by Pat Stelzer
Yeah, sure it is! Summer months can often bring more confusion, more work and less time for sprucing up décor around the house. People in and out, rushing to ball games and pool parties. Family festivities. Yet, summer does offer a unique opportunity to carry style outside and allow creative ideas to be used in unexpected ways. Any motif that is part of the interior can easily be modified to enhance areas of summer lounging or entertaining. Use clever touches in flowerbeds and on porches and patios to keep decorating an extension of the inside of the house.
Don’t overlook the obvious. An old plow stuck among the trees, an antique bucket filled with flowers, or clever signs and decorative items hung on the walls of porches all bring the inside feel to the outside living space. Old nail barrels or wooden tubs make great end tables and can withstand the less than gentle treatment summer entertaining often brings. Old rockers make an inviting sitting area on covered patios, and colonial style wooden benches (a little more intricate in design than standard park benches) can be made more comfortable and decorative with cushions or pillows done in a fabric that carries the inside style to the summer gathering spots. Many fabrics are available that can repel water and have patterns to fit into most decorating schemes. Plaids and checks go well with all types of décor, and much of the water resistance fabric can be found in flower prints that blend well with garden touches. Old vinyl tablecloths can be recycled by being made into coverings for pillows and cushions. Saves money, which is always a plus.
Anything that bespeaks a love of the United States is certainly “in” this year, and red, white and blue make great additions to the outside décor of a home. It doesn't’t necessarily have to be stars and stripes. Blue and red cushions on chairs, a white table covering with blue or red trim and a wooden flag on the wall say “I love this country” as well as flag prints do. It’s a little more subtle and easier to work with when adding other decorative items to the setting. Solid colors blend well with patterned dishes, plants that are incorporated into the area, or a much-loved antique. Solids aren't’t “busy” and create a more relaxed atmosphere, a plus during summer cookouts and parties that seem to be a little more activity driven than winter get-togethers.
Lighting is also an important asset when decorating outside, be it on a porch or in the garden. Several types are available from the low, muted lights used to surround walks and paths, to the strands of small, clear lights used on Christmas trees. Those strands of unused Christmas lights work great when hung around the inside of a porch roof, and they give off enough light to sit comfortably and converse with friends after dark, but use little electricity, give a softer glow than the traditional porch light, and never have to be dusted! They can also be entwined with ropes of artificial flowers or vines, then looped on small hooks, making the wire almost invisible. Protected candles, those in jars or lanterns, give a soft luminous glow to outside living space and can add a special scent to the evening air.
Personalize the outside living space the same as the inside. Use a collage of garden tools and prints if that’s a favorite hobby, or make a sport the theme that tells visitors about the occupants of the house. Bits and pieces of golf, fishing, boating equipment, even old yard games like croquet mallets, add a nostalgic touch to the outside area. Use whatever is meaningful and pleasing. Just remember to keep it low-key and not overwhelming for those who come to visit. And make it simple enough that it doesn't’t need constant upkeep. Sit back, relax and enjoy those supposedly lazy days of summer. They are too few in number for most of us!