Summer decor: Take your cue from the shore

Universal UclickJune 13, 2014 

  • Chic or kitschy?

    We asked Kate Nisbet of Kate Nisbet Designs in Raleigh to help us distinguish the difference between beach chic and beach kitsch.

    When incorporating beach-inspired elements into your space, try to avoid sticking to one theme or motif; after all, variety is the spice of life! No one needs a room full of fish prints, lighthouses, anchors, flipflops or palm trees to invoke a beachy state of mind. Less is more when it comes to kitschy-themed objects. It is far more chic to dot your space naturally with beach-inspired colors, textures and art.

    Color and texture

    Draw inspiration from all around you on a trip to the coast. When you cross the bridge signaling that you’re almost there, notice how your eye is drawn to the vibrant shades of green and yellow marsh grass blanketing waterways. The beach skies are a canvas unto their own – clear blue fades to warm peach dotted with bits of lavender as day turns to night.

    Pay close attention to the way colors naturally complement one another. While strolling along the shoreline, you’ll notice warm-hued sands meeting cool blue-gray waters, and you might even find the perfect shade of soft seashell pink or bottle-green seaglass. Find inspiration in the colors that surround you for paint, textiles, rugs and accessories.

    Sea grass accents

    Sophisticated woven sea grass accents are another way to incorporate the coastal sensibility into your own home. From baskets to rugs and furniture, there are lots of great options in every price point. A few sea grass accent pieces add a casual textural element to a room.

    Beach art

    Artwork is by far my favorite way to bring a sense of place into any space.A lovely piece of beach-inspired artwork can set the tone and bring a wow factor to your room. The Triangle is home to talented artists who draw inspiration from the coast. Check out local galleries to find a piece that speaks to you.

    If you build a room around pieces you love, it will never go out of style.

    Kate Nisbet Designs: 919-792-8103 or

Make waves inside your home. Having waterfront property need not be a prerequisite to create a home with beach appeal.

“People want the calm and peace they feel at the beach inside their homes,” says Ashley DeLeon, interior designer and co-owner of Sirene Coastal Interiors in Venice, Fla. “Your home should be a sanctuary, and for many, that means bringing natural colors and textures into the spaces they live.”

If a trip to the beach isn’t on your vacation itinerary, you can still surround yourself year-round with sea colors and motifs without spending all of your traveler’s checks. Whether a homeowner’s design aesthetic is contemporary or cottage, bringing nature’s color and shapes into a home softens a modern edge.

“People respond to natural colors and organic shapes, such as shells, rocks and driftwood,” DeLeon says. “The blues, greens and natural colors found at the beach make for an inviting indoor environment.”

A light, bright and white color palette is the backdrop for refreshing nature themes, says Kendra Stewart, spokeswoman for Pottery Barn. Ditch the kitschy beach signs, she advises, and opt for a more natural beach-scene approach in home design.

“Incorporate organic elements like textural nautical rope, faux coral and seashells to evoke a peaceful beach scene and create a serene and relaxing space,” she says. “The key to making neutral beach decor stand out is to incorporate a pop of color to create a focal point in the room and add contrast.”

Sea colors and natural motifs can accentuate every room in the home. While furniture and walls can be in neutral tones, accessorizing with pillows, linens and draperies that mimic coral oranges and sea-glass blues makes a seaside statement.

Linen pillow covers in the colors of sea and sand, as well as embroidered pillow covers with oceanic motifs of sea stars and shells range from $25 to under $50 at Pottery Barn. Bedding in soothing blue tones becomes a quiet respite when coupled with an all-white headboard and bedroom furniture, whether it’s purchased new or is a repurposed and repainted flea market find.

Fountains create calm

DeLeon actually brings water elements inside with fountains that make a big splash in her modern home.

“There’s something very soothing about running water,” she says. “The sound a fountain makes while water is circulating is as important as the look of the water feature itself.”

When making a bubbly buy for your home, there’s a number of fountain types from which to choose, depending on the space in which you want to create a Zen-like zone.

Pedestal and cascade fountains are the most typical freestanding water features. They can either be a series of bowls or mimic nature with a steady stream to create a waterfall effect. A wall fountain can add life to a room, mounted as a piece of artwork, while a tabletop fountain fluidly works on a family room sofa table, bedroom nightstand or bathroom vanity.

To balance out the beach-side decor, DeLeon likes to bring the element of fire into a space as well.

“While the water in a home is cool, the fire brings warmth to a space,” she says. “Candles not only are elemental, they also make the space smell inviting.”

Go for balance

But a beach aesthetic doesn’t have to be watered down into an all-or-nothing endeavor in your home. Sometimes a contemporary coastal look can come from a desire to extend a vacation experience. Start small by creating small tabletop vignettes – or limit the space by creating a reef-like refuge in your home office.

Use shells and rocks gathered at the beach for inspiration. Pottery Barn also sells faux coral display pieces that start around $20.

“Decorating with organic elements works well for beach decor because it brings beauty and a sense of balance found in nature into your home,” Stewart says.

A well-designed watery respite should be a sensual and multisensory experience, says DeLeon.

“Your home should not only feel good to you, but also be pleasing to the eyes, the ears and the nose,” she says. “A home that brings a beach vibe inside is very soothing and should make you feel like you’re not surrounded by four walls.”

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