July 3, 2017
A few well-placed items produce your favourite summer ambiance.

Spring and summertime festivities always bring to mind planning around a theme. Whether you are inside or out, it’s fun and easy to pump up your décor with accessories that match the celebration. Everything from balloons and strings of lights to flags and banners, paper plates, even floral bouquets will set the mood. However, theme decorating is not just for events. When choosing furnishings and décor for a room, it is helpful to have a common subject, a specific style around which to work. Here are some guidelines to a successful setup.

Ask yourself what mood you want to create, and then picture a scenario that encapsulates that feeling. Locations where you love to relax offer colours and visual hints. Water is a prevalent theme. A lake, or beach or island getaway all calm the spirit. Reproduce the mood with paint the colour of pale blue skies, and watery hues of aqua and turquoise as accents. Shades of sand and driftwood are more subtle, and always peaceful. Seating is plain and comfortable, beckoning the body to relax and dream. Textures are important; a nubby carpet feels good under bare feet.

Favourite pastimes and hobbies are another starting point for working with a theme, especially for a den or recreation room. If sports is central to your family life, team colours, posters, and trophies show off your enthusiasm. Wood paneling works well here. And lots of seating for watching the games on TV. Nature buffs will feel at home displaying collections and books on shelves lined up against walls of new leaf green. Try covering a focal wall with a forest mural. Simple seasonal switches keep the room fresh and timely. This is easiest to do with fabric cushions, blankets and area rugs.

A specific decorative style is built around known elements that are connected to the era in which it appeared. There is a wealth of information on all facets of the décor for the many styles we have come to love. If you enjoy the spirit of Art Deco, then look for wallpapers that show a flourish of geometric shapes and saturated colours. Furnishings have an exotic, modernistic edge. Expensive fabrics and detailed craftsmanship bring this luxurious style alive. Almost a polar opposite is Industrial Style, which is enjoying popularity today. With its roots in industrial buildings, this style is pared back to utilitarian form and function. Concrete walls, salvaged tables and chairs, repurposed pieces of machinery sit easily together in all their unpretentious glory, and are now considered chic.

Cottage style is a favourite theme that combines the relaxed country look and outdoor living. Shown here is a patio vignette from HomeSense that has all the makings for a quiet afternoon by the lake. You don’t require much to portray a theme or style. Here, the paddle and the graphic beach towels set the stage. The red and white outdoor carpet has a familiar country design. A woven wicker basket holds a lush plant. The side table with concrete top is a more modern cottage touch.

Enjoy the journey when you are decorating. Remember it can take you wherever you want to go.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to You can follow Debbie on Twitter at, and visit Debbie’s new website,