Easy tips for brightening your space_lowres

Mayhall painted this dresser with chalk paint in green, which is trending for summer. Chalk paint is ideal for furniture because surfaces do not need to be primed before painting.

Brighter, longer and sometimes impossibly humid days may encourage you to spend more time indoors, if you're not lounging by a pool or escaping to a more temperate climate. Mentally preparing for the heat is a challenge, but changing your home decor for the summer months can be as simple as applying a fresh coat of paint, swapping out some lampshades and taking a minimalist approach to style.

  "Paint makes the biggest difference, especially on the furniture," says Jessica Mayhall, owner and decorative painter at Creative Finishes Studio.

  The studio sells chalk paint, a decorative paint developed 25 years ago by artist-designer Annie Sloan. The paint is popular for coating and decorating furniture and cabinetry because it's not necessary to sand and prime wooden surfaces before application, Mayhall says.

  "If you're looking to spruce up or brighten up a darker furniture piece, the paint is a perfect medium and can make a world of difference," she says. "Even just changing the color of one furniture piece can completely change the overall vibe of a room."

  She teaches clients how to apply the paint, but she also comes to their homes to apply custom decorative finishes.

  "Annie Sloan's palette is great because her colors are a little grayed-down," Mayhall says. "Even if you want turquoise, it'll have some grays, blues and greens, so it's really light and really soft. It often complements a lot of colors that people [already] have in their houses."

  Renee Price of Shades of Blue, Inc. says popular colors for summer include pale blush pink and green.

  "Green in all hues remains popular, although emerald green in particular looks great with most neutral tones," she says.

  In addition to painting, buying a few throw pillows and investing in new fabrics can transform a space into a summer haven. Price suggests purchasing pillows with removable covers that can be cleaned and swapped out throughout the year as seasons change.

  "Sunbrella [a textile manufacturer] offers a wide variety of indoor and outdoor fabrics in fun colors and patterns," she says.

  For entertaining, Price recommends changing table linens to freshen up the dining room. She also likes mixing brightly colored tableware with simple white china.

  "It's a great way to create a special look for summer gatherings," she says.

  Summer decor should be more minimalist than the heavy layers associated with winter. Mayhall suggests paring down the furniture and toning down the accessories. Pay attention to lighting as well: A lampshade made of thick material can make the room appear dim. Summer decorating is the perfect time to substitute opaque shades for styles that let the light shine.

  "Look for a fresher lamp or a lampshade that you can swap out on an older lamp ... (to) make the space seem more lively and more on-trend," Mayhall says.