June 16, 2013

Summer can inspire decor all year

Steer clear of tacky, but do try all that's wonderful about beautiful, breezy looks.

By MELISSA RAYWORTH/The Associated Press

The sun-drenched colors and inviting textures of summer provide plenty of decorating ideas. The trick is doing it right: A summer-inspired interior can become a tacky, tropical disaster if it's done with too heavy a hand.

click image to enlarge

This bar with its beach-inspired design demonstrates how the sun-drenched colors and windswept beachfront textures of summer provide ample inspiration for indoor decorating. With a light touch and careful choices, summer can provide ideas for an interior you'll love all year long.

The Associated Press/Lucas Studio Inc., Karyn Millet

click image to enlarge

Sandy shades create a calming atmosphere for this living room.

The Associated Press/Lucas Studio Inc., Karyn Millet

But with a light touch and strategic choices, your home can be brightened all year long by the fleeting beauty of summer.

Above all, "do not be literal with summer," says Los Angeles-based designer Betsy Burnham. Avoid putting up a sign that says, "Gone Fishin' " or displaying a collection of seashells on a table, she says.

Instead, try examining the colors inside a handful of shells, then decorating a room in those shades. Or upholster one piece of furniture in crisp, summery linen, rather than slip-covering an entire room that way.

Designer Joe Lucas of Lucas Studio in West Hollywood, Calif., agrees: A life preserver with the words "To the Beach" painted on it may not be something you want to hang up, he says, even if you really live a block from the beach. But a mix of sand-colored paint and ocean blue fabrics can be a tasteful reminder of summers by the shore.

Here, Burnham, Lucas and decordemon.com founder Brian Patrick Flynn offer tips on successfully using summer as your design inspiration.

SUMMER IS RELAXATION

"Summery interiors are best described as relaxed," Flynn says. "While autumnal and wintry spaces are packed with rich velvets and earthy palettes, summery spaces are super-light, unstructured and pretty darn casual."

Flynn uses deliberate contrast to point up that casual feeling: "I like to juxtapose super-relaxed elements such as slipcovers or bedding made from washed linen with super-tailored elements such as tailored tartan or pinstripe accents. The result is preppy, but still casual."

SUMMER IS DISTINCTIVE COLORS

One option is a palette of muted summer colors (sandy beiges, soft driftwood grays, nautical blues), which can be used throughout a room without overpowering it.

Lucas is a fan of very pale gray wall colors that include just a hint of green or blue. They look great alongside natural, pale wood furniture.

Flynn recommends "washed-out blue" wall colors, such as "Krypton" by Sherwin-Williams or "Drenched Rain" by Dunn-Edwards. "Blues with the perfect amount of gray in them tend to be timeless and also work as 'new neutrals' - colors with tons of personality which tend to work well with almost every other hue out there, as opposed to boring beiges and taupes."

These muted blues pair beautifully with white, he says: "The mix of blue and white together is totally timeless, plus it can be mixed up in many different ways to update the look. Almost all colors accent blue and white well."

The other summery option is to go vivid, using grassy greens, geranium reds, deep corals and the teal of tropical waters. Done right, these colors can elevate the look of a room.

"I'm a huge fan of teal and coral," Flynn says. "I especially love them together, since it strikes the perfect balance of feminine and masculine."

But tread carefully. To balance out these saturated colors, Burnham suggests bringing in plenty of crisp white.

Also, Flynn avoids using very intense yellows, "probably because growing up in Florida, yellow was pretty much everywhere I looked, from the sun to home's exteriors to convertibles to swimsuits."

SUMMER IS PAINTED WOOD

"People always think that they have to have their wood finished in a stain," Burnham says.

"Why not a painted finish? Paint your bookcases white... It's summery, but livable year-round. Or try painting a floor somewhere in your house, like a guest room floor."

Lucas agrees: "We're always pushing clients to paint out their dark cabinets," he says.

(Continued on page 2)

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