10 Ways to Give Your Home a Summer Camp Vibe

Like a postcard from your favorite childhood getaway, these ideas will bring a bit of the lake to your home

Joanna Linberg
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Paddle Panache

Propped up in a corner or mounted on the wall, a painted oar calls to mind lazy days boating in the sun. But these brightly-colored paddles aren’t just decorative—they’re the real deal. In or out of the water, the graphic design and alternating layers of western red cedar, aspen, and black walnut wood will get noticed.
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Something Old, Something New

Summer camp cabins are usually a mishmash of old and found objects that add up to a pleasantly informal style. For full-time living, offset vintage or quirky pieces with a modern piece or two. For example, the old-timey sofa upholstery gets a boost from the straightforward striped blanket thrown on top and the graphic Moroccan rug.
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Rustic Finish

Plywood walls symbolize the “make-do mentality” of many frugal camp cabins, but the warm wood suits a more sophisticated style just as well. Paired with industrial accents and clean-lined furniture, the wall treatment takes on a Scandinavian feel. Seal walls with a matte finish rather than glossy for the most up-to-date take.
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Location, Location, Location

Show some pride of place with a piece of art that zeroes in on your favorite body of water (bonus points if your camp’s location—real or imagined—is marked). We love this updated take on a nautical map: Roads and details are laser-etched into wood that’s layered and cut to show the depth of the lake or bay.
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Flying High

Retired signal flags almost always find their way onto the paneled walls of camp mess halls. Newport Beach-based Slightly Choppy mimics that wind-whipped aged look with tea-stained twill tape that unfurls into a hand-painted canvas pennant. The navy check is as versatile as a pair of blue jeans.
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Cool Cover-Up

Go directly to the source of take-home camp style: Pendleton, whose wool blankets have long graced bunk beds and tent floors alike. The classic Yakima stripe is a do-no-wrong addition to any bedroom—or use it as a sturdy tablecloth for a fresh interpretation.
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Inner Glow

Portable lighting is just as handy inside as it is outside. Set a duo of these kerosene lanterns on the table in place of candles or on a mantel for mood lighting. Heading to bed? Dock it bedside for nighttime reading. (LED versions are also available if a lit wick worries you.)
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You Are Here

Wooden signs noting landmarks in that signature script are a touchstone of the U.S. system of parks and campgrounds. Score your own at an antique store if you’re lucky. If you’re not (or just aren’t up for a hunt), search Etsy for “National Forest sign” for a rotating collection of authentic signs and convincing reproductions.
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Fresh off the Boat

A taxidermied fish mounted on the wall is an icon of summer camp style but we could do without the ick factor. That’s where Bold Coast Burns comes in. This one-man studio produces huge wood-burned versions of your favorite catch, using a torch to get the dimension scales typically offer. He works by commission so the price varies with the size and species.
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Smell of Summer

Remember unpacking your duffel after a week at camp and catching the smell of the campfire, the murk of the lake, and the paradoxical fresh smell of sunlight? Go there all over again (minus the murk) with this soy candle that combines the scent of fresh green grass with hyacinth, lemon, and a hint of smoke.