Southern Exposure

Mike Ragan
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A transition is what we seek during this season. It’s the time of year to lighten up!

I grew up in the South, and I recall my grandmother “Mama D” preparing the house for the approaching hot weather, best described as thick, or as we say, “thee-ick.”

Huge Oriental carpets were rolled up and stored, and often, sisal carpets were laid over the freshly polished oak floors. The windows were thrown open, velvet drapes taken down and light white cotton drapes hung.

Mama D (“D” is for Dann) reminded me that before air-conditioning, a breeze was created with the help of a huge attic fan that was in the center of the house. Its purpose was to pull all of the hot air out through the roof and create circulation by bringing in fresh air from the open windows below. I remember just before bedtime, our beds would be pushed up against the wall just under the window that was then lowered just enough to create a wind tunnel from the pull of the large propeller in the attic.  My twin brother, Dann (yes, named after Mama D), and I would watch the sheer drapes dance overhead and drift off to sleep listening to the womp, womp, womp of the fan.

People often gathered at the house for cocktails. They would arrive hot and sweaty from work, riding horses or, most likely, a round of golf.  Twill slipcovers were placed on the velvet and mohair sofas to protect them from getting crushed or dirty, and slipcovers could be washed and hung outside.

Winter colors in her house were jewel tones of emerald, sapphire and gold. The airy, light, neutral palette of white, champagne and ivory was a very fresh, elegant look for the warm weather.

Mama D brought fresh flowers in regularly from her beautiful cutting garden, and she used lots of color with throw pillows to match the glorious flowers.

A transition is what we seek during this season.  It’s the time of year to lighten up! We want our clothing to be lighter, our food and drinks, our surroundings.

Here are three ways to lighten up your space and create that airy, fresh feeling of summer. Think light, bright, white!


The fastest way to refresh your look is with pillows.  For a minimal investment, pillows can make a big impact.  Try something that brings the outside in, such as images of nature printed on a white background.  Color is always a welcome addition to create a quick update.  The great thing about pillows is that they can be moved easily from room to room.


Change the look of your sofa by covering it with a white denim slipcover.  While it is more of an investment than a pillow, a slipcover can be put away at the end of the season and used for years to come.

Crisp, White Sheets

Finally, invest in a set of crisp, white sheets.  The preference of cotton, linen or bamboo is up to you as long it is 100 percent cotton.  Treat yourself to having your sheets pressed at your local laundry.  I think there is nothing more luxurious than slipping into pressed, clean, white sheets.  As far as thread count goes, size does matter.  The larger the thread count the finer and more luxurious the sheet, but, beware, they do require maintenance and ironing.  For more of a wash-and-wear lifestyle, I would recommend 350 to 500 thread count. They will wash beautifully, last longer and can go right on the bed with just a quick press or without ironing altogether.

Welcome in white and neutrals for their calm and cool feeling, then add pops of color for energy, excitement and, possibly, a touch of the exotic.  Tempering relaxation and longer, hopefully, lazier days with activities that take us outside to enjoy the sunshine, from early morning light to spectacular evening sunsets.

Our gardens flourish, vacation destinations await and an unwinding takes place even in the smallest ways.  Peace and respite, fun and carefree months add up to a summer to remember!

Special Gift for Prowdr Readers: Enjoy 25 percent off your purchase at Mike Ragan Home. Use code Prowdr at checkout.

With a successful career in modeling, acting and dancing on and off Broadway, Mike Ragan founded RAGS, a high-end custom furniture company, which is celebrating its 25th year in business. He is a brand-identity expert and marketing and merchandising consultant. He proudly partners with renowned designers and retailers around the country to create some of the best home interiors in the world.

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