Francine Gardner: Summer Sleeping Indoors and Out

June 17, 2015

“Summer” just saying the word brings back memories of warm blue waters, fine white sand, the intoxicating scents of rosemary, lavender and thyme – the sights, sounds and scents of youth, and freedom from winter’s harsh grip. I think of summers past, growing up in the South of France, a happy nomad exploring the beaches of Greece, Ibiza, Saint Tropez. Alas! Youth is gone, but still at first hint of summer, I transform my house into our summer sanctuary. For me, this isn’t about central air conditioning; we didn’t have it when I was young, and these days I only turn it on as a desperate measure. Enjoying the summer isn’t about sealing yourself off from the season. It’s about creating a comfortable environment that helps you enjoy it.

In the warmer months, my bed is dressed in its summer white canopy, carried back from Bali. My mattress is crafted by Vispring and is filled with breathable natural fibers, a must for our humid New England summers. I love the ritual of opening my linen closet, filled with generations of embroidered bed linen.

Francine Gardner

A French tradition is to prepare the “trousseau” for every daughter. Sheets are embroidered by grandmothers and hired ladies who would spend hours bent with their needle, creating elaborate embroideries in threads of fine linen with the initials of the bride-to-be. With its soft natural mattress, bed dressed in crisps ironed white linens, bare wood floor, scented flowers on my nightstand, my bedroom become a soft, cool, white oasis.

Natural Mattress


It is important for me to not only have an oasis in the house but to have one outside as well. I’ve always loved the water and relished its ability to cool and soothe, even on the hottest of days. It is integral to summer. Once the pool is opened and the outdoor living spaces set up, and then comes what is for me the ultimate summer moment as I dress my outdoor bed in its canopy from Mozambique for sleeping under the stars.

outdoor sleeping mary janes farm

Image via Mary Jane's Farm 

My vision of keeping cool: a mattress that will breathe, fine pure linen sheets that will keep dry, ideally bed linen should be line dried in the sun. Nothing will ever match the scent of sun-dried bed linen. Screen doors and open windows will let the air flow.  Sofas draped in white textile, water pitchers with mint and lime at the ready. I can’t escape my past after all, nor do I wish to. I still carry with me my great grandmother’s traditions of how to keep cool and make the most of our summers.

san giorgio hotel

San Georgio Hotel 

Francine Gardner is an interior designer based in Stamford, Connecticut. Previously she owned the shop Interieurs in New York. You can read more articles by Francine on her blog

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