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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Summer Materials: Linen

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There is no fabric more quintessentially summer than linen.

It's light and airy weight is perfect for hot and humid days. Just as a linen shirt can put a person at ease in soaring temperatures, linen touches in the home can have the same cool and calming effect.

I love decorating with linen. Whether it's upholstering furniture, adding touches in the form of  curtains or pillows, or simply placing a linen towel on a table, its wonderful textured quality can bring a relaxed elegance to any space.

One of my favorite stories from the archives of Martha Stewart Living illustrates the many inventive ways to use linen. I hope you enjoy this relaxing look at this summer-friendly fabric...

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Usually people associate linen with plain white fabric. This shower curtain just shows how linen can be dyed to suit any design aesthetic. (Martha Stewart Living)

1 Usually people associate linen with plain white fabric. This shower curtain just shows how linen can be dyed to suit any design aesthetic. (Martha Stewart Living)

A perfect summer's dinner isn't complete without an airy linen tablecloth. (Martha Stewart Living)

2 A perfect summer's dinner isn't complete without an airy linen tablecloth. (Martha Stewart Living)

Sleeping can be hard in summer when the nights aren't much cooler than the days. Buy some linen sheets, shams and a duvet and make your bed more comfortable. (Martha Stewart Living)

3 Sleeping can be hard in summer when the nights aren't much cooler than the days. Buy some linen sheets, shams and a duvet and make your bed more comfortable. (Martha Stewart Living)

There's nothing more beautiful that linen blowing in the wind. (Martha Stewart Living)

4 There's nothing more beautiful that linen blowing in the wind. (Martha Stewart Living)

These frames are so unique. They're a very clever use of linen. 
(Martha Stewart Living)

5 These frames are so unique. They're a very clever use of linen. (Martha Stewart Living)

A linen daybed perfect for reading a novel during a much needed siesta. (Martha Stewart Living)

6 A linen daybed perfect for reading a novel during a much needed siesta. (Martha Stewart Living)

Feeling the allure of linen? You are in luck as there is no shortage of linen accessories available. Here are some of my favorites...

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This graphic print surprises the neutral tones usually associated with linen.
(burkedecor.com)

1 This graphic print surprises the neutral tones usually associated with linen. (burkedecor.com)

This bench is such a practical and versatile piece. It would be fabulous in a bedroom, living room, or even front hall.
(jaysonhomeandgarden.com)

2 This bench is such a practical and versatile piece. It would be fabulous in a bedroom, living room, or even front hall. (jaysonhomeandgarden.com)

The rasberry color of this chair would liven and define a more classic space.
(chicshopla.com)

3 The rasberry color of this chair would liven and define a more classic space. (chicshopla.com)

These natural tea towels are so pretty. Summer doesn't always have to bring bright and punchy color into your home.
(remodelista.com)

4 These natural tea towels are so pretty. Summer doesn't always have to bring bright and punchy color into your home. (remodelista.com)

A sophisticated shade is always a wonderful accent piece.
(decordpad.com)

5 A sophisticated shade is always a wonderful accent piece. (decordpad.com)

Mustard yellow gives a great punch of color to this comfortable chair.
(anthropologie.com)

6 Mustard yellow gives a great punch of color to this comfortable chair. (anthropologie.com)

I absolutely love this scarf for summertime. The color and pattern are so refreshing.
(calypsostbarths.com)

7 I absolutely love this scarf for summertime. The color and pattern are so refreshing. (calypsostbarths.com)

Mixing leather and linen is a chic idea for a tote. The bag is perfect summer carryall.
<otteny.com>

8 Mixing leather and linen is a chic idea for a tote. The bag is perfect summer carryall.

Cute dishtowels look great in most kitchens, and even better outside by the grill!
(lekkerhome.com)

9 Cute dishtowels look great in most kitchens, and even better outside by the grill! (lekkerhome.com)

These placemats are wonderfully simple.
(williams-sonoma.com)

