Home Designing Tips for the Summer

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If you're feeling the summer heat and are looking for a relaxing, cool refuge, look no further than your own home. Here are some designing tips to cool and brighten up your home this summer.

If you do not have large shady trees, shade your front door to give the illusion of a cool shelter by adding umbrellas in large pots to the landing. Furthermore, a wall water fountain near the front door can add ''cooling sounds to support your sense of hearing. You can make a standing water fountain with a small pump, a container with no drainage, a water plant like a common reed, and pebbles. Deep shade and water sounds invite you to linger outdoors while promising further respite inside,'' writes Jeanette Fisher, author of Home Staging with Design Psychology and researcher into the effects of environment on emotions.

Fisher also advises using white and blue iridescent accent lights, finding light bulbs that mimic natural daylight to reduce eyestrain, and using more light sources instead of a few bright lights at twilight to soften the lighting.

To give the illusion of being on a tropical vacation, switch around your furniture. Bring some patio furniture and potted plants indoors while putting comfortable armchairs outside where you can relax with a good summer read.

Add oscillating ceiling fans on low speed to family rooms, bathrooms, and living rooms to mimic tropical breezes. Avoid placing the fans above dining tables, as they tend to cool food quickly. Ceiling fans can cool a room by six or seven degrees, and you will save on air conditioning costs. Even if run for 12 hours a day, most fans cost less that $10 a month to use.

Planting shrubs or trees that shade air conditioning units will cause the unit to use less electricity. You can also save on heating and cooling costs year-round by planting deciduous trees on the west and south sides of your home.

Fisher advises lightening up your home atmosphere by storing away heavy, dark knickknacks and dark lamp shades, and temporarily replacing darker artwork with white wood-framed mirrors, which will expand your space visually. Add fresh colors, scents, and textures to your home with potted plants in the garden, fresh cut flowers in decorative vases, bowls of fresh seasonal fruit, and bright new cushion covers, slip covers, and throw pillows in floral prints or summer pastels. Add white lace to dark wood tables to produce a softer summer look, and experiment with white furniture.

Use a color palette of blues, greens, and whites in a room and decorate with seashells to bring a soothing ocean feel to your home.

Remove large rugs to reveal hardwood, ceramic, or laminate, which all feel cool under bare feet, and replace heavy curtains with bamboo blinds or linen drapery panels to give a cool tropical look.

To reflect heat away from the house, install white drapes, blinds, or window shades and close them against east-facing windows in the morning and west-facing windows in the afternoon. Do not place televisions, lamps, or other heat-generating appliances next to your air-conditioning thermostat as it will cause the air conditioning to run longer.

''Browse through Elle, Harpers & Queen, Architectural Digest and other house and garden type magazines, drive through the best neighborhoods, travel, talk to people to work out what attracts you to a particular lifestyle. Just because you have always lived a certain way does not mean that you cannot seize the moment, change, and feel invigorated as a result. How do you think the New World was settled — by people taking a few good ideas with them and then adapting them to the local surroundings. There is no copyright on a good idea. Look around you and learn from what you see!'' advises House & Garden Design.
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