3 ways to bring the essence of summer inside through design, even when it's cold and drab outside

If you're craving sunshine during bleak weather, bring the warmth of summer inside with these style ideas, as suggested by interior designers

Living room with wood floor, teal L shaped sofa, occasional tables and modern art
(Image credit: Future)

It's that time of year again when we retreat back inside our homes, lured by the comforts of a toasty fire and cozy cushions to while away the hours in front of the TV. Meanwhile, the picture outside is pretty bleak: grey skies, rainy weather, and fewer hours of light each day all contribute to a despondent feel. As a result, we turn to our home's interior design to nurture our well-being and offer us the warmth we so desperately need. 

While you might be basking in the novelties of fall right now, the grass is always greener on the other side (quite literally), and soon we'll be longing for the heat of summer once more. Low on vitamin D and craving the carefree feel of a hazy summer day, your mood starts to reflect to the gloomy weather outdoors. 

So, how can you bring the essence of the sunnier seasons into your home when it's cold and drab outside your window? Through the lightness of linen, a coastal color scheme and some organic furnishings, you can bring the warmth of SoCal inside to cater to your cravings. These designers are on-hand to explain how it's done. 

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. She's committed to sharing articles that help readers keep up-to-date with changing styles and add warmth to the home when it's needed most. For this piece, she spoke with designers to gather their best tips on how to bring the essence of summer inside through design, even when the weather outside is bleak.

1. Use light materials and textures for a coastal feel

a bedroom with a woven headboard and neutral bedding

(Image credit: La Manufacture Cogolin)

During the depths of winter, the comfort offered by a thick-knitted throw is unmatched. While the warmth of these heavier textured materials is often much needed, introducing lighter materials made of natural fibers will be more reminiscent of the summer months. 

Texture design is vital when it comes to changing seasons. Rather than opting for a cable knit blanket, give a soft linen or a tasseled herringbone throw a go. They'll still offer plenty of warmth while also conjuring the feel of a summer garden party or alfresco dining. 

You should also take note of the textures used in more unsuspecting places, like your lampshades. ‘Change your lampshades seasonally for maximum impact and functionality,' explains Suzanne Duin, interior designer and founder of Maison Maison. 'Bring a fresh, fashion-forward color into the home for the ultimate refresh during the darker winter months.'

According to Suzanne, 'a natural woven lampshade helps to add a rustic beachcomber feel, without making the look feel too contrived.' She continues: 'The great thing about a natural shade is that it also gives off a cosy diffused glow, particularly due to the naturally occurring gaps in the weave.'

Finally, don't overlook the textures under your feet. Fall is the perfect time to add a rug to your wood flooring, or even experiment with layering rugs for an extra cozy feel. Try introducing a woven jute rug to your floors to offer a layer of insulation while also giving your room a soft, neutral and summery appearance.  

If you're thinking of refurbishing your flooring entirely, consider cork floors for a summery feeling all year round. 'Cork is a material part of the “biophilia” trend, where we seek to connect with nature and organic materials in our homes,' says Bo Hellberg, CMO at String Furniture. It is inherently sustainable and brings warmth and texture to any surface or space, but it’s also ideal for insulating, which makes it great for kitchens.'

Ballard Designs Classic Herringbone Throw
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Ballard Designs Classic Herringbone Throw

This classic woven herringbone throw from Ballard Designs reminds us of a cool beachy breeze on a summer's evening 

2. Decorate with bright and bold colors

A bedroom with panelled walls painted in a soft pale sage green

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

The power of bright and bold colors should never be underestimated. There's a reason why we associate vibrant shades with the summer months - it's the time when plants and flowers are in full bloom, offering an array of kaleidoscopic color. 

If you want to replicate these dopamine-inducing tones, try adding cerise pink, rainforest green, and the turquoise of the ocean to your fall decor. Richer, jewel-toned shades can also inject positivity and warmth into your home while still feeling in tune with the cooler seasons.

Then, of course, there's yellow. 'The use of yellow can create a mellow and uplifting interior all at the same time,' says Martin Waller, founder of global design brand Andrew Martin. 'It transports us back to long lazy sun-drenched days in the Mediterranean and it can brighten us up on gloomy days. It works brilliantly with blues, teals, greens and reds, and for real crisp freshness use with white,' he advises. 

While it might seem counterintuitive to use these summery shades during the opposing seasons, from a color psychology perspective, they can really boost our moods. 'People want their interiors to make them feel good,' explains Jo Littlefair, Co-Founder and interior designer at Goddard Littlefair. 'Whether it’s a cocooning and relaxing spa experience, or a vibrant and uplifting Farrow & Ball space, emotion and facility through the use of pattern, color and accessories is going to continue to be a key part of the next decade of design.'

Farrow & Ball Bamboozle
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Farrow & Ball Bamboozle

To bring the spirit indoors, try painting with Bamboozle, one of Farrow & Ball's 11 brand new paint colors. This fiery red offers the energy of the hot summer sun while also remaining seasonally appropriate as the color of fall foliage and Christmas holly berries. 

3. Bring the outdoors in by adding plants to your space

fiddle leaf fig in the corner of a white dining room

(Image credit: Future)

Spring and summer are months of vitality and rejuvenation. It's the time when flora and fauna flourish, so what better way of evoking that vibrancy than decorating with plants

While the growth of houseplants will inevitably slow down during the colder months, plants will always elevate your space and add life to your home. 'As seasons get colder, bringing green indoors can help ease the transition as greenery helps to transform a space as well as offer more oxygen,' says Courtney Brannan, principal designer at Champalimaud Design

As well as replicating the outdoor environment, the best houseplants have the power to purify the air in your home, helping to reduce stress and fatigue and boost productivity. However, as tempting as it might be to transform your home into an entire rainforest, there are a few things you should be aware of. 

'While I like to use plants to create a seamless transition between outside and in, you should still always be conscious to not overwhelm a space with plants, and carefully consider where you place them,' says Elisabeth Rogoff, from Champalimaud Design. 

Be strategic and use houseplants to compliment a statement piece of furniture, rather than placing them willy-nilly about the home. As Elisabet adds: 'Plants bring liveliness and interest to a space, drawing your focus to certain areas of a room or pulling colors and textures together.'

Monstera Deliciosa from The Sill
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Monstera Deliciosa from The Sill

A classic in interior design, the Monstera Deliciosa instantly transforms a dull and lacklustre room into a tropical paradise. This hardly plant will see you through plenty of winters, too. Place in the corner of your room and allow yourself to be transported to an exotic island 

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.