Six Ways to Reimagine Your Summer

PHOTOS BY STEVE SMITH, VISIONFIRE STUDIOS

Carefree days filled with drives to the nearest beach to find yourself engulfed by that warm salty sea breeze. A visit to local markets, shops, or the corner pub that has today’s mouthwatering special of a local catch fresh off the boat. Sincere boisterous laughter, vivacious smiles, polite appreciation meet you at every turn. The come-as-you-are gatherings hosted by salt-of-the-earth family, neighbours, or a friend-of-a-friend with foot-stomping music setting the tone. The North Shore culture has a way of soaking deep into your soul, leading many to naturally fall into step with its simple, smooth pace. Now that summer is here, we can really hit our stride.
As we head into our second summer of these unusual times, we still need to tweak our happy-go-lucky summer attitudes. In true North Shore fashion, we are seeing our neighbours make lemonade out of some sour situations of late. If you are looking for a little inspiration for a summer that will still see us a little closer to home, then let me share a few of the tricks — some that are tricks of my trade, that I am putting to use to help make this summer at home one for the memory books.

You don’t have to go far to connect with nature. Most of us have it in our own backyards.

Soak in Nature with Intention

‘If you go out in the woods today, you better not go alone…’
— Teddy Bear Picnic

Accept that these days are what they are. Instead of longing for summers past I recommend turning this attitude on its head and making the most of this time. Head out for that nature walk with intention. Pack up that lunch for a picnic experience in lieu of the dining table — take along your favourite blanket to sit on even though it’ll get dirty, throw in a change of clothes so those puddles and streams can be a “yes,” and a treat never hurts. Wine in a can is one of my new favourite treats. Just remember to take the recyclables and trash home with you.
Simplified Alternative: Grab paper and pencil, charcoal, paints, etc., and head out for creative time — independently or with the kids. Nature rubbing crafts could be the inspiration you didn’t know you needed.

Forage for Fun

Bringing clippings of greenery or wildflowers from the outdoors in is a simple, free way to breathe new life into your décor. The process of foraging and curating bouquets or sculptural installations with branches can be extremely relaxing.
Designer Tip: Place these arrangements in unexpected, out-of-the-norm locations. It is a sincere joy to travel down a hallway, enter a bathroom, or wake early and spy that unexpected pop of life on your nightstand.

Interior: Turn Aspiration into Reality

I could not begin to count the number of times I have heard “spacious primary bedroom” on a must-have list for a renovation or new construction project. Visions of a lux, curated lounge corner just for them to sit, enjoy a good read, sip that beverage in silence, or simply be. Breaking News: now is the time to turn those aspirations into reality! Curate that space that vibes relaxation, inspiration, ambition, or whatever you need, and enjoy it.
Small Space Note: No excuse not to maximize on the square footage available and enjoy where you live in the moment. Think smaller scale pieces, use vertical space to your advantage, and be conscious of your spatial plan.

Need a new view? Move your outdoor furniture to a new location. A quick set up in the driveway makes a perfect place for neighbours to drop by for a quick chat.

Exterior: Quite Literally, Change your Perspective

Backyard summer round two. Whatever green space you have available: front porch sitting, apartment patio living — is starting to feel less than thrilling as a destination these days. I highly recommend a perspective rearrange, just like you would switch a living room layout around once you’re tired of the same ole thing. Get outside and change up how you see your green spaces.
For us, I’ve moved our hammock, pieces from the patio set, and a few potted plants to an otherwise neglected corner of the yard and instantly it creates a seemingly brand-new destination to use and enjoy, while the sightlines of our house give a fresh perspective. Patio dining is another favourite switcheroo with a big payoff — rather than casual outside dining, elevate the experience by setting a full tablescape and layer in ambient lighting.
Small Space Note: No patio or green space, no problem. Temporarily rearrange your interior to create a beckoning lounge space directly in front of your best window.

Push the Boundaries on Style

This is certainly a time to play things safe with health but not design style. What an opportunity to get creative — wild even — within your four walls and really delve into what your design style is. And hey, if it goes awry you have a bit of time to come up with
a remedy.
Pro Tips: Manipulate your spatial planning and furniture groupings temporarily, it can always get moved back. Step outside your comfort zone with colour selections and applications, and layering unexpected textures, patterns, and palettes. Try a new DIY application such as wallpaper, wainscoting, or paint technique. Post pandemic, you can show off your successes and tell the tale of the fails.

Kitchen Party Hoedown

Finally, if all else fails to bring you that down home, Maritime summer feeling I am quick to recommend turning up that dial on CFCYs Saturday Night Hoedown or find a Nova Scotia Kitchen Party. I’d venture a guess that you’ll be stomping that foot, even breaking out the Stanky Legg, before long.
Cheers to each of you and may this summer of 2021 on the North Shore be one you remember with fondness. Atypical could just have its own merits after all.
Cliffs Notes Version: Reimagine. Elevate. Don’t take things too seriously.