With temperatures reaching the high 90s, your home is often the best place to avoid the heat. But if your house is starting to absorb the heat of this fervid summer, you may be looking for relief indoors, too. We asked two interior designers in Northern Virginia how to keep your home cool and comfortable during these sweltering months.
Bedrooms often get much hotter than the main level during the summertime. How can I change my curtains and drapes to avoid this?
Laura Hildebrandt: There’s two ways you can utilize drapes and curtains. If you have a bedroom that faces the sun, using blackout drapes with a thick lining will actually help keep your room cool. That way, you’re not getting the sun penetrating through the room, heating it up. Unfortunately, it kind of leaves you feeling like a cave character. The other way is if you still want to have your windows open for a breeze, use a sheer curtain, since that will help dim the light coming in but still allows the airflow to come through.
Kerrin Muller: Taking a lot of the sunlight out of a room is absolutely huge. So, finding different fabrics that are going to reflect out is going to be really helpful. Some of our clients, especially with water-facing views, are able to do a light tint that is barely noticeable on their windows. And they’ve really come around in technology where it’s very hard to see it with the naked eye. So reflecting a bit of the UV rays is extremely helpful. And then layering products inside; so possibly layering a sheer and another type of drapery with backings that are going to be more reflective as well are extremely helpful.
Does paint color affect room temperature? Should I paint my walls a certain color for a cooler room?
Hildebrandt: Paint really doesn’t matter for having a cooler room. It’s more about the sunlight and controlling how much light comes into the space heating it up.
Muller: There’s a lot of psychology tied to color. First before the psychology part, there’s just the basics that lighter colors are going to feel a little bit lighter and not so heavy. But the psychology of it is that an orange room is going to feel hotter or a red room is going to feel warmer, and then you start to bring in colors that have cooler temperatures and that will actually help mentally pull you down a little bit, too. But fabrics in our room are going to be the easiest thing to change, because not everyone’s going to change their wall color to make it feel cool. You can do little things like add fans, add lightweight pillows, and then take out some of the furs and heavy wool and sherpas. And all of those are super-easy changes.
What are the best types of flooring to keep my feet cool at home?
Hildebrandt: Tile usually keeps a room cool. And for my clients, especially if I do a tile floor, I also heat underneath the floor as well. I do the underlayment heat so they get the advantages of the summertime, when the tiles are cool on your feet and it really helps keep the temperature low. And then in the wintertime, you have the underlayment heat, and you just turn on the switch and your feet are nice and toasty. So I love porcelain tile floors, and now they make some that look so much like wood, you can’t tell that it’s not. It’s amazing.
Muller: Textures are huge. You will feel cool when you are in a room with marble floors. Wood is also always going to feel a little bit cooler to the touch versus carpet. I’m also a fan of slates and really any tile, even porcelain tile, is going to feel cooler to the touch. So, for instance, for some of our river or lake houses we will often put a textured tile floor in so that it’s nice and cool for when they go in.
What house décor should I incorporate to make the house feel cooler?
Hildebrandt: Indoor plants will clean the air and make the space feel a little bit more tropical. So when you are warm it kind of gives you a sense of calm. You can kind of imagine yourself somewhere more tropical, and maybe that’ll cool you off. But as far as décor goes, linen sheets are really great temperature savers for your bed that keep your bed cool. You sleep more comfortably if you have linen sheets and it’s environmentally friendly because they last a long time, which is also really important. I also love having fans around the house, like inexpensive hand fans. I have a couple of wicker fans that I got at a market but they’re from Africa, and they’re beautifully colored. And when I’m not using them; they’re actually wall decorations.
Muller: Indoor plants are at the top of my list. They can be one of the cleverest ways to naturally clean the air and just improve the air quality so you do feel like it’s cleaner and cooler naturally. Additionally, if you are sitting under higher plants with bigger leaves somewhere like your study, you feel like you’re shaded a little bit more from a corner of the sunlight coming in the window. And then going back to the whole fabric idea — not using so much heavy wool. For example, silk is beautiful and it’s light, but it’s actually one of the highest insulators. So, anything with a silk type fabric or silk type thread going through it is actually going to hold a lot more warmth. But I’m the biggest fan of linen. One thing I did around my house this summer was replacing the daily throw blankets that we use to linen throws, and they’re fantastic because they breathe. It’s just a light, soft covering where the breeze goes right through it.
Where is the best area of the home to place fans? How can I make fans fit in with my home décor?
Hildebrandt: Putting a fan near the register, where the air conditioning comes through, is actually one of the most ideal spaces to put it, because it helps keep it low on the floor, and then helps push the cool air throughout the room. Ceiling fans, I personally don’t love, but they now make some that look like chandeliers and you can hardly tell it’s a fan. So those I’m kind of embracing because ceiling fans really do help keep a room cool, even if I don’t aesthetically like them. As far as fans go, they make some really cool smaller retro fans that are fun and you can bring them out and then they easily store away.
Muller: I think fans have really evolved, with some of the blades more squared off or just interesting. There are fans that kind of meld into the fixture more. And there are actually some rotating blades that are so interesting and angular where they have lights within the blades. But most people tend to think of fans being tacky because they have the lights hanging down, so it’s not comfortable to look at the light bulb. But, a lot of fans that do integrate a light will make it feel a little less obtrusive in the room. My other point would be to layer your light sources in your room so that you’re not relying on one big fan with one big light. So, that would look like a few can lights, it might look like wall sconces and maybe some lamps. That way, you’re not dependent on that single light source.
How can I keep my porch or patio cool during the summer?
Hildebrandt: Don’t be afraid to put up curtains. They make great outdoor fabrics now that can stand up to the sun and will help keep it all shaded and cool. You can always put a ceiling fan on your porch too. But most importantly, keep the colors for your porch light because you’re outside and dark paint will absorb heat, which will keep the space hot because you get the reflection of the heat off the paint.
Muller: Fans are great. A lot of clients have gone to a Miele-type, air handling system, which is also known as a mini-splint. Those are wonderful because they can make those four-season rooms. So, a lot of a lot of these patio type environments, if enclosed, can easily have one of these mini-splint units. But just in general, there’s some new furniture out that is not all cushion-based type furniture. Those are very comfortable because you’re sitting on a series of ropes or bungees, so you have a lot more airflow around you versus a cushion where your body heat is trapped a little bit. Also a lot of people use indoor/outdoor carpets outside and that can make the room feel cozier, but it can trap heat also.
Feature image by Angela Newton Roy
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