How to bring the outside in this summer

LONDON’S parks and green spaces were rammed full of people desperate to soak up the sunshine last weekend. Even the vaguest hint of summer notoriously has Brits whipping out the shorts and firing up the barbeque. Appreciation of our country’s bursts of summer is practically a national characteristic. How then can the keen, but often flat-bound Londoner make sure she makes the most of the season despite her lack of substantial outdoor space? We asked a group of expert designers for their top summer tips to help bring the outside in.

1 LIGHTEN UP
Strip down the heavy curtains that kept out the winter’s chill and stuff the velvet cushions under the stairs until October. Now is the time to hang sheer, delicate fabrics that will blow in the breeze. “You want to blur the separation between the inside and outside,” says Andrew Dunning, of APD Interiors. “Light curtains can achieve this, but if you have more money to spend, think about fold-back doors to really open out the space.”

2 FILL UP WITH FOLIAGE
Get yourself down to your local garden centre and buy as many luscious, chunky-leaved plants and brightly coloured flowers as you can get in your trolley. Think of each room as a green house, you can’t help but feel summery if it feels like you are constantly in the garden. If you’re lucky enough to have a terrace or roof garden stretching out from one of your rooms, concentrate the plants around doorway. Again, the idea here is make the outside space look as if it is part of the room.

3 GIVE IT A BRIGHT PUNCH
While lime green, bright red and yellow can look tacky in the winter, something about the summer’s sun brings them to life. Matthew Carlisle, creative director at Candy & Candy says Zara and H&M have a great range of summer accessories for splashes of colour this season. While Missoni and Ralph Lauren’s home collections can deliver the same effect with a little more of a luxurious feel.

4 GO NATURAL
Introduce a wicker or rattan chair, a smattering of seashells or stone ornaments for a seaside feel. Carlisle suggests putting up your beach and holiday snaps to help you reminisce. Crisp white bed sheets and sofa covers can freshen up a room. Add bright blue cushions to add to the nautical vibe.

5 EXCITE THE SENSES
If you need an excuse to buy a few more scented candles (who doesn’t), this will appeal to you. The experts say there’s a big difference between summer and winter scents – and they can have a powerful impact on the atmosphere of your home. A luxury grapefruit candle from Jo Malone (www.jomalone.co.uk, £260), for instance, smells significantly more summery than a cinnamon or spice scent.

6 FOCUS ON FLOORING
Roll up the thick pile Persian rug and leave the floor bare. The cool feeling under bare feet on a summer’s day will be readily enjoyed. Those averse to floor nudity should consider a brightly coloured floral rug. Carlisle recommends the romance or fleur carpets from Deirdre Dyson.

TOP TROPICAL HOUSE PLANTS
1. BIRD OF PARADISE: One of the most beautiful tropical flowers in the world, with an almost gaudy array of blue and orange plumage.

2. PALM: Would any tropical scene be complete without a palm tree?

3. BROMELIADS: The easiest of all tropical plants to grow. More tolerant to pot life than many others.