I am 1,324 miles from the Hamptons, a four-hour flight to Malibu and half a world away from the south of France. But these are the places that consume the mind of this landlocked Midwesterner who is longing for azure waters, soft white sand and bleached homes that have been perfectly kissed by the sun.
So as I find myself in the thick of summer, I want to translate my interiors to a coastal vibe that allows me to escape to a destination that is not so far away. Some designers swear off using beach or nautical themes in homes that, well, aren’t on the water. And while I tend to agree that authenticity should play a central role in design, a bit of the outdoors can certainly be fun to bring indoors for the season. Short of throwing sand on the floors, give it try.
I love the beauty of items that the ocean delivers from the deep. Placing sea fans, coral and driftwood in crusty antique garden urns and vintage silver loving cups makes for instant impact. I also arrange old sea glass balls that escaped from fishermen’s nets into old wood trencher bowls. I recently turned a pair of weathered wooden buoys into lamps. I find that using these simple installations can create visual interest without trying to pretend my home is 50 feet from the shore.
I recently found a fantastic vintage locker shelf unit complete with baskets — it is fashionably filled with towels, books, art supplies and host sundries that need a place to call home. This is where form and function meet in earnest, and to a Type A personality like me, that’s pretty swell.
ROW YOUR BOAT
I have a large collection of boat oars and constantly find a new way to install and display these in the store. For this season, I have placed a dozen of them — paddle side up — in a large, white Nantucket basket. It’s as if they were just hanging out in the boathouse waiting for the rowing team. Another fun display is to suspend them from the ceiling or place them in pairs on a large wall for instant artwork. I have also used them over windows to hang sailcloth panels.
On hot summer days I like to retreat inside to the comforts of cushy furniture with cool fabrics. One of my favorite spaces is our family room, which is filled with white slipcovered furniture and arranged on an over-scaled sisal rug. I will officially go on the record and say that not only is this a timeless look, it gets the wear-and-tear of my three active children, who are often in possession of chocolate chip cookies. The effect of washing them over time makes them all the more appealing. Toss some bold, striped accent pillows in place and grab a book — nothing is more refreshing than that after a day in the sun.