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Beachy Blues

By: Rachel Perls, decor8 guest contributor

What color makes you feel calm, peaceful, and serene? I?m betting for many of you, it is the color blue. Something embedded deep within our psyche is drawn to it. It represents what we cannot live without: air and water. Blue makes us think of the ocean and the sky, ever ebbing and flowing, limitless and ethereal.

Outside, your world might look cold, grey and uninviting, like this:

You can still get that feeling of ‘a perfect summer day at the shore’ inside your house by using a palette of blues, like this:

The “Beachy Keen” blues are serene, tranquil, and dependable. Try a splash of powder blue on your walls (or ceiling!), a soft blue-grey striped rug, or a cobalt blown glass vase. Mix it up with blues carrying red undertones, like periwinkle, and green undertones, like aqua.

A word of caution about the blues – too much of this hue can appear cold, sterile, or depressing. Avoid this by balancing your blue with a touch of warmth from the other side of the color spectrum. This can easily be accomplished by adding punch with orange art, colorful Mediterranean tiles, wicker or wood furniture.

Looking for inspiration to complete your ocean-feeling space? Remember Diane Keaton?s Hampton house in the movie “Something?s Gotta Give“? This is a classic example of elegant, beach styling. The design was so popular that people were having their interior designers use freeze frames from the movie to copy for their own homes.

via SDSA. Set Decoration by Beth Rubino, SDSA.

via SDSA. Set Decoration by Beth Rubino, SDSA.

So take cues from these inspirations and your favorite beach vision. Juxtapose blues against crisp whites, grays and neutrals, and you will have your perfect beach retreat, even if you are stranded far inland!

To delve further into the world of color, please visit Rachel?s blog Hue.

Posted in Color Inspiration, Decorating Tips, guest bloggers on February 23, 2007

Trends 2007: Beachy Keen

Surf’s Up! We kicked off our trend report with Mad About Morocco and The Nurturing Naturalist, but with so many other hot looks out there, let’s explore a few more. For this trend, think beach parties, palm trees, and lots of California cool, and relaxed interiors. You can even support the environment by incorporating pieces that are eco-friendly, especially with Beachy Keen because so much of the look is based on what’s au natural. We’re talking more Denmark or coastal Maine faded vs. Lily Pulizter preppy.

The Look: Serene and subtle, natural shapes and finishes, sun-kissed. Images of sea, sand, pebbles, driftwood, and raw raffia come to mind. The look incorporates light and medium wood tones, and plenty of organic materials and fibers. Try to find sustainable, durable products when you can. Beachy Keen can be relaxed and soft (slipcover sofas, for instance), or streamlined and contemporary (a chair in wicker and chrome). Look for pieces with clean lines and uncomplicated, organic patterns. Bring the outdoors in to immerse yourself in a total resort-like atmosphere with lots of found objects neatly arranged. It’s all about personal preference.

As with any look, don’t lay it on thick… You want your home to function and breathe and it can’t if smothered to death. Think of the coast when it is quiet – a few people, some gulls in flight, you, the sand and surf. Nice vision, isn’t it? Now think of the beach during peak season with wall-to-wall bodies, so packed you can barely see the sand. Not as relaxing a thought. Same with your home. Packing a room with too much visual clutter isn’t the goal here, Beachy Keen is about good organization and well thought out displays and a smart floor plan. Lean on having too little over an abundance. If you have collections you’d like to use in the room, pottery or jars of shells that you collect, group them together in one place so they can be appreciated. Scattering them doesn’t show them off nearly as well. It’s hard for the eye to appreciate any one object in a room that is too busy. Examine the images below for further confirmation. Aren’t they soothing?

To create your very own peaceful escape, here are some beautiful pieces to get you started, from lighting to linens. Have fun!


Furniture – Wood, wood, wood! In blonde or acorn, monkeypod, walnut, bamboo, driftwood, teak, elm, wicker, rattan, or painted in white or pastel. Lacquered works if it’s pastel, acrylic if it’s clear, and glass top tables with a wood base work fine as well. You can mix periods – think fusion bohemian. Lines can be raw and natural, traditional (mid century European pieces, such as Finnish or Scandinavian pieces) or clean and contemporary. Here are some examples. In addition to options below, try Maine Cottage for some painted wood furnishings that may suit your tastes. I’m more of a clean, contemporary girl myself, so most of what is featured in this post are items I would own or suggest to my clients.

