Summer is swiftly approaching and the days are already sunny and bright. School is almost out and it’s time to relax. When vacation time rolls around each year, do you find yourself collapsing with relief into that beach or lake house and saying things like “I wish I could live like all year long!” Here’s the news: you can! You may or may not you have amazing vacation plans, but why not turn your own house into a vacation home? Free yourself from the expectations of suburban living. Who says you have to use your grandmother’s dining room set in that room you only use twice a year? Who says that you have to have a predictably conservative display when guests walk in the front door?
As a green architect one of my mottos is: A loved home is a happy home is a home that lasts … and few things have a smaller carbon footprint than a house that has lived a really long life. So, in effort to love the house you’re with, how about trying some of these summer home makeovers?
Rearrange the furniture. Those rooms you never use? How about using them. Get rid of the stuffy furniture and put in something your family will use. How about a game table and some cushy reading chairs. Re-name the living room ‘the Moosehead Lounge’. Pretend the power is out and tell ghost stories on Saturday nights.
Lighten the load. Take all of the stuff — the clutter and the knick-knacks that have been sitting there for months or years — and put them in a box in a closet. Clear the decks. Allow there to be wide open surfaces. Pretend it’s a rental! Artfully place a few items that really make you happy now. Pick out things that make your family laugh.
Freshen up. Paint a room your favorite color. Try something light and uplifting and make a place you can sit and quietly watch the sunlight and shadows dapple the walls. Don’t be afraid of color. Go with your gut. Look at the color palette and notice which colors makes you feel good. Chances are these are the colors that will make other people feel good too. Go for it!
Breathe in, breathe out. Do you have your windows closed all season and the air conditioning on? Ceiling fans have come a long way. Add some cool new ceiling fans to key rooms in the house. Open all of the windows and let the natural breeze pass through the house. Smell the flowers. Listen to the birds.
Let the light in! Seize any opportunity to let natural light into the house. Take a look at your window coverings. Are they keeping the outdoors out a little too much? Maybe get some sheer, light and airy curtains that flow in that open breeze. Clear furniture away from windows so you can sit or sleep right there. Better yet, make an outdoor room. Incorporate your deck or patio into the house by adding a trellis and outdoor curtains. Allow open flow between indoor and outdoor space.
Clean green. Get rid of any chemical cleaners. Use natural ingredients like vinegar, lemons and baking soda. Get out all of the dust, pull out rugs, and scour the corners. Check walls and behind furniture for mold and mildew. Feel the hard wood floor beneath your feet. Inhale clean, fresh air. Know your family is healthy.
Most of all, have fun!
Elizabeth DiSalvo is the principal of Trillium Architects in Ridgefield, Conn. To contact her, email [email protected]