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Summertime Simplicity in Your Home Decorating

Here in the Northeast, summer is almost here. With hot humid weather approaching-it's already here in the southern part of the country-we can learn a few tricks from our grandparents. Before air conditioning was common, most housewives prepared their homes for the heat of summer. They knew the windows would be open letting in dust as well as fresh air. Children would be home from school and running in and out, dragging sand and dirt with them and dripping water from wading pools on the floors. Afternoons were a time to sit on the porch and drink lemonade, read a book, and visit with neighbors. No one wanted to be cleaning and scrubbing in 90 degree weather.

Our grandmothers prepared for the hot and humid weather by packing away the heavy rugs and drapes and those things in the house which made it harder to keep up the house. Chairs were covered with washable slipcovers, knickknacks were packed away so they didn't need to be dusted and the home was made as low maintenance as possible. This resulted in a clean, stripped down effect which was cool to look at and required less work to keep clean and comfortable during the sweltering days of summer. It was much easier to dust a clear surface or mop a wood floor than to clean around all of the small decorative objects we tend to collect or run a sweeper over the oriental rugs. Decorations were flowers and fruits of the seasons. Lace and linen mats were used instead of heavy linen or damask cloths. Sheer curtains or sun blocking shades were put at the windows. Many women had summer china. Food was prepared in the cooler mornings and eaten cold for supper. Houses looked cool and living was less formal.

These days many of us have air conditioning and it isn't necessary to pack things away to make the house low-maintenance for the hot weather. However, if we use these same principles there are pay offs for the modern homeowner. Clear the table tops and shelves, simplify the table arrangements, put away the heavy bedspreads and curtains. If you wish to decorate there are lovely 'throw away' decorations made of paper or straw. Try a pleated paper fan on the mantel or a glass bowl filled with river rocks or shells. The result of this simplifying is that we have a home which appears cool and fresh.

For full-time homemakers, being able to get the housework out of the way by lunch time gives us afternoons free to play with our children, go for a swim, or read a book we haven't had time for over the winter months. For those of us who work outside the home, it makes a nice change to be able to spend our free time in our yards, or walking in the park, sharing pool time with our children and having picnics. We spend less time taking care of our homes and have more time for our families and friends and for those outdoor activities which we enjoy and which help us to store up good health for the winter. When we are inside, our homes are more relaxed and have a casual summery feel. Our homes don't have to look like beach cottages but the plainness gives them a kind of simple elegance. Why waste time in caring for our homes when we want to be outside hiking, gardening, or playing tennis and enjoying time with friends and family?

In the autumn when the weather starts to cool, we can bring out the heavier items and place them around the house. They will give our homes a new look and we can enjoy our homes and possessions much more because we've had a break from looking at them and caring for them.

Content for this article was provided by ON THE GO 4 U design consultant, Suzanne Copenhaver, who has years of experience with decorating the less than perfect space.

Indra A Books, author of this and many other lifestyle articles, is the owner and founder of ON THE GO 4 U, Personal Shoppers & Concierge Service in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The company's creed is to provide its clients with the ultimate life management experience. In addition to its shopping and concierge services, ON THE GO 4 U also publishes a monthly e-zine and conducts workshops on wardrobe, entertaining and decorating. For more information about the author and ON THE GO 4 U, please visit

© 2005 Indra A Books for ON THE GO 4 U

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