A guide to Summer-izing Your Home
From the entrance mat to the coffee table, how to give your mountain home a seasonal makeover
May 23, 2018
Anyone who lives in Park City has embraced the "come for the winter, stay for the summer" mantra. So when the columbine is thick in the meadows, the last thing you want your home to look like is that you're still waiting for Santa.
Interior designer Jean Larette has helped clients freshen up their mountain homes for years. The California-based designer, whose work has been featured in publications including Elle Décor and House Beautiful, and who recently created a collection of floorcoverings for Donghia, says that what's cozy and welcoming in winter can seem downright oppressive in summer. The good news, she says, is that "mountain homes themselves, with their elements of wood, rock, stone, and metal, can easily transition from winter to summer."
Step One: Store the Silver Pinecones
According to Larette, the underlying problem in many of the mountain homes she's worked on is that homeowners overdo the winter theme in the first place. "Red and green décor, heavy, plaid fabrics, and reindeer and animal accents present a special challenge in the summer months. Rein in that impulse to go too far with the Christmas spirit and you'll be able to use your home with ease year-round."
For those already committed to a winter aesthetic, there are some quick tricks for embracing summer. First, warehouse the holiday décor. "Store away the silvered pine cones, red-accented dishware, Christmas table linens, and tartan powder room towels," advises Larette.
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But even before you assess your accessories, says Larette, think about your well-being. Your bedding should be a top priority.
"I feel it is the most important area of comfort," she says. "Make sure the duvet has been changed to a lightweight summer comforter and that flannel sheets have been stored away so you can enjoy crisp cotton sheets."
Change the sheets in all guest rooms as well, and you'll have made major headway in just an hour.
Bring the Outdoors In
The basic difference between how you decorate a house in winter and summer comes down to what's happening beyond your four walls.
"In winter the goal is to be cozy and warm and in the summer you want to slide open the windows and doors and let the warmth of summer breezes in," says Larette.
Fresh flowers are a quick and inexpensive way to introduce a big dose of summer. Larette encourages an informal approach.
"You can use mason jars filled with wildflowers that you find on your property," she says. "Purchase hydrangea plants in simple clay pots. Place sunflowers in tall, cylindrical glass vases. The arrangements should have a hand-chosen quality to them. Position them everywhere including the guest bathrooms."
Piles of produce are also in the designer's bag of tricks.
"Place large ceramic bowls and marble platters filled with fruits and vegetables throughout your serving areas," Larette says. I like to keep the groupings simple. Place all the lemons together in a white bowl on your kitchen counter or by the bar. Pears, apples, and oranges all add a dash of color and encourage healthy eating."
Once you've put away the wintery table accessories, bring in the lighter pieces.
"Introduce light colored table linens, preferably white or beige," she says. "Set the table with white dishware and platters. I love thick, irregular ceramic plates that have a homespun quality to them. Rattan chargers add a summery touch. Large glass pitchers for holding generous servings of lemonade with lots of ice and lemon slices are always welcome."
Textures, Scents, Flavors
Think of the change of season as an opportunity to stimulate all five senses. Touch is a big factor. Change out the dark, velvety throw pillows for cushions covered in bright cotton and linen fabrics. Put your faux fur blankets and heavy quilts away until fall and replace them with lightweight, colorful summer throws. Bring in fresh white fluffy towels and thick sumptuous bath mats in all of the bathroom areas. One easy, quick refresher is to spend a bit on a new suite of hand towels for your kitchen: Choose crisp new dishcloths that reflect your summer entertaining palette. And speaking of the way things feel: "If you have heated floors, remember to adjust the temperature for the summer months," Larette says.
Consider your home's scents as well. If you enjoy scented candles, store away the cinnamon, pine, and holiday scents and replace them with fresh summer choices like lavender, iris, and jasmine. Freshening the scent of your home applies to even mundane details. Change out your liquid soaps to light, fresh, jasmine or lily aromas.
Even flavor plays a role in summer-izing your space.
"If you are a wine enthusiast you may want to be sure to have a selection of chilled, crisp, summer wines on hand including Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand along with a few light rosé wines," says Larette.
