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10 beautiful summer spaces by the world’s top interior designers

It takes more than a turn of the aircon dial to create a cool oasis. Summer is a time of heightened senses, and the best interior designers can harness this, creating a visual and sensual refuge from the heat and delirium outside. From Kelly Wearstler – whose Malibu beach house is a masterclass of mid-century Tropicalia – to Katharine Pooley – her Cape Town villa the ultimate iteration of luxe living – we’ve spoken to the world’s top interior designers and rounded up their most stunning summer spaces.

Katharine Pooley 

A villa in Cape Town designed by Katharine Pooley, one of the world's top interior designers
A villa in Cape Town designed by Katharine Pooley (Image: Courtesy Katharine Pooley)

Katharine Pooley has been named  International Designer of the YearEntrepreneur of the YearAsia and British Interior Designer of the Decade and more – quite a collection of accolades, yet not at all surprising when you consider the scale of the project she imagineered for a client’s Cape Town villa. Villa? It’s a veritable demigod’s eyrie. In fact, Pooley’s prodigious work ethic is matched only by her imagination: “I don’t tolerate not trying and I’m judgemental of people being lackadaisical,” she tells us. “To me, only the absolute best – from how we answer the phone to how we respond to a problem – represents true service.”

The basement spa in a Notting Hill town house interior designed by Katharine Pooley
The basement spa in a Notting Hill town house interior designed by Katharine Pooley (Image: Courtesy Katharine Pooley)

You don’t need to own half a Cape Town cliff, though, for Pooley to work her summer magic. Above is her take on a basement swimming pool in a private Notting Hill house in London.

Kelly Wearstler

We could have chosen either of the stunning homes in Malibu that Kelly Wearstler has called home – her current family residence is a stunner, with the waves from the Pacific crashing underneath the house at high tide. However, it’s the 1950s beach house that edges it – a tropicalia wonder redolent of lazy days in Broad Beach of old. Never has there been a more evocative backdrop than the shoji screens and timber panelling for vintage delights like the 1968 Pulkka lounge chair, Nakashima coffee table, Afra and Tobia Scarpa sofa, and Isamu Noguchi pendant. Everywhere, a sense of place – plants encroach; saltwater sprays the windows. Weastler tells us: “There is something so comforting about blurring the boundaries between the exterior and interior. I find designs that play upon the raw, natural beauty of an environment are the most beautiful and refreshing.”

Alfredo Paredes

East Village duplex created by interior designer Alfredo Paredes
East Village duplex created by Alfredo Paredes (Photo: Courtesy Alfredo Paredes)

Alfredo Paredes knows something about style. Rather a lot, it turns out – as befits the man who was Ralph Lauren’s visual supremo for over three decades. Now striking out on his own, Paredes has created some stunning interiors, but a couple of his summer spaces just cannot be ignored. This East Village duplex oozes light without sacrificing intimacy – and lighting, says Paredes, is the secret sauce of any space: “I have been in the most beautiful homes that look terrible because they had awful lighting, and I’ve seen underwhelming spaces look really good under the right lighting conditions. It is critical to get that right.” It’s not hard to imagine downing your morning coffee with the early summer breeze drifting in from the vast terrace doors.

In counterpoint, Paredes’ Cape Cod fisherman’s cabin (above) might seem a world away from the sophistication of his East Village duplex, but it’s taken a great deal of artistry to nail the barefoot beachcomber look that is as elegant as it is wild. It’s a place for stealing lost afternoons – or the perfect hideaway to write your next book.

Mimi Shodeinde

A villa in Provence designed by furniture and interior designer Mimi Shodeinde (Image: Courtesy Miminat Designs)

Mimi Shodeinde knows how to design for the heat – she has designed major projects from Ghana to Nigeria to the Persian Gulf – and her spaces are all about cool harmony, with natural stone and timber creating temples of refuge from a hot climate. However, one of her personal favourite projects is this villa in Provence.