Beautiful teak from Lekker Home in Boston’s South End.
Furnishings from West Elm

Furnishings from Pottery Barn

Furnishings from Pottery Barn

Chairs: Top row: Hawaii dining chair from Anthropologie, Neptune chair from Anthropologie, Driftwood chair from Bleu Nature, Scalandia chair from Pier 1. Bottom Row: Easy rattan armless chair from Pier 1, Sophisticate chair from Inmod (a real deal for $114, free shipping, and 10% until 2/23) and the Nandor chair from IKEA.

Clockwise from top left: Concentric coffee table from Z Gallerie, Bradenton Cube End Table from Pier 1, Lyabak pouf from Bleu Nature, Akta stool from Bleu Nature, rolling table from Excel DK showroom.
Benches and tables, clockwise from top left: Barn Beam tables from Viva Terra, Truck Tarp ottoman from Anthropologie, and the Z Bench from Branch Home.

Plenty of sun-washed hues – Blues, greens, sand, grey, pale pink, pale yellow, lavendar, cream, white. Visit the coast for inspiration, snap photos, open your eyes to the sights and sounds. Pay attention to the colors so you can bring similiar hues into your space. (If you’d like to spice things up a bit, incorporate deeper tones of these hues, add a burst of teal, for instance.)

Prints range from organic shapes to wood grain, palm branches, stripes, sea fans, and bamboo. Keep metals to a minimum, although a little silver or gold goes a long way, especially hammered or in a matte finish.

Textiles from Kerry Cassill.
Linen and faux suede pillows from West Elm add color and texture.

Top row: Fish pillow from Jonathan Adler on sale for only $29, and Curvature pillow from GH Interiors. Bottom row: Gato and Easton pillows via Angela Adams.
Pillows from Hable Construction

Merino Wool Bobble pillows from Mirror Mirror and assorted Simplemente Blanco pillows.

Bedding: Let’s look at a few bedding options. I’m sure most of you can figure this out on your own by now, especially with all this visual inspiration, but here are a few of my favorites.

Swim bedding from Judy Ross and the Tamarind bedding from Anthropologie.

Paraati/Nora and the Marina, both from Crate and Barrel.

Cozy throws add warmth in more ways than one. Chunky Knit throws from Nate Berkus at Linens ‘n Things, and the Lucy crochet throw from Anthropologie.

Handmade quilts from Sweet Felt Goods in Rhode Island.

Contemporary and clean Waves bedding from West Elm. A great gender neutral option.

For flooring I suggest hardwood or bamboo, berber carpeting, creamy white shag rugs, stone, anything made of natural fibers, really. If you want modern, opt for most of Angela Adams’ rugs. She’s from Maine so her designs are inspired by times spent on the shore, and they are made of 100% New Zealand wool. If your budget won’t allow an Adams splurge, look for similiar patterns at a big box store, like Pier 1 or Target. Chiasso is another one to visit.

West Elm Frames shag rug and wood block rug.

Roost pebble felted wool rugs and Roost bamboo flooring via Velocity Art + Design.

Rugs from Angela Adams via Design Public.

The Comma
or the Seed Pod rug from Anthropologie.

Paint suggestions? Try soft, barely-there hues for paint (Bright and Early #834 is heavenly) to lend a sense of spaciousness. If you fancy texture, add grasscloth wallpaper (I love the papers from Twenthy2 shown below) or papers made from another natural fiber. If it’s drama you crave, paint your walls in a dark blue-gray (like Sea Reflections #1664) and trim everything out in pure white, like Decorators White, or trim things out a few shades darker than your wall color. This works well in a formal dining room. Another gorgeous blue is Palladian Blue, it’s one of the most beautiful Robin’s Egg ever. (Colors are from Benjamin Moore.) You can also try Farrow + Ball’s “Elephants Breath” #229, it’s somewhat of a grey and beige combined, aka greige. It’s subtle and gorgeous.

Walls: Never forget the power of wallpaper! Grasscloth is ideal. Think of non-tacky ways to bring the sea home without it becoming a theme park. You can do it!

Grasscloth wallcovering from Twenty2.
Coral with Eyeflowers wallpaper from Rollout, and white algae from Vitra via Velocity Art + Design (I love this in white, makes a terrific, airy room divider).

Windows: Keep it simple, fresh, and no frills. If you can find something with texture, or made from natural materials, all the better. Linens, cottons, bamboos… You get the vibe. This isn’t rocket science, so don’t stress. Trrain you eye and develop your taste. We all make progress as we complete projects, so keep at it when you decorate!

Natural woven waterfall shades from Smith + Noble and 3-D Gap laine felt blinds from Anne Kyyro Quinn (love!), and the Lapis and Wave Motif curtains are from Anthropologie.

