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A Summer Wardrobe for Your Home

Story by Sarah Gonzales

The weather is heating up and the sun is shining brighter – this isn't sweater weather anymore, so why is your sofa still covered in chunky throws and your windows heavy with thick velvet drapes? It's time to lighten up your interior space and brighten your home's décor with these summer style tips from the design experts.

It's All About Color

The season's color palette is big, bright and bold – on your body and in your home. "This spring and summer is all about color with a capital C," says Jill R. King, interior designer and co-owner of Red Carrot Design in Anchorage. We're talking about sunny yellows, pool-water turquoises, popsicle oranges, grass greens and watermelon reds – an in-your-face range of color that's a modern throwback to the psychedelic swirl of the summer of love – fun, funky and unembarrassed.

The same hot hues that are livening up our closets are also being found in the bathroom towels, the throw rugs, the sofa pillows and the living room curtains. "If you want to try something new in your interior, look to your closet. Like in fashion, color is everywhere, from colored jeans to floral prints," says King. "If you just purchased those orange suede wedges, then you are ready for orange candles, vases, kitchen towels. Start small in a color you like. Experiment."

Pick Up Milk, Bread and Home Décor

Updating your home's summer wardrobe can be accomplished through ordering custom items or by simply taking a trip to the market. Either way, the idea is to freshen up your look, lighten up the textures and add bold bursts of color throughout your home - even a bowl full of lemons can provide a fresh, fun and colorful focal point to your home's summer wardrobe. "It doesn't have to cost a fortune to make a meaningful change," says King.

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A simple place to start a seasonal home makeover is in the housewares section of your local market. Tamara L. Spaulding, interior designer and owner of the Fairbanks-based Spaulding Interiors, took us on a variety store tour to pick out her favorite summer pieces to show that seasonal decorating can be convenient and affordable. "Start with a colorful welcome mat and let it inspire your summer color palette," she explains, pointing to a rainbow of hues on a mat that sells for around $20. "Then carry these colors throughout your home." Bring orange and turquoise to the dining table, for instance. "Keep the table set all summer with chargers and placemats so there's always color on the table and you'll be ready to entertain," she says.

Choosing one item to inspire a room's color profile is Spaulding's sage design advice: a playful shower curtain in a mod multicolor print is matched with an array of different colored towels; a pair of bird-print throw pillows dictates the bedroom color scheme for coverlets, shams and curtains; simple and inexpensive rag rugs introduce both color and an easy bohemian look to the kitchen, perfect for laid-back, last-minute summer barbecues. Accessorize with big bursts of summer color by filling a clear glass vase or metal drink cooler bucket "with Granny Smith apples" or "potted flowers like hydrangeas" – it makes for a high-impact, living centerpiece for your dining table, indoors or out.

Bring the Outdoors In

It's a happy day when you can leave the back door open and walk from kitchen to deck in bare feet; you're not only enjoying the fresh air outside, but also letting it waft through the indoors. "Open up windows and doors to help freshen rooms and provide natural ventilation to replace winter staleness of the home interior," says Charlene Steinman, an interior designer with Jensen Yorba Lott in Juneau. "Views to the outside spaces are important, so accessories like outdoor hanging planters, flower pots, wind chimes or other indoor-outdoor accessories help extend your living space to enjoy the outdoors during the summer," she adds. 

To take full advantage of the summer colors and light, make sure your view to the great outdoors is crystal clear. "Wash your windows," says Cheryl Murphy, interior designer and owner of Hot Elements in Anchorage. She points out that with all the colorful summer happening outside, it takes more than just an airy curtain to frame the season. "In Alaska, you can never get enough sun, and the best way to brighten your home is through clean windows."

Once those panes of glass sparkle, Steinman recommends choosing "window coverings that are flexible to allow daylight in and to shield glare on warmer days when needed," she says. "Heavy opaque drapes can be tied back, or taken off altogether for the summer months to allow light in, and help brighten interior spaces."

Maximize the bright space and blur the line between indoors and out by strategically placing mirrors to reflect the outdoor greenery or colorful hanging flower baskets, says Murphy. "A well-placed mirror will bring in light and act as a new window."

Move outside

The sun is shining, the garden's in full bloom and the grill is beckoning you. Go ahead: Extend your indoor living spaces to the outdoors. It all starts with flexibility.

"People entertain more during summer months, taking advantage of outdoor seating, barbequing and firepit areas," sys Steinman. "So elements from the interior may need to be transportable to the exterior spaces." Consider durable indoor/outdoor rugs, dishware and table linens in an array of colors and carry that palette right out the back door to the outdoor chair pads, umbrellas and even hanging lanterns.

From the front porch to the back deck – and all the interior areas in between – summer lets us be as creative and funky as we want to be with our wardrobe, and hey, why not share a wardrobe with your house? A batik pareo will make a perfect outdoor tablecloth just like those backyard flowers in a vase will really lighten up the fireplace.

Resources: JensenYorbaLott.com; SpauldingInteriors.com; HotElements.com; RedCarrotDesign.com