10 These placemats are wonderfully simple. (williams-sonoma.com)

I am always looking for different takes on the traditional bulletin board. This one comes in a variety of sizes and is a functional way of covering a wall.
(restorationhardware.com)

11 I am always looking for different takes on the traditional bulletin board. This one comes in a variety of sizes and is a functional way of covering a wall. (restorationhardware.com)

The simple silhouette of this sofa lets the natural linen fabric shine. 
(johnderian.com)

12 The simple silhouette of this sofa lets the natural linen fabric shine. (johnderian.com)

The fading on this linen pillow allows it to work well in both a modern and traditional setting.
(abchome.com)

13 The fading on this linen pillow allows it to work well in both a modern and traditional setting. (abchome.com)

Such a great, understated print on these sheets!
(abchome.com)

14 Such a great, understated print on these sheets! (abchome.com)

Linen is a fabric that is relatively inexpensive and easy to work with. If you have a free weekend, you might try creating your own linen moment at home...

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Creating the look of raw linen on a wooden headboard requires nothing more than a paintbrush and tinted glaze. Oil paint was used to tint the glaze, creating an especially rich, deep shade of blue.

Read more at marthastewart.com/how-to/raw-linen-headboard

1 Creating the look of raw linen on a wooden headboard requires nothing more than a paintbrush and tinted glaze. Oil paint was used to tint the glaze, creating an especially rich, deep shade of blue. Read more at marthastewart.com/how-to/raw-linen-headboard

Linen Dust Shields. To protect books from dust, crisp lengths of linen can be hung from shelves. The technique, used in old Swedish libraries, also gives a neat appearance to uneven volumes. To make, measure the length of the shelf, and the distance from the shelf above to the top of the shortest book. Add 1 inch to all sides; cut prewashed linen to this size. Hem bottom and sides by 1 inch. Sew 1-inch-wide twill tape to top edge. Fasten to underside of shelf every 6 inches with upholsterers' tacks or a strip of Velcro.

2 Linen Dust Shields. To protect books from dust, crisp lengths of linen can be hung from shelves. The technique, used in old Swedish libraries, also gives a neat appearance to uneven volumes. To make, measure the length of the shelf, and the distance from the shelf above to the top of the shortest book. Add 1 inch to all sides; cut prewashed linen to this size. Hem bottom and sides by 1 inch. Sew 1-inch-wide twill tape to top edge. Fasten to underside of shelf every 6 inches with upholsterers' tacks or a strip of Velcro.

These linen cocktail napkins are elegant, yet they can be made quite easily and inexpensively. From just a yard of fabric, you can make thirty 4-inch cocktail napkins. Choose a lightweight fabric that isn't too sheer. Handkerchief linen, which can be easily hand-washed, works beautifully.
(marthastewart.com/266814/linen-cocktail-napkins)

3 These linen cocktail napkins are elegant, yet they can be made quite easily and inexpensively. From just a yard of fabric, you can make thirty 4-inch cocktail napkins. Choose a lightweight fabric that isn't too sheer. Handkerchief linen, which can be easily hand-washed, works beautifully. (marthastewart.com/266814/linen-cocktail-napkins)

Stay cool on warm summer nights with the lightest and brightest of bed linens.

Linen sheets are ideal for hotter climates because of the fabric's natural tendency to cool; fine linen sheets can also last for decades.
Learn more about linen at www.marthastewart.com/267634/bed-linens-101

4 Stay cool on warm summer nights with the lightest and brightest of bed linens. Linen sheets are ideal for hotter climates because of the fabric's natural tendency to cool; fine linen sheets can also last for decades. Learn more about linen at www.marthastewart.com/267634/bed-linens-101

Learn how to make linen-lined baskets at: www.marthastewart.com/264194/linen-lined-baskets

5 Learn how to make linen-lined baskets at: www.marthastewart.com/264194/linen-lined-baskets

Give your table linens a one-of-a-kind look by block-printing charming leaf and flower designs. Learn how at: 
www.marthastewart.com/269906/block-printed-table-linens