Now let’s move on to lighting. There’s a lot out there that works with this look. Good lighting is one of the most important features of a well-designed space, but so often neglected. Here are some good options…

Surprise! These light fixtures are from Pottery Barn.
I’m so impressed with their selection this season.

Surprise! More Pottery Barn beauties. I love these.

Think tactile. The felt loop lighting by Anne Kyyro Quinn is gorgeous, as is the Giacamo driftwood lamp via Zia Priven.

Pendant love! Top row: Coral chandelier from Moth, and Igniq from Bleu Nature.
bottom row: Shell Chandelier (hey, why not?) and Galbraith and Paul Stripe Pendant from Room + Board.

Clockwise from left: Zia Priven Groove lamp, Capiz chandelier from Pier 1, Gold leaf sea fan table lamp from Horchow, Glass Boulder lamp from Anthropologie, Phantom table lamp from CB2.

Accessorize! Now let’s move on to some accessories that fit this look. Colored glass may be on trend right now, but it’s also timeless, so you can feel confident in your purchase. Patterned glasses (especially etched), serving plates in pastels, dinnerware in interesting shapes, ceramics (textured, cut out or pierced designs are in), and plant orbs. Who doesn’t love plant orbs?

Dusk Chellie glasses from Angela Adams, Kahla Cumulus Aerius dinnerware from Lekker, Staxx dinnerware from Crate and Barrel.

Medium Teal Seahorse pillow, Wood Plant Orb, Glass Orbs (great for succulents), Turquoise Gloss Chi planters, all from Sprout Home.

Clockwise: Water Hyacinth placemat, Riverstone napkin ring, Smoked Bamboo placemat, and the Cerchi dinnerware from Pier 1.

More great tabletop options from Pier 1. Mother-of-Pearl Salad Servers, Capiz Charger, and the Pansey napkins.

Driftwood Trivet from Viva Terra and Porcelin Driftwood pieces from Greener Grass Design.

Bubble Bud vase from Rare Device, Surf Stripe grommetted gift tags from Hable Construction (sweet to hang around the neck of a pretty glass bottle), knit ceramics from Loop in London, and vessels from West Elm.

Ceramics from Papa Stour in Scotland.

Glassware from West Elm

Soap, soap leaves, and candles from Simplemente Blanco

Pretty blown glass from Rock Paper Scissors, Hable Construction canvas desktop storage box from Rock Paper Scissors, and ocean paper weights from See Jane Work.

One point to stress… We’re not talking theme-y looks here with starfish and sea urchin everything. Try to not ‘go there’ when you decorate your space. You’re simply bringing your favorite place indoors by creating a spot that brings you peace and joy, using what happens to be a trend, so it’s easy to pull together. Please avoid shopping yourself into a coma (or debt!). There’s more to life, like stretching your imagination and getting creative with what you already have. Mix in smart, new finds with your current space to freshen the mood. You’re smart and confident, you’ll pull off something gorgeous!


Hope you’ve enjoyed this trend report. I’ll be adding a few more trends in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Psst: I highly suggest picking up the current Domino magazine, it’s all about going green. You can even find their green list that Graham from Treehugger pulled togther for them. It’s packed with resources from furniture to rugs, many of which would fit nicely with your new ocean-inspired decor.

Posted in trends on February 22, 2007

International Magazine Swap – Sign Up!

Update 2/23: We need international swappers, US/Canadian side is now full and many await international friends to swap with. Email me if you’re interested. Thanks! :)
It’s time again for our reader swap! If you’d like to participate, read the following guidelines and email me asap at decor8blog AT yahoo DOT com.

1) NEEDED: 10 international (outside of North America) and 10 swappers from America/Canada.

2) 1 us/cad swapper will pair up with 1 int’l. I’ll pick the pair and send both of you the needed contact information. You arrange everything from there. If you’re in America, you can fit two magazines in a US Priority Int’l flat rate mailer for well under $8.

3) Once paired with a swapmate, you are responsible to complete the transaction via email. I’m not involved in this process.

4) Mail 2-3 magazines from your country to your swapmate. They will send the same number of magazines to you. Make sure you agree on a number before sending magazines out.

5) Issues must be new and current for this swap, issues need to be dated March or April.

6) Registration ends Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 5pm EST OR when 20 participants are registered.

7) I’m sure we’ll have more sign up on the us/cad side, so I will accept only the first 10 that email me. Let’s hope we get more than 10 international swappers, in which case, we may be able to include a few more from us/cad side and up the numbers. Let’s wait and see… Last time we had 40 participate.

