5 ways to spruce up your beach house for summer

And by “beach house,” I mean summer house, cottage, country house, weekend house, or year-round house :) I’m just so desperate to think about warmer weather…I’d like to make every house feel summery right now.

1. Do a massive cleaning (even if you have a housekeeper). Whether we’re talking about the home you live in year-round or a house that’s been closed up all winter, there’s something extremely satisfying about doing a deep clean. Scrub the backsplash and kitchen cabinets. Mop wooden floors. Vacuum waaaayyyy under the beds. Use a magic eraser on the wall going up the stairs. Set aside as much time as you can — a few hours is realistic; an entire weekend is ideal — open the windows, enlist the entire family, and get down to it.

You don’t have to take my word on this; Apartment Therapy’s Maxwell Ryan is a great believer in the deep clean.

Glass backsplash white kitchen

So clean it shines!

2. Put a new rug in the Foyer. Or mudroom. Wherever you first enter your house. Dash & Albert has beautiful striped cotton rugs that look wonderfully beachy. HOWEVER, cotton is a sponge. It absorbs dirt like nobody’s business. If you’re thinking, “But it’s cotton! I’ll just throw it in the laundry!” let me tell you: you won’t. And even if you do, the rug will never be the same. It will shrink, get lumpy so it doesn’t lie flat, and possibly fade unevenly.

Striped rugs on bales of hay with mountains in the wets

Round-up of Dash & Albert’s striped cotton rugs

Lucky for all of us, Dash & Albert has a huge, beautiful selection of indoor-outdoor rugs. Some are really ropey, which one of my clients loves, and some are nice and flat, which allow doors to swing over them.

Blue and white striped rug

Dash & Albert’s durable AND beautiful Cameroon indoor-outdoor rug

3. Make sure all of your sheets are 100% cotton. I doubt that you, Gentle Reader, have ever purchased 50/50 sheets. But if you have a family house that’s been around for years, some things are slow to be replaced. Put sheets at the top of your list — not only because old sheets are grody, but because cotton percale is coolest in summer heat, the experts at Sferra tell me. Check out Peacock Alley’s Calypso sheeting in Egyptian cotton percale. Deeee-vine.

Crisp white and yellow bedding

Sferra’s Genna bedding

4. Use white accents. Despite all of the pictures you see of “beachy” rooms, you’re not restricted to navy blue and white when decorating for a country house feel. But incorporating some white makes a room fresh and summery…crisp white sheets, as above; a white lamp; white vases; or white in pillow patterns. Serena & Lily has a great selection of pillows that incorporate sharp white.

Throw pillows on white sofa

Serena & Lily

5. Paint a room — or a ceiling — super super duper light blue. Really, what better way to feel summery and beachy? (I recommend light blues especially for rooms that gets a lot of light — at least make sure you have ample table and floor lamps in a north-facing light blue room.)

I’ve had great luck with Benjamin Moore’s 1646 Lookout Point (my bedroom color), 2052-70 Ice Blue (my former office color and my daughter’s current bedroom color), and CW-585 Ewing Blue (at least one bossy color-designed bath). I also love Farrow & Ball’s 235 Borrowed Light.

Light blue foyer with white furniture

Benjamin Moore’s Ewing Blue on walls

If we do all of these things, Gentle Readers, together we’ll WILL spring — and then summer — into existence.

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design is an interior design firm based in Washington, D.C. We create outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people — starting with color. 


Lighting by Jamie Drake and AERIN. An exercise in fabulousness.

Designing light fixtures can’t be easy. If it were, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Scale alone is a tricky thing. Then you have to consider where it might go, create the design, choose finishes…then — goodness! — there’s wattage to think about, and probably something involving wiring…

It seems complicated.

Which is why we all should appreciate truly beautiful light fixtures. Such as those made for Boyd Lighting by my design hero (wait, I’m going to dignify that title with capital letters: my Design Hero) Jamie Drake.

Behold the Grasse Sconce:

Jamie Drake's Grasse Sconce

Grasse Sconce, designed by Jamie Drake for Boyd Lighting

Minimalist, gorgeous, and color-filled. Literally.

