The fireworks may be over, but you can still paint the town red, white and blue - or any of your favorite colors.
Now is the ideal time to tackle some colorful do-it-yourself projects around the house, said interior designer Kristan Cunningham, who appeared on HGTV's "Design on a Dime," "HGTV's $25,000 Challenge" and "Bang For Your Buck."
According to Cunningham, summer is when you really want to make your house shine because it's when guests come to visit. By doing home-improvement projects yourself, "you have money to spend on actual parties," she said.
Cunningham and Carmen de la Paz, host of HGTV's "Hammer Heads," think paint is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to make a change in your décor.
"I say paint always gives you the biggest bang for your buck," Cunningham said. "Nothing else gives you that level of impact than $50 bucks and some tape."
She said paint can be used to boost your home's curb appeal and offer a glimpse into your personality and the flavor of your home by changing the color of your front door. It also can be used to create a "rug" on the patio, using a bar code pattern.
"Tape is your best friend. You can make stripes any width and paint in between the tape," she said, adding that the hardest part of the project is preparing the surface and actually putting the tape in place.
De la Paz, owner of De La Paz designs, a design and decorative-paint studio, said one of today's popular trends is color blocking, using large geometric sections of vibrant color-on-color, often using colors that are complementary or oppositional.
An ordinary chair or table can become an eye-catching focal point when painted in blocks, she said.
Both said care should be taken so that your color scheme flows seamlessly from your interior décor to your outside spaces.
Cunningham, who also is Rachael Ray's resident design guru, said it is becoming more and more important that outdoor spaces become extensions of indoor spaces, especially as we see and treat them as additional "rooms." They should be decorated with the same amount of care and finesse as the inside of your home.
"We really need to pay more attention to our seating areas and tables," she said.
This is made increasingly easy as the quality and style of outdoor furniture improves. Today's outdoor furnishings could be equally at home inside, she said. For example, Cunningham has been decorating the patio of her mother's home in Georgia.
"There are beautiful tables and chairs that could literally go in her living room. There is no excuse for an outdoor space not to look as good as an indoor space," she said.
She gets a bit of extra help with her purchases and communicating with her mother through her myLowe's account at www.Lowes.com. It's a one-stop place to organize and keep all her of design ideas and track purchases so she can match paint colors or moldings six months later.
So, where should you begin?
Cunningham said to start with a project that can be completed within an hour.
"I like to suggest creating an unexpected garden moment. Look to where your eye naturally lands - the back fence or a corner - and do one thing and do it strong in that space. It could be a pedestal with a big, gigantic urn on it, a wooden arbor that you lacquer in a really great color like China red or canary yellow, or it can be as simple a fountain or a mirror hanging on your back fence of ivy."
Once your garden moment is in place, she said you need to light it properly.
"Get one of those little spotlights, they're a few bucks, stake it into the ground and illuminate the whole shebang, and at night when every else goes dark you have one illuminated presence; you kind of get that Eiffel Tower effect. It's grand, it's strong, it's impactful. Scale is really important here. It's a stunning, simple gesture and it only takes minutes, obviously, to do it."
She also recommends painting your home's front door. "Your front door is the little black dress of the home; it's where the big, chunky necklace goes. It's an area where you absolutely will make the most impact."
If your have two days to devote to your project, she said you should paint a rug on the floor or porch. And, if you are only going to do one home-improvement project this year, tackle the one that scares you the most.
"If it pushes you a little bit, then you can tackle anything else. When you see something that comes out great, then it challenges you to do more."
Whatever the project, Cunningham said doing it yourself is often the best way to go.
"There's nothing more satisfying than to look around your home and know that it is truly a reflection of you and your family."
It also allows a person to save a great deal of money, which can be put into the cost of the products themselves instead of the labor.
"We work so hard to afford a house. We owe it to our homes to make them look as shiny and pretty as they possibly can."