During the winter, your apartment was a warm, cozy retreat. The fireplace blazed, a chenille throw blanket was a welcome addition to your couch for those cold nights, and your dark, heavy drapes kept the cold air from entering through your apartment windows. Soft, fluffy pillows lined your couch, perfect for propping your head (or feet) on as you sat in front of the fire.
Now, the fireplace is a dark, gaping hole in your living room, the chenille throw is cloying, the draperies block the brilliant summer sun, and those pillows are just getting shoved aside or tossed on the floor. It is time to lighten (and brighten) your apartment for summer!
First, put away those pillows, the throw blanket, and the heavy drapes. Store them in a bin under your bed or in a closet, or place them in your storage ottoman. Clear out the winter clutter, and while you are at it, discard any knickknacks sitting around that you don’t like (that elephant statue Aunt Edna gave you for Christmas? Hideous! She’s back home now … she’ll never know).
Don’t think that decorating for summer means you have to rush out and buy new things. You can easily decorate with what you have, or you can make new. For example, find that glass trifle bowl you only use at the holidays for your famous butterscotch-pudding-and-nutter-butter-cookie dessert. Fill it half full with sand and put a white pillar candle in the center. Fill around the candle with seashells – and perhaps a starfish or two. (Or, if you live near the coast and collect beach glass, try sprinkling this around for a unique look.) There! A centerpiece for your coffee table or dining room table that didn’t cost a penny.
Now, about that fireplace … it is so pretty in the winter, when it is being used. During the summer, it just looks sad. Clean your fireplace out and go on a hunt around your apartment (or at local garage sales) for summery statues — cast-iron bird statues, a garden gnome … a gazing ball … whatever you find interesting — and set it in (or in front of) your fireplace.
You can make a simple “fireplace screen” that is only used in the summer (when the fireplace isn’t on). Find a wood frame (or make one) and spray-paint it a lively summer color. Attach screen (you can find this at the hardware store), and then attach some “found” branches (spray-painted different colors). Very carefully (use gloves to protect your hands) cut out some “leaves” from aluminum cans. Sand the edges down a little so they aren’t sharp. Hot-glue the “leaves” around the branches (leave them with the colors of the cans visible or you can paint them). To make the screen more kid-friendly, use craft-store beads instead and you’ll have “berries” instead of “leaves.” Prop this up against the fireplace and enjoy your colorful (fake!) fireplace screen.
Outdoor furniture is perfect to give your apartment a “summer” look. Take a wicker table from your balcony or patio and use it to brighten up a corner (add some flowers in a colorful pitcher). Also, look for items that are traditionally used outdoors (yard statues, decorative flags, etc.) and use them around your apartment – it will bring the outdoors in.
About those windows – the ones that are now bare, since removing those heavy winter drapes? You can leave them bare (especially if your window has blinds), or you can add lightweight fabric shower curtains with a bright, summertime theme (flowers, fish, palm trees). You can also use those decorative outdoor flags in front of your windows (use clip-on rings to hang) or even linen tea towels.
If you want a beach-themed focal point for your wall (over the fireplace or behind the couch), look for an old window at local flea markets and garage sales. Find a shelf that is the same width as the mirror and attach it to the bottom frame of the window. Paint the window and shelf the same color. Find some beach-inspired scrapbooking paper and cut them to fit each frame (a different paper per frame). You can add a few decals or stickers in front of the paper, or place some “window clings” directly onto the glass. Hang it and place some seashells, a candle, and other summery items on the shelf.
There! Now that your apartment is ready for summer, get out and enjoy the warm temperatures! (Collect items from your summer travels. You can fill a glass jar or vase with some sand and add your mementos and photos to make a unique diorama.