How To Create The Perfect Summer Home

Can you believe that it’s going to be Memorial Day weekend? Oh, how I love this time of year. Today, is a beautiful, breezy, mild day with low humidity. Rare.


That means, it’s time to talk some about decorating for a summer home.


Now, a summer home could also be your year-round home! OR, a summer home could also be a winter home in the south. Frankly, I think it could also be a winter home in the north.

A summer home is more of a lifestyle. And that can really apply anywhere, I think. But, especially for any home near an ocean, lake or river.

Summer home is synonymous with a relaxed, casual lifestyle.


Does it have to be all blue and white?


No, it doesn’t. But, most of the time, I think that there should be some blue and LOTS of white, off-white and possibly some other pale shades.

And, of course, a summer home could be in the mountains or woods.  But, I feel that those homes are also winter homes in most cases.

The other thing that a lot of people do is have one look for their winter home and then change up certain parts of it for the summer.

For instance they might:

  • put slipcovers over the upholstered furniture. Although, I love this look year-round
  • change the draperies to something lighter
  • occasionally change pillow covers
  • and, sometimes accessories, art and even some of the furniture.


Do any of you do any or all of that? That would be fun to see or at least hear about.


Miramar_Sofa_White_Slip_Summer HomeAbove is the Miramar sofa from Serena and Lily with a slipcover. Underneath could be a different fabric for winter. They are having a 20% off sale right now on EVERYTHING for Memorial Day weekend. Until midnight eastern time, use code: VIPDAYS – please note that the skirt is intentionally short exposing the legs a little. It’s a little like a crop pant.

I think that changing up the furniture is cool for a summer home look.


What I prefer not to see is when folks get too theme-y with their decor.

You know. Fishnets over the lampshades and the lamp bases filled with sea shells. And then, pillows with an anchor motif on the fabric. That sort of thing. However, if this is what uhhh… floats your boat, ;] I’m cool.

Always. :]


One of my favorite summer homes belongs to Steven Gambrel.


I recommend that you jump ship (sorry, can’t resist) for a sec and go take a gander.


Below are a couple pics from Steven’s beautiful instagram account.


Steven Gambrel - instagram - summer home -Sag Harbor living room

This is from his fairly newly renovated home in Sag Harbor, NY. If you don’t know where that is, it’s part of the south fork of Long Island, on the north side above the Hamptons. But, the distances are not far. I’ve been there a couple of times and it is quite lovely.


Steven Gambrel - instagram - summer home - dining room

I adore this room!!! Extraordinary design! But Steven is one of the best.

The colors look a little brighter in his portfolio. He probably took the photos with his cell phone. I say that because the colors look a little blue outside. And that’s how they look with the older phones. Not anymore!

Steven Gambrel gorgeous vignette - peonies- brass urn-French doors- kitchen definitely not bland decor

This is a vignette I posted once before of Steven’s fabulous kitchen.


one_kings_lane_bistro_chairs_ summer home

I found this image on One Kings Lane. I could see this either near the ocean or on a lake. These look to be antique or vintage, but these kind of bistro chairs are quite on trend and they are not expensive. Most of them, these days are indoor/outdoor chairs, as well. I think that they’re wonderful for vacation and/or summer homes and always for kitchens!


Below are three images from the One Kings Lane store in South Hampton, New York


First, below is a map  so you can see where Sag Harbor and South Hampton are located.


Sag Harbor - South Hampton, NY One Kings Lane - Summer Home location


One-Kings-Lane-Store-Southampton-Hamptons-via Bright Bazaar BlogOne Kings Lane Store Southampton via Bright Bazaar Blog

Oh, love those pendants! Alas, they no longer exist as they are from the now defunct Canopy Designs who also made my beloved Sarah Chandelier I featured on here numerous times.


One Kings Lane-southampton-store-Mark D Sikes designed bedroom

Above is a room by Mark D. Sikes featuring these gorgeous bed hangings. They are sold out, but you can see dozens of products, mostly pillows, here. You can use your OKL20CARD promo code for 20% off!


One Kings Lane Southampton store - Summer Home

An image from One Kings Lane Southampton store – Summer Home


Below, I created a widget some of my favorite home furnishings from OKL and other sources for a summer home look. Most of the items are currently on sale!



