Home Style: Get ready for summer

Mary Carol Garrity

After a busy spring, I can't wait for the long, languid days of June and July, for lazy After a busy spring, I can't wait for the long, languid days of June and July, for lazy Sunday afternoons spent reading a good book on my screened porch, for Saturday evenings out on the patio, enjoying a great meal with dear friends.

There is no better season to showcase today's hot hues than summer. Everywhere you turn in the next few months, you'll see happy colors on display. Try adding just a pop of color here and there, and see what you think.

That's what I did a few years ago in my living room. My cream-colored upholstered furniture is the perfect blank canvas for experimenting with color. While the combination of apple green and navy has held my heart tightly for the past few years, I'm beginning to be equally enchanted with coral. For my spring open house, I added a dab of coral by plopping matching coral pillows down on a pair of armless side chairs, and putting an interesting coral-colored vase on the chest behind the chairs. I was startled by how much this corner of my living room brightened up.

Try the same at your home. Work in a pillow or two in a new color (it's easy to do –– just slipcover one of your existing pillows), make a simple table topper out of brightly colored fabric or lay down an inexpensive flat-weave area rug. You'll feel like you pulled back the drapes and let the sun shine in.

Summer is the season to slow down and take time to dream. There is something so energizing about taking time out to let your mind wander. How else can you hatch new plans? To dream big, you need a quiet spot that soothes your senses. At my home, one of those spots is a small iron bench that sits in a secluded corner of my courtyard garden. On more than one occasion, I've found my husband hiding there, enjoying a cigar after dinner. And the cats love to nap on this bench in the afternoon sun.

It's easy to create a dreaming spot. First, find a quiet niche someplace out of the fray, indoors or out. Outfit your retreat with a comfortable seat. Then, surround yourself with things you find beautiful.

I really love homes that have a welcoming exterior. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a creative touch to the door or plants on the stoop. This summer, I've spruced up my front door with a light blue-and-white transfer-ware plate. I fastened a metal plate gripper around the plate so I could hang it from my doorknocker with a soft, cream-colored silk ribbon. Then I tucked in a few sprigs of white faux spring blooms. It looks fresh and light.

I love planters full of live plants in the summer, but I am not much of a gardener, so my front porch always features the same easy-care plantings. You'll find two-balled topiaries planted in matching black iron urns on either side of my door. The concrete urns that are built into my front-porch railing always hold Kimberly Queen ferns. I am hooked on Kimberly Queen ferns because they are readily available, inexpensive and thrive despite the abuse they suffer from me.

In summer, I like to add a few fresh touches to the regular decor. This year, I'm using pottery crafted in standard shapes featuring a cutout design that allows light to shine through. I put one of these huge white cutout temple jars on a pillar in the corner of our screened porch. It brightens up the corner, adding some chic shine and interesting texture. The cutout pattern ensures that the vase doesn't obstruct the view of the garden behind it.

Whenever I entertain, I like to use as many fresh flowers as I can. It may be as simple as grabbing a bunch of sweetheart roses, cutting the stems short and creating a tight bouquet in a small vase or jar, then tucking it on a side table. Or it may be sweet-talking one of my friends who can work wonders with flowers to create a few showy floral displays for my dining-room table, entry or buffet.

The column has been adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com.