WHEW!  Summer is surely here, in all its exuberance! Many of you non-mountain dwellers have air conditioning or attic fans or “swamp coolers”—but it still seems hot! Aside from bathing, swimming, and drinking iced beverages all day, what is YOUR best method to create a cooling environment?  Please send in your responses, and I’ll share a couple of the best ones with our readers.

What do I do?  Well, I use a lot of my mom’s old techniques. I block some of the sunshine from coming into the house. It’s hard for me to live in a dark environment, but even simple sheers at the windows are a help. We have light-blocking top-down / bottom-up shades for the 6’ high bedroom windows, and set them to give us early sunlight only, while still having some daylight in the rooms through the entire day. It’s amazing how only 18” of opening in each window will give plenty of daylight in the summer.

Our mountain home doesn’t need air conditioning, but we do keep the hottest window exposures closed until evening. We’ve always planted or had a few shade trees in the yard, shading some part of the home. We save MUCH energy by these few tricks.

This is the time to get the cooler colored accents through the home, those in sky blues, ice blues, grass greens, mint greens, and purples and blue violets. Be sure to have live plants around, perhaps a water feature or two, and take the extraneous out of the space to give a spacious, airy feeling.

Have cooler-evening or under-shade-trees get togethers. Splash the table with bright, colorful summer prints and foods. Set a garden atmosphere. Again, have a water feature.

Summer is a wonderful time for enjoying our homes as havens of relaxation. Create the environment, and then give yourself a little down-time daily to enjoy them.  Remember–YOUR home should fit you like a favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe….FIT?” And, give me a call if you need some help adapting your spaces to your lifestyle.

I look forward to your comments!–Sharon Breay, Breay Design   &   “Does the Shoe….FIT?” Workshops

A Light in the Garden


compliments of OutdoorLights

compliments of OutdoorLights

Once there was a poem about a light in the garden. Is “a” light enough? Probably not. Exterior lighting needs to be planned as carefully as we plan our interiors and our architecture. So often when I am looking out the window of a home in evening, all I see are the reflections of the interior home staring back at me. I see none of the lovely grounds beyond!  If this sounds like your home, here are tips to rectify the problem.

Yards are to be enjoyed in the evening as well as in the day, and from the inside as well as from the outside. A little string of low voltage or LEDs, or solar lights usually won’t do the job—not because of the type of light, but because of the straight line of lighting fixtures. Too much of a good thing becomes too predictable—and ultimately, boring. Nor will a huge sensor light over the garage door create the feeling of peace and mystique that are so appealing in a night garden. Nor will lighting up the yard like a commercial parking lot be appreciated by viewers, particularly neighbors! 

By mixing lighting heights and intensities, and what the light illuminates, we can create an interesting, unobtrusive night scene that can be enjoyed both from inside and outside. Think about the spaces in your yard. You will do well to provide some ambient, low level lighting for general visibility, some task lighting at areas such as steps, and some accent lighting to focus on a favorite area of architecture, or lawn ornament, or shrub or tree. The task lighting should be about twice as bright as the ambient light, and the accent light, which will only shine on one element of focus, can be 15 times as bright as the ambient light, for real “punch.” 

Next blog, we’ll discuss some methods of lighting the entry. 

See you then!—Sharon Breay