet (yes, that’s what I said) and your garden or another favourite place outdoors. The colours you find there are the ones to use for your summer décor fling. If you’re into black and white, or practical dark shades that don’t show the dirt, check out your fashion accessories. Jewellery, scarves and handbags are other sources of inspiration.

Grab some coloured pencils, markers or crayons and make colour swatches to help you remember your colour direction. Then…

Wave your magic colour wand
Look for spots where you can daub in a highlight of your chosen tints. Swap out fleecy winter throw pillows for cool, sleek summer solids or even rain forest prints. Put away those cozy winter wraps and set out a few lightweight shawls in soft flower shades or exotic patterns.

If you have the cash, invest in summery slipcovers for upholstered furniture. Clear, soft green makes a nice summer background, as does crisp white. (Plain woven fabrics, please – skip the suedes, brocades and so on). If your heart sways to a reggae beat, dress your furniture in Caribbean blues, glowing tangerine/mango or palm-leaf greens.

Finish off your city summer house by bringing in cheap and cheerful tableware for the season. Striped or printed plates, glasses and table napkins were made for summertime. (Don’t use them all at the same time, unless you want a Planter’s Punch headache). Alternatively, cool your table with white enamelled metal plates and let all the other hues flow around them.

Splash around a little colour or a lot – summer is short and it’s meant for fun.

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