It might still feel cold out there but it is, believe it or not, summertime and if you missed the spring cleaning, it’s time to think about how you can bring some sunshine inside – particularly when there’s none outside.
There are plenty of things you can do that cost little or no money and will make your home feel new and fresh. After all, we’re desperate to throw off those winter woollies for something lighter and brighter so why shouldn’t we do the same in our homes?
Marianne Brandi, creative director of uber-cool Danish brand Day Home, whose pop-up shop has just opened in Liberty (until 10 August), says it’s very Scandinavian to change your soft furnishings with the seasons.
“We change our clothes with the weather, why not our houses?” she says. And when you put it like that and you’re looking at images of her eye-wateringly gorgeous homes (Copenhagen and St Barts) who are we to disagree?
“That is part of the whole philosophy behind Day Home,” she adds. “We do two collections a year and you change with the seasons. In winter it’s all wool, velvet and cashmere – if you are lucky enough to have that – and in summer it’s about lighter cottons and silks. It’s easier to wash and it’s more casual.”
So you’ve been told. Here’s what to do to update your home with the seasons and get yourself a little bit of that Scandinavian style.
LIGHTEN THE DÉCOR
When it comes to soft furnishings, Chrissie Rucker, of The White Company, is another big fan of the seasonal décor change. “In summer I use lightweight fabrics in white or soft colours and then mix up the textures to make it more interesting,” she says.
Some interior designers suggest that we should all have two sets of removable covers for the sofa and chairs, one in pale summer linens and the other in rich berry velvets for winter. Now, most of us can’t run to that (even if we could be bothered to change the covers twice a year) but there’s nothing wrong with changing cushion covers to something a little more pale and interesting. Or swapping a faux fur throw for something a little lighter, as Marianne suggests.
You can also remove heavy velvet curtains and hang some lightweight summer blinds for a change. If it’s a bedroom, then white blackout blinds will deal with the early morning light and add a clean fresh look (the Ikea ones are great value) and you can buy a two-pack of washed linen curtains for £34.99 from www.hm.com.
Another idea is to change your lampshades. Follow the same principles as with the cushions; warm berry colours for autumn, creams or pale greys for summer.
Finally, if you have lots of rugs on the floor in winter, try lifting them up for summer or, perhaps treating yourself to another lighter one. Again, you don’t have to spend a fortune on them.
Next thing you need to do is:
“There’s nothing like a really good clear out to make you feel better,” says Carmen Morris-Coulson, of Plan My Life (www.planmylife.co.uk). “This is the perfect time of year for a declutter as it will make your house feel bigger and brighter and you will start to love it again.”
The first requirement for a declutter is bin bags and new storage. Carmen suggests filling a large kitchen drawer with lidless plastic pots into which you can sort spare batteries, pens, phone chargers etc. Apply the same principles to the cupboards and get rid of any old, chipped crockery that you no longer love or use. “You will have to tackle your desk too but the last time I did mine I found a cheque lurking in a pile of papers so you never know,” she says.
A visit to Ikea will also buy you masses of storage for not much money. Carmen likes the Expedit Range of bookcases, which you can fix doors onto and slide boxes and drawers into. “You can hide things behind the doors and use boxes, which you must label, for all manner of stuff from toys and paperwork to photos and all your filing and you can change it round as your requirements change.”
And if you really can’t face it then there are plenty of professionals who will do the job for you – for a fee.
FRESHEN UP YOUR PAINTWORK
We’re not suggesting you do the whole house, but moving that pile of books from the floor to the shelf may have revealed some tatty paintwork that is chipped or covered in tiny muddy handprints. Now is the perfect time of year to sort that out. You can touch up what you already have or perhaps, be bold, choose a light summery colour for one wall. This will totally change the look of the room and will be easy enough to paint over for a darker, warmer colour in a few months time when you want to feel cosy again.
CLEAN THOSE WINDOWS
It’s a shame to go to all that hard work and not be able to see the benefits. Not only does the sunlight streaming through reveal just how dusty your windows are (or it will when it comes out) but the frames might also need painting. This is a perfect summer job as any weak spots and damage will have been exacerbated over the long winter months – and they were long this year. Call in a couple of local decorators and get quotes for painting the windows and perhaps the front door while you’re at it – a bright colour for summer will also cheer you up in November. If you haven’t got a window cleaner and no-one’s come knocking, then visit www.windowcleanerdirectory.co.uk to find one in your area.
Obviously you will need to clean the inside of your windows too. Christina Strutt, author of Cabbages and Roses Guide to Natural Housekeeping (www.cabbagesandroses.com) is full of advice on how to use natural products for cleaning: “White distilled vinegar has had hundreds of different uses over the past 10,000 years and it cleans windows to perfection. A solution of one part vinegar and one part warm water sprayed onto glass and rubbed with a soft dry cloth, followed by crumpled newspaper will work miracles,” she says.
And if you’re still not convinced, a recent article in the Financial Times found some people who pay up to £750 twice a year to have their rooms seasonally updated. Exactly.
The full interview with Marianne Brandi of Day Home will be coming soon.