Set the Mood
- Roll up and stash your rugs so your naked feet can enjoy that beach-house feeling of walking on cool wooden floors.
- Play a vacation sound track. As any self-respecting escapist can tell you, the next best thing to being there is grooving around the house to the music you'd be listening to if you were there. If in your dreams you're strolling the beaches of Bahia, play the classic bossa nova of Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Thwarted dude ranchers can try Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger, one long, sad-sweet ballad to the Old West that's great for sing-alongs.
- Relax outside by candlelight. If there's nothing on your evening agenda but zoning out to good music and enjoying good company―your own, perhaps?―set out dozens of tealights ($4 for 100, ikea.com for store locations), or line the edge of the patio with large pillar candles on plates (from $4 each, crateandbarrel.com). Your favorite songs, or simply the natural harmonies of a summer evening, will sound even sweeter when your senses are more attuned to them.