Create your own ‘getaway’ by changing decor for the seasons

“Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.” — Hal Borland (1900-1978), American author and journalist, “Autumn on the Doorstep — September 13,” Sundial of the Seasons (1964)

Do you ever envy those folks who “get away to their summer place” or make a relaxing visit to a home they may own on a mountain, by a lake or just in another city? At different times in my life I have to say I have.

There was, however, a time in my life when I had such a place, and while it was rejuvenating to get away and be somewhere different for a while, there are downsides to that also. Even paradise has a price. Owning two homes, not to mention the expense, is tiring.

If you own a second home, you feel guilty if you don’t go there for every free moment you have. When you’d rather go off with friends for a weekend or visit another place, you begin to think about how much money that other house is costing you, and off you go to your little “getaway.” Even when you’re not there, the mortgage, utilities and upkeep continue.

I am actually going somewhere with this train of thought, and it is all tied to our wonderful climate here in the valley. Our temps have cooled down considerably, and it seems that, in my memories, we could put on a jacket by the end of October, and I did, in fact. Last week I was daydreaming about being able to turn off my AC, but in reality that hasn’t happened yet.

And for those of us with outdoor space, some use it year round. Unfortunately for me, I’m not on my patio a lot in the summer, because it’s too hot. But right about now it’s a perfect place to be.

And then, because it was a particularly slow cerebral day, I’m figuring out that in reality we are a two-season town, each lasting approximately six months — AC and no AC.

So, here it is: We already have a summer place and a winter place, and it doesn’t cost us a cent in gasoline or a minute of our time to get there! There’s no reason to be jealous of those other people. We already have our two places.

With just a few changes, all easy, you can transform your home from one season to another. One of the many joys of having these real extra houses is that they are usually a little more relaxed; you can put your feet up and chill out. The whole experience is supposed to be casual. So change it up at home and make your house whichever “second” home you wish.

In the summer, remove your heavy area rugs and leave your floors bare or choose cotton or sisal rugs. Pack away your cozy throws and a lot of the pillows to give your seating a cooler appearance. If you have silk plants, store them for the summer and bring in some fresh flowers and a few “live” plants.

Remove tablecloths and dining room chair covers, and if there are any shades on your chandeliers, remove them also. Take down any heavy window treatments and put up sheer panels or wicker shades.

Then, of course, go in the opposite direction in the winter.

For a huge difference, and one that will be the most expensive I’ve suggested, have a set — or maybe two — of slipcovers for your upholstery. Lighten up in the summer with duck cloth or an easy washable cotton, and have a heavier, more formal set for use in the winter. And don’t forget your yummy throws and soft, cuddly pillows.

These changes are simple and easy to achieve, For just a little effort, you can have your cake and eat it too — at your summer place or winter haven. How amusing!

Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and past president of the Architectural and Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant and stylist specializing in home staging. She can be reached at

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