Winter is over and warmer temperatures have arrived, enticing all of us to begin thinking about summer vacation; so let’s try a little experiment. Lean back in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Now think back to your last visit to the seashore. Can you smell the ocean, hear the pounding of the waves or the squawking of those pesky gulls and feel the warmth of the sand between your toes? If you are decorating a seaside vacation home or simply want to incorporate the look of a beach cottage into your home’s decor these are the feelings you will want to evoke through your choice of colors, textures and furniture styles.
Let’s begin with color. Fortunately, there are many color palettes to choose from. Nautical brights, coastal neutrals, lush tropicals or wave-worn shades of blue and green. There is no right or wrong–the colors you choose will be based on your own personal preferences. If you are a sailing family you might enjoy the primary colors associated with sailing flags and buoys with plenty of sailing accessories to go along with the theme. On the other hand, a soothing neutral theme that celebrates nature by incorporating the colors of sand and the textures associated with coastal living may be just what you are looking for. Vibrant shades of green mixed with warm shades of brown provide a lush tropical feel to a beach home while many people enjoy the many colors of blue and green that can be found in the sea and sky.
All homes need furniture. If your beach home is a weekend destination, furnishing it can be very affordable. Hunt for thrift store finds that are multi-taskers such as chests that double as storage and serving space or couches that can accommodate overnight guests. Shabby chic furniture finds like bureaus or hutches with a finish that has been distressed by the passing of time as well as scarred old chandeliers, for example, provide a homey touch that says all are welcome including young children and furry pets. If budget is of no concern or you are decorating your primary residence in a beach cottage style you might want to look for wood furniture pieces that feature a lovely golden patina and choose slip-covered upholstered pieces that can be changed out with the seasons. Don’t overlook the impact of painted furniture pieces such as side chairs, end tables, headboards and hutches that will add color and personality to your decor. While the room pictured above would be lovely and soothing with an all-white palette, the turquoise antique drysink adds just the right touch of POP to the space. After all, is there anything more inviting than a set of red dining room chairs or a hutch that features complimentary colors that form the perfect backdrop for your shell collection or grouping of family vacation photos? Wonderful old wicker pieces add comfortable seating as well as a sense of days gone by. Pair them with lovely shabby chic floral and chintz fabrics or make them more comfortable with the addition of cushions made of indoor/outdoor fabrics. This room is the perfect combination of aged wicker, vintage fabrics and the added surprise of a painted hutch resulting in a comfortable and inviting space for any beach inspired decor.
Accessories are the crowning touch to any home. In a vacation beach house you can be as kitschy as you like and decorate with seashells, vintage souvenirs and the obligatory sailfish hanging on the wall. If you are looking for something a bit more sophisticated, opt for lovely shells displayed in a glass hurricane, an antique sailing print hung on the wall or gleaming brass accessories displayed throughout the rooms. In a year round home you might want to include accent pillows that feature a map of your favorite seaside destination, for example or textural rope accessories that will compliment other items in your home without screaming “beachy”. Natural fiber rugs are the perfect choice for a beach house as they represent the natural reeds that grow along the shore and are durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of lots of visitors throughout the season. When they get too sandy you simply step outside and give them a good shake. What could be easier than that?
Now open your eyes. It’s back to reality and time to begin planning your beach inspired decor.