It takes more than a couple of palmetto leaf fans to keep a cool home this summer.

Strip away old paint, recover chairs and pillows and store winter goods in long-forgotten places. The Washington area is full of fresh summerpaints and fabrics that will cool off and brighten up your home. Open your house to the sunshine, absorb the light, take advantage of these hot months. You will remember them fondly when the freezing winds come ripping off the Potomac this winter.

Why not begin by celebrating the heat waves. Eric Waltenbaugh of Ridgewell's Carters, 5525 Dorsey Lane, Bethesda, will carve an ice sculpture that lasts from six to eight hours ($40 to $300). Or if you can't afford the art , buy a block of ice from the Uline Ice Co., 3rd and M Streets NE. and carve your own.

Flip through the pile of magazines you've been saving all winter and cut out pictures of fresh fruits and vegetables. Glue them to your kitchen celing or wall and coat with a few layers of shellac.

Create an indoor patio in your living room. Select an unused corner or alcove, line it with bricks and then fill the patio with a few tall plants and potted palms.

Take off the glass shades from ceiling fixtures and replace them with paper Chinese lanterns from the Hong Kong Gift Shop, 1739 Connecticut Ave. NW. It's a good idea to clean and debug them once a year anyway.

Plants are always refreshing in the summer, but why limit yourself to potted plants? Forget the fish. Fill an aquariom with aquatic plants and a few snails to keep the glass clean. You don't even have to water them when you go on vacation.

The children can join in your cooling off by piercing lemons with whole cloves. (Make sure to cover the whole lemon.) Attach a ribbon with a colorful thumbtack and hang the lemon in the closet. It will keep you winter and summer clothes smelling fresh and fruity.

They don't have automatic icemakers, in fact, they don't even work, but one of the coolest deals in town is antique 'n Old Stuff. 104 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Be sure to call before you stop in because they sell like, well, hot-cakes.

If you can't make it to the shore this summer, pick up some seashells from the Collectors Cabinet, 1023 Connecticut Ave. NW and Springfield Mall. Display them in your bathroom on a wocker shelf from Hech's, or spray paint an old cigar box and glue the shells to the lid and sides. The Collectors Cabinet also sells large conch shells that can be used a sumeer door-stop.

Is the house getting a little cramped and stuffy with summer visitors? The Horchow Collection, P.O. Box 34257, Dallas, Tex., sells a lemon-yellow canvas tent that may be used as a "back yard studio, party room, guest bedroom or portable vacation home. It's light, airy and insect proof." The tent, the catalog says, has three alcoves, 200 feet of living space, two windows, vinyl coated flooring and aluminum framing. It looks quite elaborate, but only takes one person to assemble ($1,000).

The G Street Remnant Shop, 805 G St. NW, has a wide selection of cotton, cotton polyester, voile, batiste, batik and over 50 kinds of eyelet in prices ranging from $1.77 per yard of fabric on the remnant table to $18.95 per yard for imported cotton and eyelet. The remnant fabric is especially good for bright cotton prints that can be used to spruce up old pillows. The eye-let makes summer tablecloths and curtains.

Waterford crystal iced-tea glasses in the simply faceted Lismore pattern ($22.75) from Martin's of Georgetown, 1304 Winconsin Ave. NW, are not too fancy for sunny time with Spode's bright green and yellow Country Lane china ($93 for a 5-piece place setting).

Woodward & Lothrop's "Sun Garden Window" brings summer indoors. The window comes in six different sizes to replace your old window-and has two to four shelves. There are drainage holes in the bottom of the shelves so if you overwater a plant it will drip through the shelf ($315 to $500 including installation).

Strip off the old paint on the trim of the bathroom or kitchen window and repaint the trim with bright enamel. The enamel paint will reflect the sunlight and give your bathroom or kitchen a clean, shining look. Live dangerously and paint your kitchen cupboards, radiotor or refrigerator (as long as it is an old model).

Take your camera in hand and go visit a few of Washington's 84 or so ornamental fountains. When you get the pictures back, arrange them into a montage, sit back with a mint julep and admire the cooling effect. And if anyone tells you it's too hot to hustle, swat them with a palmeto leaf. CAPTION: Picture 1, no caption; Picture 2, Tent living can be light, airy and gracious. This one, from the Horchow Collection, costs $1,000- unfurnished.