Light, Bright, White Summer Décor

Private Property South Africa
Cathy Nolan

Think of your home as a summer rental, and you'll see it in a whole new light. Throw open the doors and windows, pull back the curtains and get rid of pieces that are dark, gloomy and fussy. Stow away heavy accessories, throws and all unnecessary décor items until it's time to cosy up again in April. Think light and bright. And this year, think white.

The beauty of decorating with white is that it changes shade as the light changes. A sun-bleached palette can become a warm ivory in the evening when lamps are turned on. It’s easy to add interest by layering different shades: eggshell, alabaster, ecru, cream, taupe and mushroom in their lightest hues all fall into this spectrum. And going all-white doesn’t necessarily mean that a few neutral tones are forbidden. An old metal chandelier can find new life thanks to white-ish paint and a few dangly crystals. A few coats of paint and some light sanding can turn a dark piece of furniture into an accessory of note.


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When your walls and furniture are all white, your accessories take centre-stage. This summer it’s time to have fun with accents and do away with the expected. A collection of compelling objects is more interesting as a table centrepiece than candlesticks. The bright hues of a rug made from recycled plastic draw the eye against a neutral backdrop. Think glass mosaic tiles in bathrooms and kitchens. Think mirrors – every decorista’s favourite ‘rabbit in the hat’ – to brighten up small spaces.

Covered in crisp white and dressed for dinner, modern chairs add a touch of minimalist formality to a white dining room. Slipcovers and simple window shades are easy and inexpensive ways to white-up a room. And they can easily be chucked into the washing machine when spills threaten to ruin your pristine scheme.

When decorating, expensive or difficult-to-change elements are best left neutral. Consider the variety supplied by a creamy wool rug, white linen slipcovers, glassy organza pillows, and a silky throw. Contrast can come in the form of single-colour accents or foliage. White space, when interrupted only by an occasional plant or expanse of wood, seems cool, calm, and collected. Fresh flowers and plants help unite indoors and outdoors.

But colour tastes and trends change, and in a child's room especially, it's nice to have the luxury of a new look fairly often. Opt for an all-white scheme for bedding, walls, and furniture and you’ll find it’s easy to swap out the coverlet, pillows and throw, and use a metre of fabric to add a shot of colour and pattern to a headboard. All of these are easy enough to change and will make it seem as if your child has a new room every season.

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