By Kathryn Weber

Wood shutters shut out light and can also block both cold and heat, making them a good choice for winter and summer

Wood shutters shut out light and can also block both cold and heat, making them a good choice for winter and summer

Just like there's usually a coldest room in the house in winter, there's often a hottest room in summer. Likewise, there are days -- or even months, depending on where you live -- when the whole house seems to bake. And while it's fun to talk about ways to make your home look beachy and bright during the summer months, sometimes bringing down the temperature indoors will do the most to make the house more inviting.


Keeping your home cool and comfortable during the hottest months of the year can often mean heading outdoors. Years ago, the way to cool down was to move outside to a cool, shady porch. If you have a sheltered area outdoors, this might be the perfect spot to create a cool retreat. Add a chaise, a suspended porch swing, or even a swinging porch bed for relaxing.

To make the porch more livable year round, consider screening it in. If extreme heat is the issue, misting systems can be installed that will help you stay cool and hydrated and can keep mosquitoes and other bugs away, too.


If an outdoor spot is out of the question, then create a cave indoors. Caves are known for being cool and comfortable even when temperatures soar outside. Rather than making your home brighter and lighter, create a cool, dark spot to bring down the temperature inside. This is especially true if you have west-facing rooms. These spaces often heat up quickly in summer, and a light, bright decor just adds more glare.

The first step is to tame the sun. Fortunately, there are many options. You can add design touches that cool things down while preserving the view all the way to completely blocking the sun's rays.

Solar screening has made its way indoors, and can be added over windows to reduce both heat and glare. Simple solar screen window shades can be pulled down when the sun becomes too intense without blocking the view. If complete sun-blocking is preferred, especially if the room is used for watching TV, wood shutters are a perfect antidote. Besides shutting out light, they can also block both cold and heat, making them a good choice for winter and summer. For a more cost-conscious option, draperies with solar lining provide light and temperature blocking are budget-friendly.


Dark wall colors will also help create a cool cave effect. If you have wood or tile floors, try a sisal rug so no one's feet will stick to floors. Since leather furniture can be sticky in summer, look into covering your chairs and couches with canvas or cotton slipcovers.

Don't forget good old-fashioned fans. If your ceiling fan isn't doing the trick, a standing or room fan is a terrific option that can pull cool air into the space and look good, too. Options range from the retro look ( to uber-contemporary ( Room fans are often overlooked in favor of lowering the thermostat, yet are workhorses when it comes to moving air, keeping both temperatures and cooling bills down.


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