Summer Style All Year Round

Living room with nautical decor

Who doesn’t like summer? Whether you think of a short vacation at a beach cottage, an extended weekend in a cabin in the woods, or a summer-long retreat to a cozy place on the lake, there’s nothing like summer to rest and reinvigorate yourself.  With the right décor choices, you can get that laid-back, kick-off-your-shoes style all year long that allows you the flexibility and freedom to express yourself.

First, choose a restful palette of colors like whites, neutrals, blues, yellows, or even the patriotic combo of red, white, and blue. These colors work especially well for a welcoming, bright and breezy nautical or cottage look. For more of a cabin or lake feel, incorporate some red and winter green (I know- winter green? Red and green together? it seems like the antithesis of what you strive to achieve; but trust me, it works).

Next, simple fabrics like linen, seersucker, blue and white stripes, white or faded blue denim, as well as ginghams and plaids fit the bill on furniture, curtains, and pillows. Even needlework and rag rugs fit in this category. Mismatched fabrics, including combining several plaids or florals, play well together for a summer décor.

When I think of summer style, I think of unpretentious, casual, and eclectic. Both your hard and soft items can be informal, even a little distressed, or rough around the edges.  Think simplicity and relaxed charm. Don’t dismiss slipcovers; a summer style calls for them. Also try a mix of old and new. Pair vintage pieces like metal trunks, paint-by-number framed art, old quilts, rocking chairs, and antiques with existing or new pieces. You’d be surprised what you can do with thrift store finds and/or family hand-me downs.

Most cottages and cabins I’ve seen have some type of plywood or knotty pine paneling. To update this look for your home, add painted white paneling along one wall or add wainscoting and a chair rail along all walls in your room to add instant charm.

When it comes to furniture, don’t forget that outdated and gently worn furniture can be painted. Even the crackled or distressed paint treatments are right at home in a summer rustic décor.

For those of you who are fortunate enough to own a summer get-away, you know you don’t want to spend a lot of money on decorating or spend a lot of time cleaning, so small is better than grand. Less is more. In other words, keep it simple and uncluttered. This might mean no window treatments or rugs or just not a lot of accessories to dust.

By all means, make the space personal. Collections and groupings like old family photos or humble souvenirs of your travels are perfect choices to adorn your space. So, too, are landscape or seascape artwork.

Add natural elements to get that summer feel, too. A wicker trunk or chairs, a driftwood chandelier, or a simple bowl of collected sea shells fit beautifully with this style.

Finally, if you want that nautical look, add shells, sea glass, lighthouses, ships, starfish and the like … but don’t go overboard (pun intended!). The same goes for hunting, fishing, wildlife, or woodsy themes for a cabin or lake-house look.

You can find inspiration in magazines like Coastal Living, Cape Cod Magazine, Cabin Life, in furniture showrooms, on websites, and on Pinterest. From pretty to primitive, almost anything goes.


With many satisfied clients since 2008, Barbara Graceffa owns and operates Secretary of the Interior in Quincy, MA offering decorating services at reasonable rates. If you have a blog topic to suggest or need professional help with decorating, downsizing, decluttering, or home staging and relocation services or wish to learn more about her decorating workshops and quilt trunk shows, please contact her via her website www.sec-interior.com or phone 617.921.6033.

By Barbara Graceffa

Barbara Graceffa, CEO of Secretary of the Interior, serves decorating clients; assists with professional organizing, home staging and moving assistance; teaches on these subjects; and delivers quilt lectures and trunk shows.

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