1. Archive

Change the decor with the season

(ran HL edition)

When I was growing up there was a fashion rule _ no white shoes until Memorial Day. I regret to say that, as a youngster, this sacred holiday had less to do with memorializing war heroes and loved ones than it did with keeping that rule.

As Easter meant new hat, gloves and patent leather shoes, Memorial Day meant acquiring a new outfit and a brand new pair of fresh white Keds sneakers.

Ritualizing the changing of the seasons with ready-to-wear is a natural inclination, just as the urge to shed clothes, lose weight, get a pedicure and slip into neutral shades of linen and cotton garments seems a warm weather necessity. Why should it be any different in your home?

+ Rearranging the furniture: During the winter a cozy and intimate grouping of furniture around the fireplace, the tea table or piano invites family and guests to curl up under an Afghan with a good book or share conversation, with plenty of surfaces to set a wine glass or a mug of mulled cider on.

In the summer, chances are you'll be spending more hours out-of-doors, on the screened porch or entertaining in a more informal attitude.

Your furniture can reflect this change in habit. Treat the fireplace as you would any other wall in the room. The table or chair that once faced the hearth can now be swung around in front of the fireplace to capture other views. Turn the focus of your room to the windows or outdoor areas.

Open up the conversational groupings so that the room is perceived to be more airy and spacious. You may need to store extra tables or chairs or move them out to a covered porch.

Be daring in your summer furniture arrangement. Create unusual angles with your couch or introduce a daybed into your formal space.

+ Swapping accessories: If you have hardwood floors or a neutral colored carpet, it is very easy to change the look of the room just by switching area rugs. Arrange furniture around warm-colored kilims and richly patterned wool rugs in the winter. In the summer, replace those rugs with sisal ones, an air needlepoint or cotton kilim rug.

Replace or recover pillows on your upholstered furniture to change the look. Deep velvet, flannel and heavily fringed pillows in warm colors can be replaced with cotton chintz or pastel linen pillows in summer.

Slipcovered furniture offers tremendous versatility. Dark, heavy slipcovers can be removed in spring to reveal neutral linen, canvas or muted floral upholstery underneath.

If your furniture is not slipcovered, you can create the same effect with other textiles. When you are choosing upholstered furniture, think about fabric that works well with a variety of colors and looks.

Solid or neutral colors, denim, canvas duck or mattress-ticking upholstery complements chintz, paisley, kilim and other ethnically inspired fabrics that are commonly used for pillows and throws.

In the winter, layer your furniture with American Indian blankets, Pendleton woolens, cashmere throws or silk shawls. In the summer, store these textiles and opt for antique quilts in faded, cool colors.

Bring in fabrics for pillows and throws in buttery yellows and cool celadons that complement the bouquets of peonies, sunflowers, hydrangeas and roses you anticipate for your summer look.

Tables that are covered to the floor in winter with a rich brocade or other heavily lined fabric can be uncovered to reveal the wood and shape of the table or dressed more casually in a simple cotton or linen fabric.

Less is more in summer, so store some framed photos and pack away extraneous china, silver, knickknacks or candlesticks. A vintage fan makes a cool, yet practical accessory in summer.

Chris Casson Madden is host of the Home & Garden Television cable show Interiors by Design.