She says to take stock of your pantry as well.
"In winter you may have a variety of soups and stews and as summer approaches you are eating more salads and fresh vegetables and your pantry will reflect your change to a light and fresher diet," she says.
Stock up on chips and salsas, chipotle mustard for grilled burgers, barbecue sauce, chickpeas for homemade hummus, imported tuna for quick salads, extra virgin olive oil in all its glorious flavors — you're ready for company. And, adds Larette, don't forget to make sure the barbecue is cleaned and ready for the season.
Remember the Mudroom
Larette has clients who erected a two-car shed in their (admittedly large) backyard for stashing seasonal gear: ski equipment and Snowmobiles in summer and mountain bikes in winter. But you don't need a dedicated outbuilding for sports equipment; just rethinking the mudroom can make a huge difference.
Spend an hour or two reorganizing your mudroom and your frame of mind will change every time you enter your home. Move snowboards and skis into out-of-the-way storage spaces and put the cycling equipment and fly-fishing gear — rods, waders, creels, hats — within reach.
And while you're at it, think about the periodicals on your side tables. "Change out the coffee table books and magazines that feature skiing and winter sports to those that emphasize summer activities and pursuits: fishing, bird watching, hunting, wildflowers, swimming and mountain biking," says Larette.
When Money Is No Object
What if you want to give your home a head-to-toe summer makeover, budget be damned? In a sky's-the-limit world, Larette says, "It would be fantastic to slipcover the sofas and arm chairs, and to replace dining chair covers with bright white canvas, which always feels so fresh and summery." On a similar note, "change out the heavy winter draperies for white linen sheers that move with the summer breeze."
Take a look at your floors as well.
"Roll up the heavy wool rugs and replace with sisal area rugs or lightweight flat-weave rugs in bright colors and bold striped patterns," says the designer. And last but not least, "Switch out all the dark lamp shades with bright white linen shades."
First Impressions Count
Finally, as you're replacing the patio's lounge chair cushions and having the flower beds re-planted with annuals, don't neglect the first thing that people see when they visit, says Larette.
"Make sure the front welcome mat is fresh and new, welcoming guests," she says. "It's no longer a snow-covered entrance but,
a warm pathway leading to your summer mountain home."
8 Great Tips from a Local Pro
To get expert advice from a Park City professional, we spoke with Jillian Self, owner and principal designer at design emporium Sticks and Stones. Self says it's easy for homeowners to embrace the area's short but magnificent summers. Here are her top tips:
1. Rethink the layout of furniture. Instead of orienting seating areas around the fireplace, "rearrange pieces to take in the views and to provide easy access to the outside."
2. Take up the rugs. "If you have beautiful floors, pull the rugs out and go bare. Or swap heavy wool rugs for flat weaves, grasses, or sisal."
3. Change your art and accessories. "Replace paintings and photos of snowy scenes and skiing with summery choices. Switch out throw pillows and throws for more colorful, lighter summer versions."
4. Create an inviting outdoor living space. "Here in Park City so many people neglect their outdoor spaces. Guests coming over for a beautiful summer dinner don't want to sit at a wooden picnic table all night. Buy a few comfy chairs, do some potted flowers, and get a fire pit going. If your outdoor space is enjoyable, you're going to use it a lot."
5. Let nature be your designer. "Go for a nature walk and bring in fresh-cut flowers and branches from the yard — I like to collect birch and aspens, pussy willows, even scrub oak."
6. Make a trip to the nursery and start a vegetable garden. "Lettuces, strawberries, baby potatoes, carrots — you can grow all of them, even in our short summer. And don't forget herbs like basil, chives, and thyme, as well as rosemary, which you can bring inside in winter."
7. Appeal to all the senses. "Put together playlists that sound like summer. Introduce natural textures in driftwood, rocks, and wicker. Whip up a batch of sun tea."
8. Relish the season. "In the mountains, alpine structures look just as beautiful in the summer as they do in the winter. Open up your doors and windows and embrace full mountain living."
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