Pop of summer color adds seasonal cheer

After nearly two decades of living with off-white sofas, I was ready to spin the color wheel and welcome some brighter, bolder hues to my living room when I reupholstered some furnishings this spring.

But the closer I got to embracing a rainbow of color, the more I squirmed. Since I usually make major decorating decisions in the time it takes other people to pick out their breakfast cereal, I knew I needed to listen to that little voice telling me to put on the brakes. When I did, it told me something I knew all along: No matter how much I relish color, when it comes to my furnishings, I’m a “neutrals” girl at heart.

I’m going to keep my sofas neutral. But, to get my fix of tantalizing tones, I’m going to add just a few pops of bright, sunny and vibrant hues to my décor. If you’d like to add a splash of seasonal color to your home, here are a few fun and simple ways:

Go green

As soon as the weather warms up, I’ve just got to have live plants in a range of emerald colors to give my home a fresh feel. So this is the time of year I gobble up goods from the greenhouse. I love sweet ivy topiary on my kitchen windowsill, on my breakfast table or in a display on my mantle. I adore a phalanx of maidenhair ferns in creamy ceramic pots marching down my dining room table.

And every year, my friends Gloria and Lynda, who keep my garden looking fabulous, pot Kimberly Queen ferns — the only kind I don’t manage to kill — in the urns near my front door.

Perky pillows

One benefit of having neutral furnishings is that the sky’s the limit when it comes to adding colorful pillows. Whether you like juicy citrus hues or romantic pastels in the softest of tones, this summer invite some jazzy new pillows over to play in your living room, on your porch furniture or in your bedding ensemble.

Kitchen kitsch

It’s easy to add bright summer colors to your kitchen through zany cooking gadgets and cleaning supplies. Go crazy at the five-and-dime scouting for tools that make housework more fun, like sponge scrubbers in lively colors or playful designs. How about a straw broom that’s bright red or blue? Or maybe an ironing board cover that’s cute and clever? Definitely get some frisky new kitchen towels.

Tempting table

Make your daily dining experience an adventure by inviting in a few new dishes in sublime summer colors. While it’s not practical to get an entirely new set of dishes just for summer, you can add a few new pieces that celebrate the season. How about adding bright red tumblers? Lemon- or lime-colored salad plates? A serving tray in a summer motif, such as frogs, flowers or ferns?

I also like to welcome summer to my table through my table linens. Find a tablecloth, runner or place mats in a crazy color or delicate print to give a seasonal spark to your table. Then pick up some snappy linen napkins in a rainbow of matching colors, like sky-blue, watermelon-red and lime-green. Tie them up with ribbons or scout for napkin rings that catch your eye.

Make a long-term commitment

If your summer fling with color leaves you yearning for a more permanent relationship, you may be ready to take things to the next level. Invest in a chair covered in a bold pattern or strong color, or get a piece of colorful artwork to display above your fireplace. You can also add razzle-dazzle to a room with a bright coat of paint, adventurous wallpaper, a strong area rug or window coverings.

Mary Carol Garrity owns three home furnishings stores in Atchison, Kan., and wrote several books on home decorating. Write to Mary Carol at nellhills@mail.lvnworth.com. Her column is syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service.

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