Then there’s the Topanga Sconce, which is like a light fixture in a tuxedo:

Jamie Drake's Topanga Sconce for Boyd Lighting

Jamie Drake’s Topanga Sconce

Jamie Drake's Topanga Sconce

Detail, Topanga Sconce

And the Chandelier:

Jamie Drake's Topanga Chandelier, by Jamie Drake

Topanga 8-Arm Chandelier

The Topanga series is so urban. It feels very New York to me, in a really genuine, straightforward way. There’s no way these fixtures could end up in a French Chateau, which is one of the many things I love about them. (Although if anyone could make “urban” and “French country” play nicely, it would be Jamie Drake. I just don’t know why he’d want to.)

Then we have lighting by AERIN. More varied, perhaps, but equally successful.

Bossy color just used the Cannes Table Lamp in a client’s foyer. We love the juxtaposition of organic and polished.

AERIN's Cannes Table Lamp

Cannes Table Lamp by AERIN

The Blue Wave finish on the Eliot Table Lamp is amazing. (If only she’d spelled Eliot properly, with 2 Ls and 2 Ts ;)  )

AERIN's Eliot Table Lamp

AERIN’s Eliot Table Lamp

I’m lusting after the Mill Small Ceiling Light for bossy color’s world headquarters. Mid-century meets disco ball meets 80s glam. How could you go wrong?

Gold finish round light pendant; a modern disco ball

Mill Small Ceiling Light by AERIN

Here’s the Large Mill Ceiling Light on Circa Lighting’s Blog (from Architectural Digest, clearly):

AERIN's Mill Ceiling Light

Mill Ceiling Light, by AERIN

Between Jamie Drake and AERIN, there’s simply no excuse for boring light fixtures anymore.

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design is an interior design firm based in Washington, D.C. We create outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people — starting with color. 

5 questions to ask yourself before you hire an interior designer

You’ve been thinking about it…you’ve talked to your friends…you’ve been tooling around on the Internet looking at different designers’ websites…

You’re ready to live in an outrageously beautiful home. You’re ready to hire an interior designer.

Before you start making calls, though, I suggest asking yourself the following 5 questions. Having run my interior design business for 11 years (!), I know they’ll help prepare you for the adventure ahead.

Pink and orange upholstered bench

Manuel Canovas at Cowtan & Tout

1. Why do I want to change how my home looks and feels?

Why? What’s driving this pursuit of domestic fabulousness? Is the reason simple: your wall colors are bumming you out? Have your children gone off to college, and you want to re-think their bedrooms? Has your home never felt right to you? Do you simply need a change in your life? Any and all reasons are legit.

Yellow and orange living room with toile and matching sofas

Century Furniture

2. How many people would I like my home to accommodate?

A mundane but important question. How many people do you want to be able to seat in the living room? How many people eat breakfast at the kitchen table? When you have dinner parties, how large are they?

Gray and pink Living Room with toile drapes

Alessandra Branca for Schumacher

3. In designing your home, What are the three things you value most: beauty, style (as in, being stylish), quality, durability, budget, trend-setting, your time, convenience, etc.? 

Answering this question will help you choose the right designer. Some specialize in child- and pet-resistant spaces. Some are budget decorators who will “design on a dime.” If you have a demanding job, you need a full-service firm — a turnkey operation that can handle every aspect of the design and implementation process.

Purple and red Foyer with console table

Century Furniture

4. How much money am I willing to invest in my home right now?

I can’t overstate the importance here. Your designer will ask you this question, and you should have an honest answer at the ready. Otherwise, your designer is giving you her best guess of what you’re comfortable spending.

If you’re saying to yourself, “How do I know what my investment level is before I know how much things cost?” email admin [at] bossycolor [dot] com and we’ll send you our Estimated Cost of Home Furnishings Worksheet. (That really needs a catchier name, doesn’t it?) It will give you an idea of how much it can cost to furnish different types of rooms top to bottom.

Lavender and blue bedroom

Jane Churchill for Cowtan & Tout

5. How will a redesigned home impact my life?

Dream a little. What will your life look like if you have an outrageously beautiful home that reflects your taste and life experiences? Will you entertain more frequently? Will you be energized? Will you feel more at peace?

I hope these questions are helpful, Gentle Readers. Go forth and bossify!

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design is a full-service design firm in Washington, D.C. We create outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people — starting with color.