Please also check out the Hot Sales Pages which will have a big update for Friday or maybe even Thursday, this week. But, there are already some lovely new things to see.



28 Responses

  1. Laurel, you are absolutely right that a summer home can be a winter home in the north. I think the key is how much the natural setting affects one’s lifestyle, which it does a great deal where I live. We are closely tied to the seasons.

    In my mountain home, summerizing is also a practical necessity- ski season means long dark hours that beg for hygge- numerous throws & rugs that lie about the house, down comforters with flannel sheets. It’s all too much for the Warner months. We’d roast under those down comforters!

    The long light-filled days of summer & its outdoor activities also call for letting the sunshine in. Besides swapping out all the bed linens, and changing the throw pillows, I’ll often take up a few rugs and throws, or exchange them for lighter versions.

    My mom also used to completely change the draperies- that certainly transformed the room. I don’t have two sets of those yet, but maybe someday…..

  2. Laurel, thank you so much for another wonderful post! Would you consider doing a post on summer home lighting? It’s so hard to pick classic yet light feeling chandeliers for a summer place without being too theme-y, as you say! I know you say its not brain surgery, haha, but this is feeling like it to me! 😀

    1. Hi Kathy,

      That one might be a little too specific for a blog post only because most people don’t have a separate summer home. However, many people live in places where it’s year-round summer. I always say to look at Pinterest and put in your search terms there for inspiration.

      Lighting can be difficult, but I would just start somewhere and build from there. Maybe keep a file if you use pinterest of lighting you like. And, before ordering, carefully access what sizes you’ll need and pay close attention to what it is you are purchasing. Hope that helps!

  3. Hello Laurel, Thanks for the map of Long Island. It is interesting to see the respective positions of places that I have heard of but never been to, and also their relationship to the major towns of Connecticut just north. I remember going to school in New Haven you could see Long Island Sound from various high points, and many people had summer beachfront properties.

    I hope the people in Laurel, L.I. are being prompt with their tribute payments to you–that is the least they can do to get such a classy name for their enclave.

    1. Haha about Laurel, LI. This is bitter-sweet. For many years my wasband and I took I-95 across CT and over to Rhode Island for the long weekend. It was the ONLY time we ever got away without the kids. But, it was always a wonderful trip. One of my favorite towns in Stonington, CT. And, there’s a residential part of Mystic that consists of the old sea captain’s homes. It’s enchanting to walk around there in the evening.

  4. Hi Laurel. I’ve been busy working on my yard so haven’t checked in for a while. I always enjoy the posts with my Sunday morning tea though.
    I had a fabulous, large as life friend named Cornelia. She was Hungarian and had survived the war, escaped from behind the iron curtain in the 50s, came to Canada and became a successful architect in the days when it was a man’s profession. She transformed her house for summer. Slip covers, drapes, cushions, lamp shades, rugs, and even occasional chairs were changed from heavy brocades and rich colours for winter to blue and white crisp cottons with fuchsia and coral accents. I’d never met anyone who did that until Cornelia. She also believed that everyday items were decor. She’d taken all her cabinet doors off so you could see the dishes, glassware and “bounty of foods” to remind herself to be grateful. Her table was always set with gorgeous linens and china. She had fabulous hats, shoes and purses lining the stairs and scarves draped on the railings. Her garden on the other hand… She once asked me if I agreed with her plan to bring in a psychic to ask her plants why they were unhappy. I took one look and said “Cornelia! You don’t need a psychic, you need a hose.” Sadly Cornelia is no longer on this plane but this post brought her to mind and made me smile. She was one in a million.

  5. Lovely post. I have always loved blue and white, but recently I’m gravitating toward green and white! I’d love to see a post about green and whites with sources, as they are harder to find than blue! Happy Summer!

  6. Hi Laurel,
    I don’t have a summer/beach/lake home. But one of our friends has a lake house. They have managed to fill it with things left-over from their main home. There was certainly no decorating ever done. I’d love to get my hands on it & turn it into something amazing. I see it as a lost opportunity. They see their place as somewhere to hang out with friends. At least no one worries about ruining anything.
    And the only summer decorating I do is wash my windows. Lol!