8) Remember that mailing magazines outside of the US can be somewhat expensive, I recently sent 2 magazines to Australia via airmail and it was around $17 USD. My swapmate spent around $35 Australian to send magazines to me (although she included an 3rd magazine and a little frame as gift). If you want to swap, remember, you’ll need to pay for the shipping. Some people may not consider this when signing up… Although int’l flat rate mailers are available, and those save you a lot of money, so please visit your local post office for details.

9) Ask your swapmate if they have a preference, some of us already have access to International magazines here (and vice versa), so you should let your swapmate know your preference up front.

10) To register, please send me your full name, email, and mailing address to register. Commenting below is great, but you are not officially registered until you EMAIL me at decor8blog [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Please help spread the word on your blogs so we can obtain plenty of International swappers!

Posted in inspiration, small business on February 22, 2007

Blueprint: Sweet 5 Finds

Blueprint arrived over the weekend, but for those of you who do not yet have a copy, I promise this sneak peak won’t be a spoiler. I’m sure lots of you have your subscription copy anyway, so let’s discuss!

This is a surprisingly solid issue, given their first two issues created lots o’ chatter in the blogosphere about its lack of cohesion, over-priced finds, and ‘been there done that’ products and ideas. Some of you were split down the middle, not knowing what to think.

This time, you’ll see a sharp, refreshing contrast. Everything works. It’s vibrant. The styling, gorgeous typography, Marthaesque layout, well-written, informative content — it’s a full course meal. A beautiful collection of things, from entertaining tips to peep toe flats and gorgeous rooms that are well arranged and attainable. I was glad to see Editor-in-Chief Sarah Humphreys bare a bit of her soul with a home tour of her newly decorated 307 sq. ft. foot West Village pad (does everyone live in the village these days?!). It was designed by three Blueprint editors. That was quite cool, at least according to me.

Here are a few tear sheets from my issue, heading straight for my look book.

Find 01. Holly Waterfield’s office space and West Village (see what I mean!) boutique, Camp, are featured. I love how she layers her collections, everything with such care, creating warmth and charm. Here’s her desk…


Find 02. Using job jackets as frames. Brilliant. When I worked in town, I used the black ones constantly to insert project plans in for one wall, and next to my computer, photos I’d taken to perk me up. I had no clue that they were available in a myriad of colors, and to use them in the home as art, well that’s just clever! Some Blueprint tips: Insert lightweight children’s books that you love, vintage magazine covers, kids art, food labels, origami papers, calendar pages (letterpressed or illustrated), greeting cards or postcards, digital photos, and seed packages. I’d like to add favorite textiles, wallpaper, stamps, and current magazines (or just their covers) that you find inspiring to their list. Blueprint lists Lineco as a resource, but their website doesn’t show these jackets, so you have to call them. I suggest googling “job jackets” or “job ticket holders” until you find what you need. You can also try Filmguard, they carry them in several primary colors, or try Media Street.


Find 03. This was an exciting find. Polaroids neatly arranged on the wall with acid-free double-stick tape behind a plexiglas sheet. I want to run out and buy a polaroid camera right now. Everything old is new again, including polaroids. Another major find in this photo is that killer stainless-steel table. I love metal tables, but hadn’t known about this resource until now. Visit Restaurant Services online for affordable metal, this one starts at $281.

Find 04. Oh the Parsons table. Margaret Russell calls it the little black dress of interior design, the one piece everyone should own. I’m on board. But it’s not the Parsons that I’m interested in here. It’s that photo over it. It’s an oversized picture of an Italian beach scene that the homeowners love, and not in a small way, either. It’s large and in charge. Mounted on gatorfoam board (which Blueprint assures us is stronger than foam core), you can mount it with velcro tabs from the office store. Turn your favorite image into art for as little as $100 at Duggal. Love!

Find 05. Sarah’s apartment. Great spread, lots of ideas, loads of detail (even a floor plan), and beautiful photos. I love her new shelving systems, styled as perfectly as you’d expect from Martha staffers, and her superb sofa and fabric divider between the kitchen and living room space. Not shown, but worth a mention, is her iMac cozy. I actually started designing these about 8 years ago for friends and then, when the new sexy iMacs came out, saw no need to keep producing them because most people feel Apple is like Prada, it makes a statement. Seeing her iMac cozy made me rethink all this… It’s back to the machine for me!


With talk of a new Blueprint Saturday afternoon Block Party on the Style Network, their own blog due to roll out soon, and the Blueprint radio hour, Tuesdays at noon EST on the Martha Stewart Living Radio channel 112 on Sirius, it looks like Blueprint is ready to dig in. They even plan to roll out 6 issues this year, so it doesn’t look like Blueprint is fading into the sunset, but building for a very strong, and confident, delivery for ’07.

(images from blueprint)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, diy, tips on February 22, 2007

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