DECORATING Give your house a summertime makeover

A few well-placed items in summer themes or colors can do the trick.
MONTEREY, Calif. -- Just as we switch to shorts and tank tops during the summer, so you also might want to consider a wardrobe update for your home to reflect the season.
The good news is that giving your home a summertime look is as easy as changing as few strategic home accessories. Sometimes it's a matter of rearranging and re-emphasis -- or even just putting away the heavy, bulky items until winter.
Local designers and store owners note that it's not necessary to buy new furniture or make expensive changes to get that lighter, brighter look. A few well-placed items in summer themes or colors can do the trick.
The bounty of the garden, once brought inside, gives an instant summertime lift to the room. And the flowers, fruits and vegetables don't necessarily have to be authentic.
At Rooms in Bloom, a store in Oldtown Salinas, Calif., baskets of faux artichokes and vases of silk tulips add bits of color, looking just about as good as the real thing.
"They're absolutely great if you don't have a green thumb," said Vivian Cascio, who opened the store with her sister Yvonne Maganay close to two years ago.
Realistic fakes
The trick, Cascio said, is if you do go for fabric blooms, to choose the high-quality type, which are almost indistinguishable from real flowers.
And the flowers don't necessarily have to be in vases. Cascio notes that floral garlands are a nice touch. Potpourri adds fragrance and texture, and dried flowers embedded in candles are an unusual and intriguing look.
Many summery-looking fabrics are printed with images of fruit and flowers as well.
Real flowers and plants, of course, are also suitable for those who don't mind the upkeep. Mini-topiary plants and orchids are especially popular these days to bring a bit of Mother Nature indoors.
Even the scent of a room can be changed for summer. Cascio said many of her customers head for floral aromas in soaps and candles during the warmer months, like jasmine, lily of the valley, and lavender.
Christine Alexander, an interior designer in Carmel, Calif., likes to add a touch of the beach when decorating for summer.
She buys clear glass hurricane lanterns from Cost Plus and fills them with seashells and Carmel beach sand for a quick and easy focal point.
"I also like to use groupings of seashells on a table, or around a candle," said Alexander.
She also notes that fruit and vegetable replicas continue to be popular, typically in an attractive basket or other container. Some of her customers like the ones made out of porcelain, which are collectible.
Alexander agrees that it's not necessary to change everything around in the room to make it seasonally appropriate. A few little touches can make all the difference.
When it comes to a room's fabrics, think light and bright. And light in two regards: light in color, and lightweight. Nothing heavy will do for summer.
Alexander notes that slipcovers for sofas and chairs can add a different look, and are inexpensive and readily available from catalogs or retail stores like Kmart and Target. The washable ones are ideal for people who have pets or children.
Alexander also likes covers for dining room chairs, especially for entertaining.
"You can add a bouquet of silk flowers or tassels tied to the back," she said. "It's a nice way to dress up the chairs if you're having a party."
Soft touch
Just changing your living room pillows can make a big difference in the appearance of the room. Alexander exchanges her wintertime pillows in bright Chinese red for light tan pillows in the summer, which is easy to do in a room decorated in neutral colors.
Cascio said that fabrics are quite important to the seasonal look.
For summertime, she's carrying napkins and placemats in clear shades of green, red and yellow.
Draperies are another area to explore, said Cascio and Alexander.
It's easy to exchange heavy drapes for sheer panels, and inexpensive ones may be found at J.C. Penney, Pier 1, and many other retailers that carry home furnishings.
Cascio even advocates changing what's on your walls. Framed prints with garden scenes or botanical subjects are especially suitable for the summer months.

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