6 Give your table linens a one-of-a-kind look by block-printing charming leaf and flower designs. Learn how at: www.marthastewart.com/269906/block-printed-table-linens

Inexpensive and ubiquitous, store-bought sheers will save you precious time and money by serving as the canvas for your creative additions. Learn how at:
www.marthastewart.com/272508/linen-trim-curtains

7 Inexpensive and ubiquitous, store-bought sheers will save you precious time and money by serving as the canvas for your creative additions. Learn how at: www.marthastewart.com/272508/linen-trim-curtains

This jasmine-vine folding screen is just gorgeous, I might have to make one for myself. Learn how to at:
marthastewart.com/264657/jasmine-vine-folding-screen

8 This jasmine-vine folding screen is just gorgeous, I might have to make one for myself. Learn how to at: marthastewart.com/264657/jasmine-vine-folding-screen

Rather than clutter a single hook with several sets of keys, make a custom board that gives each set its own clearly labeled space. To make the board, have a piece of Homasote fiberboard cut to fit into a picture frame. Cover board with a piece of linen, and staple it at back. Tuck the board into the frame, then nail on labels and attach one screw hook for each set of keys.

9 Rather than clutter a single hook with several sets of keys, make a custom board that gives each set its own clearly labeled space. To make the board, have a piece of Homasote fiberboard cut to fit into a picture frame. Cover board with a piece of linen, and staple it at back. Tuck the board into the frame, then nail on labels and attach one screw hook for each set of keys.

Pretty and practical, our ribbon board has been keeping work spaces clean since it was introduced -- and keeping party invitations, postcards, and photographs organized and easy to spot. The board can be made from Homosote fiberboard, available at lumber yards. Have it cut to size. Pull linen taut around front and sides of board, and staple it to back, securing two opposite sides first, then the other two. Be creative in arranging ribbons in a pattern on the surface. (The pattern at left is modeled after a garden trellis.) Use upholstery tacks to secure ribbons. Tuck your cards behind the ribbon; you'll need few, if any pushpins. Screw a picture hanger to the back, and hang the board on the wall.

10 Pretty and practical, our ribbon board has been keeping work spaces clean since it was introduced -- and keeping party invitations, postcards, and photographs organized and easy to spot. The board can be made from Homosote fiberboard, available at lumber yards. Have it cut to size. Pull linen taut around front and sides of board, and staple it to back, securing two opposite sides first, then the other two. Be creative in arranging ribbons in a pattern on the surface. (The pattern at left is modeled after a garden trellis.) Use upholstery tacks to secure ribbons. Tuck your cards behind the ribbon; you'll need few, if any pushpins. Screw a picture hanger to the back, and hang the board on the wall.

Learn how to make these quaint table linens at:
marthastewart.com/272759/brighter-batik-table-linens

11 Learn how to make these quaint table linens at: marthastewart.com/272759/brighter-batik-table-linens

Learn how to make this lovely bright pulled-thread table runner at:
marthastewart.com/how-to/pulled-thread-table-runner

12 Learn how to make this lovely bright pulled-thread table runner at: marthastewart.com/how-to/pulled-thread-table-runner

Use crisscrossed lengths of twill tape to turn a plain linen shade into a striking graphic one. Directions at:
marthastewart.com/267374/twill-taped-lampshade

13 Use crisscrossed lengths of twill tape to turn a plain linen shade into a striking graphic one. Directions at: marthastewart.com/267374/twill-taped-lampshade

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Comments (3)

  • Not only is it beautiful, but also the durability of linen is remarkable. I have monogrammed linen hand towels that belonged to my grandmother, and even more amazingly, I have some that were my great-grandmother's. And I still use all of them on an everyday basis.

  • So true summer material Linen! Love table linen and love them with hand embroidered desings. Interesting post Kevin Thank you.

  • Very interesting uses for linen. The shower curtain idea especially.

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