Late summer makes conflicting demands on window treatments. On the sunniest days cool rooms are a sanctuary, but when the weather is unsettled we want to let the sun shine in. As the days shorten and lights are turned on earlier, we need more privacy yet still want to make the most of bright mornings. Sheer and semi-sheer curtains give seclusion and their languorous quality matches the mood of the moment. For fine control over the level of light, shutters are a good choice. Slatted designs with adjustable blades allow you to manage the light easily, while tier-on-tier and cafe styles give even more flexibility. Solid shutters will keep the temperature down and protect soft furnishings from fading. They are offered by many shutter manufacturers but in an older house, consider reinstating original examples or search antiques shops and salvage yards for reclaimed ones.
The first step to creating an interior with a sense of summer is to maximise the feeling of light and space and that’s easy to achieve through the medium of wallpaper. Opt for pale neutral tones and cool, receding colours such as blue and green to visually open up the area, and select patterns featuring flowers, foliage or simple sinuous, curving shapes for an impression of calm. The aim is to devise a scheme in which the walls are a complementary background that enhances but never dominates the furniture and objects within them.
As borders begin to fade, thoughts turn to houseplants. Succulents and cacti keep memories of holidays in exotic places alive, while leafy tropical varieties create a vibrant conservatory atmosphere. Experts at the Flower Council of Holland advise: ‘Group plants that need similar watering and humidity. Cacti, succulents and aloes require minimal spraying, while tropical plants like low levels of light and prefer not to have their roots standing in water.’ If you lack time to tend plants, get the look by investing in faux versions. More realistic than ever, and with a huge variety to pick from, they make a luxuriant, long-lasting display.
FABRICS OF LIFE
There are two ways to approach summer style. One is to build a gentle scheme around shades found in nature; the other is to furnish with festival brights and sharp geometrics. The latter relies on paintbox colours for a happy, upbeat look and a sleek, slightly modern edge to add spice to a traditional interior. The picture on the left demonstrates the versatility of this approach, with the geometric sofa fabric providing a lively counterfoil to the curtains’ timeless floral design. It is a combination that works well, thanks to the fabrics’ shared colour palette. With bold schemes, making the transition from high summer to autumn can be a simple matter of accessorising with deeper shades. Here, the addition of a bottle-green stool and turquoise lampbase gives the look a more mellow feel. The dining room (right) looks gloriously summery in this setting but add jewel-coloured tableware and an amethyst or jade-coloured rug and the mood will change to something cosier and more intimate.
Natural floorcoverings are a versatile choice for summer. Used alone, they’re a discreet background for brighter furnishings, but when extra colour or warmth is needed, they can be overlaid with rugs and runners. Made from plant fibres, they are naturally cool to the touch and come in a range of woven textures and colours, from light straw to rich brown. If you wish to add a seasonal splash of colour, rugs are an easy way to introduce it and they can be rolled out over virtually any natural or carpeted floor. Flatweave rugs, including kilims and dhurries, have a smooth surface that seems appropriate for summer. They come in an array of colours from traditional earthy tones to vibrant hues, at prices to suit all budgets.
ROOMS WITH A VIEW
Adding a conservatory or orangery to your home not only increases your living space but also creates a room with a garden view that you can enjoy whatever the weather. It’s also a place where indoor plants will thrive. Expanses of glass ensure the room is always bright but, says Lisa Morton, director of Vale Garden Houses, with forward planning you can capitalise on the natural light. ‘In a large orangery used for different purposes, twin glazed roof lanterns help to zone the space by directing light into separate areas of activity.’ By blending the indoor and outdoor spaces you will give a feeling of continuity and improve the flow between them. Position doors so that they open directly on to a terrace, and use matching floor tiles throughout to blur the boundary between house and garden.
An instant mood changer, paint has the power to transform. For a summery scheme that will look good under winter skies, choose the warm tones of a garden as flowers wilt and the season draws to its close. Green is a classic decorating colour and in interiors, as in nature, it harmonises with any shade. Bear in mind that greens vary, producing contrasting effects depending on whether they incline towards blue or yellow. Match them to their perfect colour partner or create a monochromatic verdant palette composed of different tones. Deep, luscious pinks are the classic partners for green and bring a feeling of comfort as the temperature begins to drop.