How to achieve style cool in a heatwave

As the temperature is again set to soar above 30 degrees in London and the South East, it’s high time the blog shared some practical style strategies on how to stay cool in Saharan Britain. Especially if you find yourself wishing to hang out in the refrigerated isles of your local supermarket for more time than is strictly necessary! Here then, to save you from such grocery ignominy, are 7 ideas for keeping your style cool high and your temperature low: 

1. Top top sheets

I don’t suppose many people are using their duvets and are just sleeping with or without their duvet covers. If, like me, your airing cupboard is missing one of the vital elements for a good night’s sleep in the heat, then you might want to hit the sales to buy some essential top sheets.

John Lewis, The White Company and Zara Homes are favourites for good-quality mid-range linen. Take a look too at Tonder and Tonder who have some lovely embroidered sheets made from Pure White Egyptian Cotton at very reasonable prices. For luxurious Russian linen, check out Volga Linen (sale is on until 31st August) and Peter Reed who have been making finest English linen for over 150 years.

You never know, that top sheet might even lead you back to the idea of a traditionally made bed complete with blankets and eiderdown in the winter  … (Blog rewind: How to style your bedroom for the best night’s sleep ever).

Waves top sheet from Peter Reed edged with a very yummy scalloped rik rak edging.
CrushedBedLinen_011 1 Volga turquoise bedlinen Volga Linen on Charis White interiors blog
Luxury Russian linen top sheets by Volga Linen on sale now. Photographed by Yuki Sugiura in Leros in Summer 2017

2. Fan power

There is a bit of confusion over whether electric fans might actually heat up the air but I was interested to read Morwenna Ferrier’s article (fashion) in last Saturday’s Guardian, that Amazon have seen a 2,100% increase month-on-month in sales of air cooling items including hand held paper fans.

Popular with fashionistas and fashion houses, hand held fans really are an essential bit of kit in a heatwave. Small, portable and eco-friendly – the only energy expended is your own.

Due to their scale (35 x 49 cm), these Bolga fans from Nothern Ghana are perhaps more decorative than practical  – unless, of course, you have a willing fan operator on hand but they are fabulously sturdy!  £25, from Lola and Mawu, a London-based online boutique who sell ethical West African fashion and homewares.


3. Lidos

In this weather, it isn’t just the parks which have been the lung of ‘scorchio’ London but Lidos have been a lifeline too. In the 1920s and 30s many were built across the UK from Stonehaven in the North East of Scotland to The Jubilee Pool in Penzance in Cornwall.

Luckily, a lot of Lidos have survived and a few such as our local one in Reading (Thames Lido) have been sensitively and imaginatively renovated. The Thames Lido reopened in October 2017 – after much wrangling and many years of campaigning – to include a bar, dining areas, open air 25m  x 1.2 m deep infinity pool (with low chlorination) and spa treatment rooms.

The treatment rooms are housed in the bright coloured dormer windows you can see on the outside of the first floor. Clever use of colour and stripey fabric shower curtains make the pool area very attractive and blend well with the original structure of the building. There are relaxation and tea areas too. Suffice to say, the blog is smitten and might just have to take out a membership to our local ‘urban beach’!

Entrance to Thames Lido, Reading,  with dolphin door knocker. Photo: Charis White
Original signage from the Edwardian Thames Lido pool. Photo: Charis White
Bar at Thames Lido which shows the original ‘Deep End’. Photo: Charis White
Thames Lido pool. Photo: Charis White
View from the bar through window to the pool. Thames Lido. Photo: Charis White
Thames Lido pool with poolside changing rooms and spa treatment rooms on first floor. Photo: Charis White
Thames Lido poolside changing room/showers with lovely stripey curtains. For similar stripey fabric, try The Stripes Company. Photo: Charis White

4. Outdoor shower ideas

With the kind of temperatures we have had in the South of England, the idea of installing an outdoor shower (with warm water) becomes a much more appealing and realistic idea. Showers are obviously more water saving compared to baths but you might enjoy a Blog rewind to a previous post on Outdoor Baths: taking the inside out!

5. Shady place ideas

A shady outdoor pergola complete with seating area and reeded blinds is maybe something to consider planning as a project for next summer…

In the meantime, an easy way of creating instant shade in a garden or over ground floor windows is to use a triangular sail canopy.  B&Q have a really great deal on a 3m one at £12 or there is version from Amazon at £24.99.

6. Shutter island

I like the idea of this outdoor wooden static louvred shutter screen – again could make a great idea for a shady outdoor area.

The plantation shutter trend for windows isn’t showing any signs of slowing either and now with extreme heat and sunlight they are coming into their own. To get the plantation shutter look for less at your windows, check out Blinds2go 50mm venetian blind versions.

7. Ice-land

Finally, to keep hydrating goes without saying (refillable metal water bottles that keep drinks cold for 24 hours do the job nicely. The Corner Shop Woolhampton have a great selection to suit all styles!) but making drinks look pretty with ice cubes made with herbs, edible flowers and fruit adds to the flavour too. Another idea is just to freeze individual fruits such as grapes and blackberries which can be dropped into drinks. Coolio.

Thank you

If you have enjoyed this post and would like to receive email alerts for future ones then please share with your friends and press the large blue ‘Follow’ button either at the beginning or end of a post. With many thanks,

Charis x

Interior stylist/writer and online shop keeper.

7 thoughts on “How to achieve style cool in a heatwave

  1. Now stop it, Charis! Thames Lido is meant to be a secret. We don’t want all the hoi polloi finding out how utterly fab it is!
    Seriously though, they have a lovely manner – the right balance between rules (there are few, although “shower naked before entering the pool” should be shouted from the rooftops – it’s what enables them to keep the chlorine levels so low) and gentle cajoling to keep the atmosphere so relaxed. And with Cowshed products on tap … what’s not to like? (love your photos of it too)


    1. Oh James, yes, as I was writing it I thought you might say this! That’s the problem with social media and people like me!! I hope you had a good swim last night. I can’t wait to try it in the winter time too.


  2. Wonderful! We have a Lido in Suffolk too which we are hoping to get too. Absolutely love, love the shady place cushions that look like they are covered in coconuts! Thank you as always for sharing x


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