READ: Why you need interior designer Mimi Shodeinde on your radar

“Designing it was such a treat, says Shodeinde. “I really wanted to have these wooden structural beams – and light, and the repetition of the arches throughout the property. It’s a sister to both Ghana and to Gloucestershire. And it definitely reflects my design aesthetic. If there’s a project that I could say is fully Miminat, it will be this one, because it’s relaxed, timeless, and elegant – definitely one of my favourite projects.”

Martin Brudnizki

The Martin Brudnizki-designed garden terrace at Annabel’s (Photo: James McDonald and Pete Navey)

Martin Brudnizki – inhabiting, as he does, the apex hospitality design – has created some of the world’s great summer retreats and rooftop swimming pools. However, one of the spaces that particularly tweaked us is the garden of London’s A-List haunt, Annabel’s. “We were inspired by gardens and the English love affair with entertaining,” Brudnizki tells Effect. “You arrive and you know you are going to have the best time ever.”

The rooftop pool at The Pendry, Los Angeles, designed by Martin Brudnizki (Photo: James McDonald)

Another space that’s perfect for summer sundowners is the Brudnizki-designed rooftop pool at the Pendry hotel in West Hollywood. The city is right there – hot and febrile through the glass – yet it’s a whole different universe.

The Novogratz

The courtyard of the Bird Streets residence by interior design duo The Novogratz (Photo: Gus Black)

Summer is never far away from the West Hollywood enclave of the Bird Streets – one-time home of screen legends Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn, and whose current neighbours include Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Jodie Foster. Celebrity interior designers the Novogratz chose the Birds Streets to create the perfect refuge on the site of a 1930s Spanish villa, complete with saltwater pool and a shaded internal courtyard.  

The pool and poolhouse by interior design duo The Novogratz (Photo: Amy Neunsinger)

“The original internal courtyard, where indoors and outdoors merge, reminded us so much of the old Hollywood days that we decided to make it the focal point of the home,” explains Robert Novogratz. “We wanted to play the entire house off that.” And the poolbar – with its Charlotte Perriand Les Arcs bar stools – is the ideal place to hunker down during hot summer afternoons. “It’s my favourite part of the house,” says Novogratz. “I’ve designed so much, but I’ve never done a pool house bar, so I’m glad that I finally got my chance.”

Tiffany Howell / Night Palm

Mara Akil Office in West Adams, Los Angeles, with interior design by Tiffany Howell of Night Palm (Photo: Pablo Enriquez)

Night Palm founder Tiffany Howell brings LA cool to everything she does – and that certainly includes the West Adams property she created for screenwriter Mara Brock Akil. A tableau of exceptionally curated vintage furniture and art is grounded by a smooth cement floor that gives out onto a central courtyard dappled by the shade of mature trees. It’s the perfect summer space.

READ: Night Palm founder Tiffany Howell on her love of vintage in interior design

Kathryn Ireland

Pacific Palisades residence by Kathryn Ireland (Photo: Richard Powers)

“I do houses that are to be lived in,” Kathryn Ireland tells us. “I understand living with dogs, having children, people, parties. Above all, I like to create that absolute sense of comfort and well-being.” Perhaps this is how the world-renowned interior designer creates spaces that invoke the kind of time-stretched summers we remember from childhood – unhurried, unworried, with long lunches dissolving into sundowners.

A Cape Cod beach house designed by Kathryn Ireland (Photo: James Merrell)

Two particular Kathryn Ireland favourites of ours are the cool arches and corridors of her Pacific Palisades residence in California, and the breezy deck of her Cape Cod beach house.

Reymond Langton Design

It’s always summer on a superyacht, and Reymond Langton created one of the most photographed boat interiors of the past few years when they unveiled Artefact, their 80-metre stunner, winner of Super Yacht of the Year 2021. The firm’s design partner and creative director Andrew Langton says: “With careful consideration paid to engineering, naval architecture and dramatic exterior design, it was important to reflect this innovative concept with the interior styling, and enhance the distinctive character of the yacht’s layout and expansive glazing, while meeting the specification of high acoustic performance and a practical living space – requirements that influenced many aspects of the styling and materials chosen from the outset.”

Effect Magazine is brought to you by Effetto