    1. Hi Mary,

      Well, a lot of people are like this with their year-round homes, too. In fact, I would dare-say that the majority of folks are. They just don’t see it as a priority. And/or they don’t have the funds or skill to create things on their own. And, I can relate to that.

      Clean windows are a good thing! Mine need a once over now that you’re mentioning it.

  7. Love, love, love EVERYTHING! I’m helping a friend paint and slipcover furniture for her Lake Michigan cottage this summer. Blue & white fabrics and sea grass rugs. Thanks for the inspiration, Laurel!

  8. We always would know summer was here at my grandparent’s house on the lake when we went out on the front porch. The porch went all the way across the front of the house and had a picnic table at one end and ping pong table at the other end and some rattan furniture in between. (I still have some of the rattan chairs in my condo) Some evenings we would eat at the picnic table, BLT sandwiches and lime jello with grapes were always on the front porch menu. I have a screened-in porch at my condo that looks out over some woods. That porch is decorated with a lot of vintage stuff. Yeah, I’m not into the “thematic decorating” thing. What you see in all the stores right now is pink flamingos, pineapples, palm leaves, etc. OK, living in southeast Wisconsin is not living in Key West. Though people around the lake here like decorating for summer with lots of red, white and blue and nautical motifs. When we get closer to July, I like sprinkling patriotic do-dads around the condo: small American flags you can get at the craft store, an American flag pillow, etc. Hope everyone has a happy and safe weekend!!

  9. Hi Laurel! Beautiful post!
    Here in the southern hemisphere we are already way into the cold…
    Will you be doing a winter home post in 6 months?

    1. Awww… I’m so sorry. It’s always so weird when I think about a hot Christmas! I am sure to be doing a winter post later on. There might be some already that could provide some inspiration if that’s what you’re looking for.

  10. Well, Laurel, you have ruined my entire day—and perhaps the rest of the month. When did Canopy Designs go away? What happened? I am in mourning.

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry Silanfe. Actually, it was at least a year ago. I got an email saying they were closing their doors and no other word. I would’ve thought maybe someone might’ve wanted to purchase the business, but then again, maybe there was some financial difficulty. I have no idea. But, they did make some lovely and unique in the marketplace, items. And of course, a lot of custom-work. So far, I have not seen anyone come in to take their place.

  11. Of course you know which of the above rooms are my favorite since my favorite color is blue!!
    Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.

  12. Hi Laurel,
    Thanks for another great blog post! Very informative and timely. At least for me, haha. After many moves, we have finally moved into our forever home, as they say. Which means I can finally decorate without resale value in mind. Which means beach house!! Finally! I’ve been dreaming of a beach house for so long I can’t remember when I didn’t dream of beach houses. So I don’t want to mess it up. While I patiently wait for many repairs to be completed I’m having fun discovering all the different types of coastal styles there really are. Who knew there were so many?? Won’t be fun when I actually have to decide which one I like the best. Which is the fun part right – the decorating? So I’m saving this post to help me out. Just adding it to my giant Laurel Bern reference folder, lol.
    Thanks again for all you do!

    1. Hi Maxine,

      Those reference folders are a great tool to help you decide on the direction you’ll want to go in. A beach house sounds divine! I’ve always said that if everyone in the world had access to the ocean on a regular basis, the world would be a far happier place!

  13. Another great post Laurel! Now that I’m working on a second home – that’s primarily for summer – I can attest one needs a different mindset for designing.It takes a while to adjust the thinking.

    In addition to your great points about color, window treatments, and decor, I’ll add a few more thoughts based on my recent experience:
    – Go easy on the accessories to keep the home feeling breezy
    – Opt for stain resistant fabrics. As someone who loves textiles, I never thought I would be happy with a crypton covered sofa. I now have two in my second home and they are lovely. One is slipcovered.
    – Rely on painted furniture to bring in some color.
    – Rely on seagrass and indoor/outdoor rugs as you always say. They are not expensive so they can be replaced over time.
    – Remember, if it’s a summer home, the likelihood of guests (or a summer rental) is high. Given that, don’t buy anything that will make you lose sleep or cause angst if it’s ruined. One can still find good quality pieces that don’t break the bank. You just have to do some homework, shop hard, and not get upset if you make a mistake or two when picking out items online.


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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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