7 ways to indulge yourself in the romance of summer

06/29/2014 12:00 AM

06/28/2014 5:40 PM

June is sublime in Kansas. During the long, sunny days, I throw open my windows and enjoy the warm breeze, then spend the evening on my patio, surrounded by fireflies. Now is the time to celebrate the romance of summer. Want to join me? The first step is to make your home its romantic best. Here’s how:

•  Create a space just for you. The Man Cave gets lots of press, doesn’t it? I don’t begrudge guys their special retreat. But I also think women need a sacred spot where they can refill. The old porch off my bedroom used to be packed with all the stuff I didn’t know what to do with. Then a few years ago, I decided to turn it into my office retreat.

Is there a room, nook or corner in your house that you can make your own? It may be a spare bedroom you turn into a craft room, or a screened porch, or even a spot in your bedroom where you can escape into a great book. This month, carve out a space that is all yours.

•  Add beauty to utilitarian spots. Every room in your home should feed your senses, even those that are the workhorses of daily life, like your kitchen or laundry room. It just takes treating the utilitarian areas of your home the same way you do your living room. The secret is the details.

When I redid the kitchen in my little lake house, I wanted to make the countertop displays functional yet beautiful. So to make our mealtime grab-and-go area as beautiful as possible, I made it into a display using some lovely pieces from my china cabinet. Dig through your cabinets for pretty glasses and plates you can use as a silverware caddy or to hold fresh fruit for a snack on the run.

Where else can you add a touch of beauty? Why not create a lovely motif on the back of your toilet stool? Arrange your dishes artfully in your china hutch or on open shelves in your kitchen or hallway. Stack your linens beautifully in your bath. Every single spot has the potential to be lovely, when you use your creativity.

•  Find pretty places for pretty things. Little boxes make my heart beat faster, especially when they are filled with beautiful things. Instead of using a conventional jewelry box, I place my jewelry in a sweet glass box in my bedroom. The simple storage makes for a romantic display.
•  Surround yourself with people you love. One of my favorite things to do when I visit a friend’s home is to look at the family photos on display. The carefully chosen pictures give a glimpse into the most meaningful moments in their lives and the people they cherish. Snapshots of my family and friends, of favorite vacations and memorable celebrations, will always be a part of my home’s decor.

Some of my favorites are of vacations I took with my 92-year-old mother when she was in her 60s. The memories of those adventures with Mom are some of my most precious. Showcase your pictures in frames that accentuate your home’s decor, so they become a seamless addition to your look.

•  Indulge in beautiful aromas. When I was at market, I was drawn to this gorgeous line of luxury bath products like a bear to honey. My love affair with Lollia started with the gorgeous packaging. The rep gave me a few samples to try and, oh my, I was smitten.

I adore all the fragrances in the line, but my fave right now is the “Calm” lotion. The company’s website describes the scent this way: “Serene meadows of blooming hyacinth, earthen rooted vetiver and fresh cut iris, cooled by setting citrus sunlight and delicate floral waters.” My description: Heaven. This is one of my new go-to gifts.

My other aroma romance is with Pickwick Candles. Blooming Tulip, which is made exclusively for my store, is my can’t-get-enough-of-it scent.

•  Smell the flowers. There is nothing more indulgent than filling your home with fresh flowers, and there is no better time of year to do so than in the summer. I like to take snips of the hosta leaves and hydrangea blossoms in my garden and tuck them into pretty vases.

One of the ways I can get myself to grocery shop is to bookend the visit with two treats. The first is the floral section, where I pick up a bouquet of flowers or a blooming bush I can put in a cachepot on my buffet or dining table. The second is the magazine rack, where I thumb through home decor magazines for inspiration.

•  Use your prettiest pieces every day. When my store’s designers are hired by customers to help them refresh their home decor, rearranging their furniture and accessories to give their spaces a fresh new look, they are always amazed to find stacks of gorgeous dishes and accents shut away in cupboards. Don’t make the same mistake in your home. Bring out all your beautiful things and use them in your daily life. If you are afraid to serve nightly meals on your heirloom china, use it as part of your decor.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com.

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