As we segue into summer our thoughts turn to sundowners on the terrace, lazy lawn picnics and finally flinging open the windows to be at one with the great (or perhaps not so great if you're a city dweller) outdoors.
Summer marks that point in the year where we reconnect with those outside spaces that have now taken on an even bigger significance in the past couple of years.
So what seasonal switches can you make in your own home to mark the advent of summer? 'Summer decor isn't just about switching up to lighter colors,' says Livingetc's editor Pip Rich. 'In fact, warmer tones could be more seasonally appropriate, evoking the heat of a tropical afternoon.'
Read on for the weekend projects you can do now to get your home summer-ready.
1. Add warmth
The unspoken rule has always been lighter, brighter shades for summer and cosseting dark tones for winter but this year is different. 'What began as the trend for terracotta last spring, a yearning for rich, warm shades that spoke of holidays in the Med, has seen a lean towards those really deep, darker tones – red-based brown living rooms, burgundies, and violets,' says Pip Rich, Editor of Livingetc.
While this may seem like a heavy choice for the hotter months, the key is striking a balance with materials and fabrics: softer linens in richer tones, natural woven living room rugs and tactile, organically shaped earthenware accessories – kudos if you've actually managed to scoop these up on your travels. The result is gently sunbaked rather than stifling.
'People living in urban environments often crave a calmer interior environment to come home to at the end of the day as a contrast to their busy lives; shapes and tones that soothe the body and mind and natural textures are a really effective way to achieve that,' explains Sheena Murphy, founder of New York-London based design studio Nune.
2. Introduce outdoor materials
Key pieces made from materials traditionally reserved for outdoor furniture goes one step further in bridging the two spaces for that ultimate summery vibe. Plus, there's the added level of durability that comes with a piece made to weather the outdoors.
'Travertine tiles were originally used outdoors in palazzos, beloved because of how hardwearing they are. Red travertine is a big new trend – it's a fiery take on this marbled stone, bringing heat to an aesthetic while being cool to the touch,' says Pip Rich, editor of Livingetc. 'I've got my eye on a round, red travertine dining table which will feel like I'm breakfasting on the terrace even if I'm having dinner indoors,' he adds.
Play with unexpected pairings in contrasting textures – a wrought iron lamp crowned with a wicker shade, for example – to soften these harder materials and them and make them more palatable for indoor use. Alternatively, look to pieces you can use both indoors and outdoors (weather permitting): a woven chair or rattan drinks trolley that can be whipped out when the sun shines.
Hand & Eye lighting studio looks to the outdoors when it comes to design, explains co-founder Alex Johnen. 'When we started designing in terracotta, we were inspired by everyday external objects like terracotta chimney pots and flower pots. We’ve taken a more clean-lined approach to our designs but they still fit into the organic and natural look that we tend to associate with the outdoors,' he says.
Other Hand & Eye designs are made from outdoor cladding and recycled glass: 'Our A-Beam and O-Beam lights are made from large ceramic extruded pieces more often used as building cladding material, while our Io wall light is made from recycled ceramic and glass waste. It looks rather like terrazzo tile and to me that sort of floor tile (similarly terracotta tiles and brick pavers) is something that I associate with indoor/outdoor spaces – we loved the idea of taking something designed for the exterior and bringing it inside the home,' adds Alex.
3. Grow indoor trees
The demand for house plants reached fever pitch peak lockdown and it's clear this is no flash-in-the-pan fad. In fact, design folk have raised the bar by adding fruit trees to schemes for that authentic orangery feel.
'Specifically, all of the architects I speak to currently have avocado trees, while all the interior designers I speak to have black olive trees - both indoors,' says Pip Rich, Editor of Livingetc and co-author of A New Leaf, a book that explores the connection between design and plant life. 'Plants are a wonderful way to really notice the arrival of summer. By filling your home with them you can see them suddenly grow and bloom at a rate of knots as soon as summer rolls around. That connection to nature, having something to care for, helps you appreciate the season, appreciate the moment,'
It's a sentiment that resonates with Nune's client base, explains Sheena. 'The pandemic made many of us feel a stronger need for our homes to provide us with a more meaningful connection to life outside, so not only are we seeing more plant life and florals enter our homes – both literally and figuratively – we are seeing an increase in physically blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living. Whether we’re working with a large terrace or garden or a small Juliet balcony – it’s become a big priority for many people,' she says.
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Catriona Day is a freelance lifestyle and interiors writer, working both agency side and in-house to help brands find their voice. Stints at two independent estate agents who specialise in selling architecturally-inspired dream homes only fuelled her fervour for seeing how different people live (read: nosy). She has a lot to say on pretty much any subject homes-related and will talk with wild abandon on the topic of movie-related interiors until the subject is firmly changed. Her obsession with sourcing Portuguese pottery and rehoming unwanted lamps remains unchecked, much to the despair of her husband.
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