Summer Home Decorating: Let the Sun Shine In


Switch up the linens, wash the windows and liberate yourself from cold-weather captivity

I like to mock the annual “Summer-ize Your Home” story that the design media serves up around this time of year. Swapping Aubusson rugs for rush matting and slipcovering all the “winter” upholstery seems very “Brideshead Revisited"—fantastically excessive behavior from another era that most people have neither the time nor cash to pull off. So when my editor asked me if I’d like to cover the Getting-Your-House-Summer-Ready topic, I snorted heartily and said "no way.” But then, when I actually thought about it…I did know a few people who could benefit from a little summerfication. Self included.

Summer Home

BREEZY DOES IT: Design heiress Carolina Herrera Jr.’s toile-upholstered bedroom feels as airy as it looks.


The hobbit. This friend keeps the blinds permanently closed. Sitting in his beautifully decorated but pitch-black grotto, you’d never know the time of day, much less the season. The blinds are shut for a reason: filthy windows! The fix: Wash your windows with Ecover window cleaner and old rags. Bask in the increased sunlight and in-focus view.

The shut-in. This chick prefers things hermetically sealed. It is forbidden to open a window in her beautiful and clean townhouse. Sadly, all the decorating in the world can’t compete with the (free) luxury of a summery cross breeze. The fix: Open opposing windows and marvel at this gift from nature.

The fakers. Some geriatrics I know like to keep faux flowers and plants around. They are actually good fakes, but still…where’s the joy in that? The fix: My favorite for summerizing the living room mantel are geraniums in miniature pots from Guy Wolff. While you’re at it, try a fern on a plant stand in the corner.

The sad sacks. These two tweens share a room featuring un-made twin beds—originally cute, but way past their prime due to mismatched sheets, synthetic Disney sleeping bags and a stack of anorexic pillows. Luckily, it’s easy to get this room fast-tracked for summer (and overflow guests). The fix: New sets of matching linens from Pratesi and lively coverlets from Haus provide an instant makeover that works for master bedrooms as well.

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F. Martin Ramin for the Wall Street Journal

Corral three stacks of swirly Italian drinking glasses, a pitcher and a bowl filled with lemons and limes on a tray on the kitchen counter – permanent and stylish relief for thirsty summertime visitors.

The make-do-er. This poor woman has no proper drinking glasses. I have no idea why, but whenever I am offered a beverage, it is handed to me in a coffee mug or a plastic cup. The fix: So that this may never happen again, I suggest corralling three stacks of swirly Italian drinking glasses, a pitcher and a bowl filled with lemons and limes on a tray on the kitchen counter—permanent and stylish relief for thirsty summertime visitors.

The dirty girl. Her brown velvet sofa is crusted over with the crumbs of a thousand goldfish eaten in front of the TV. The fix: To brighten the look and make cleaning easy, a lightweight Coyuchi washable throw draped over the cushions is the next best thing to summer slipcovers.

The fish cooker. You know where I’m going with this. Whether its scented sticks or a candle, this lady needs some olfactory relief. The fix: My favorite summer scent for the home is Cire Trudon’s aptly named Balmoral candle—a dewy castle garden in wax form.

—Ms. Ruffin Costello is a design consultant and style journalist in New York.