When the calendar hits September, it is easy to get desperate. Where did the summer go? How did it fly by so fast? If you are not quite mentally prepared for the change of season, The Globe and Mail scoured the country’s lifestyle and design community for tips on how to make that summer feeling last through the fall, in every room of your home.
One of the best ways to trick your brain is with smell. “The sense of smell triggers the most primal part of the brain: It affects the limbic system much quicker than sight or hearing,” says fragrance expert Marian Bendeth. “We store it up like a treasure chest of olfactory memories that can be pulled out in a split second [with a scent] and so we can react viscerally, immediately, and we don’t even know why sometimes.”
Using floral notes (rose, geranium, lavender, jasmine), citrus (orange, lemon) or earthy scents (sandalwood, cardamom) can thus induce the summer memories of being in the garden or the great outdoors. For Province Apothecary founder Julie Clark, these “mood-boosting” smells are key to maintaining summer spirits. She sells a therapeutic roll-on that’s popular during the winter: “It goes into your bloodstream and physically affects you,” Clark says. “During the darker days of winter, it’s easy to get fatigued, so these happy citrus and floral oils are really, truly uplifting.”
When we’re out in the sunlight, we also tend to take better care of our skin, moisturizing, exfoliating, soaking our feet and giving ourselves pedicures. Sue Frost, owner of Kitchener, Ont.,-based natural skin-care line Body Blessed, notices an uptick in sales of sugar scrubs and body balms during the summer, but says there’s no reason you can’t maintain these self-care habits through the colder months. Ginger, lime and lemon zest scream summer.
Seasonal affective disorder is real. Inform yourself about the symptoms, and maximize natural light by hanging a mirror opposite the window in the rooms of your house.
Don’t forget to keep those summer sheets, too, and linger in those linens. Enjoy your extra-blanket-less bed just a while longer. The same goes for drapes: Don’t replace them just yet. Drink in the diffused light as long as you can.
Summer scents aren’t just for the bathroom, either. “I spray my sheets, pillowcases; I’ll spray a rug; I’ll get little cotton balls and spray them and stick them right inside my radiator so when it’s cold [the fragrance is] released,” Bendeth says. “I’ll do that with a lot of my summer fragrances just to surround myself. I’m not ready to say goodbye.”
It’s something you think about naturally when it’s hot, but mindful water intake is a habit worth carrying over into the fall. “You lose just as much water when it’s cold,” says Vancouver-based lifestyle medicine coach Shayla Roberts. “It’s all about creating healthy patterns: replacing a sweetened drink, carrying a reusable bottle around or having a jug in the fridge with mint or cucumber. The idea is to keep it available and enjoyable.”
It may also be time to relocate the herb garden. If you are blessed with a sunny kitchen, why not continue to grow your herbs indoors? Having fresh basil or thyme available is a welcome and summery addition to the dinner table. Try to keep eating seasonally, too. Can and preserve the bounty of your garden for the cold times. Or at the very least, keep the flavours of summer stocked in your cupboards: pesto, lemon spreads and jellies. Keep your menu light and local.
“Any time you are thinking about changing a decor, ask yourself: How do you stimulate the senses? One way is to use visual prompts that evoke the feeling of being relaxed, unhurried or at the cottage,” says Gordana Di Monte, the creative director and decorator at Toronto’s Douglas Design Studio. “Pastel or primary colours, nautical tones and green are guaranteed to always look fresh.”
Di Monte also suggests painting your ceiling or hallways a crisp white for an instant refresh. Or hang new art, swap in throw pillows or a raffia rug with a summer palette, and update the welcome mat. “The main thing is to remember you’re trying to evoke a mood, so there are triggers you can use: layers and textures and colours that work for you as a memory of summer,” she says. “It’s about the light, the look and the feel.”
Be sure to also focus on the lighting. Change bulbs in your main living space to a bright white, with high wattage, or incorporate a colourful new table or floor lamp. Another instant mood update is easily achieved through lighting colourful and summer-scented candles.
Another great transitional piece for the change of season is an ethanol fireplace that can be moved from room to room. Spark it, create a cozy atmosphere and stay outside just a little while longer – you’ll forget it’s already September.
Finally, blooms are an instant summer signifier. Cut the last flowers from your garden and put them somewhere prominent. Or find a good florist and ask for what’s freshest. Nicole Bent, owner of Shelmerdine Garden Centre in Winnipeg, suggests investing in an orchid, whose blooms can stay alive for up to six months. “Put it in the middle of your dining table,” she says. “They will far outlast fresh cut flowers.”
Plants are also key to bringing the outdoors in, and have been proven to make humans feel better. Peace lily, Chinese evergreens or the spider plant are easy-to-care-for green options that Bent recommends. “They’ll also purify the air for when you’re not able to open windows.” Tillandsias, which don’t need soil and can live off of sunlight and moisture, are another popular choice to add a little bit of nature and visual interest indoors, as are succulents, which Bent says “are very low-maintenance, but have a modern look.”
And don’t forget …
Avoid procrastination. One of the ways we judge time passing is with memories, says Claudia Hammond, the author of Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception. So if you want to make those precious summer days feel long, she advises you fill them with novel activities, find somewhere new to visit and make things happen.
“The beauty of the way time perception works is that when autumn strikes and you look back on those final summer days, you will have so many memories that you will judge the time as being longer than it really was,” Hammond says. “You’ll trick your mind into believing you have stretched the summer out.”
It’s not winter yet, so live it up.