Tips for designing a home that brings the beach inside

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press •May 7, 2016

If you're like me and your favorite chair is a beach chair, your favorite shoes are flip flops and your preferred color palette is the one in your beach umbrella, you likely love the beach and want to have a little of it in your home.

Whether you live steps from the beautiful Gulf shores of Southwest Florida or just wish you did, you can design your home interior to reflect the colors, feelings and hues that will make you feel the tranquility and beauty that only the beach can provide.

WHIMSICAL CLOWN FISH ARE FROM COLE & SON'S ACQUARIO FORNASITTI II. THE WALL COVERING CREATES A DRAMATIC BACKDROP FOR AN ENTRY TABLE STYLED WITH FAVORITE BEACH-INSPIRED PIECES. PHOTO: COLE & SONS.

Beach house decor style is about a lifestyle. An attitude. It's about living with nature and capturing the essence of a long walk on a beach. Striking that balance between casual and a touch of formality. Collecting driftwood and shells. And finding a way to bring a piece of it home.

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, many of my clients want to incorporate at least some aspect of our environment into their space.  Whether you live in an apartment, condo, single family home or an Airstream travel trailer, it's easily doable. And fun. Check out my favorite tips, pick one and get to work!

Bright and white

Take advantage of the great tropical lighting that we enjoy in this area. You can't beat a white backdrop for your walls. One of my other favorite go-to-colors for a beach cottage  look is Benjamin Moore's Silver Satin. And use Benjamin Moore's Decorator White for trim. Just enough hue and sparkle and has that "old Florida beach cottage" feeling.

Classic coastal color palette

Vintage Ship door sits atop pilings and holds glass layered with sea glass. Photo: Wrenda Goodwyn.

Accessories, fabric, accents are beautiful when done in sea glass accents. Seafoam green/blues. And remember: a bit of turquoise in every room. Even if it's just a bowl of shells mixed with sea glass.

Beach-inspired kitchen

While my favorite kitchen is one done in all white, you can add contrast to white walls with pale grey/blue cabinets. Or bead board (so easy to do this and a great look) in a sea glass tone around the island or bar. Stainless appliances.

 Style a coffee table or entry table

If you don't do anything else, this is the one. It sets the tone of your home. This is where you display your favorite nautical elements: seashells, driftwood, glass jars with seaglass, art, books. I love working books into the mix. Some of my favorites: Island Life by India Hicks and Key West: A Tropical Lifestyle by Leslie Linsley.

Accent walls

For a little beach drama, select a wall in the entry or in a powder room. Cover it in one of the beautiful grass cloth wall coverings or something similar to the whimsical clown fish Cole & Son's Acquario Fornasitti ii. Place this behind your styled entry table or a gorgeous mirror and you don't need anything else to bring the beach home!

Windows

White shutters or light linen drapes are best.  When using drapes, I like to trim them with fabric tape in a sea glass hue. And remember, always hang drapes from just below the ceiling for as much height as possible.

Furniture

Style a bookcase or shelving with a tropical theme. Incorporate white furnishings, white walls and a jute rug. Photo: Pottery Barn. 

It's all about casual comfort. Cushioned or slip covered sofas and chairs will get you the look but you don't need to redo your furnishings. Just add a couple of bamboo chairs and maybe a stool with tropical or white cushions.(Bamboo can be painted: think flea markets). Add a couple of colorful garden stools. These can work as side tables for extra seating. Add colorful pillows.

It's 5 o'clock someplace!

Style a cart with a tiki bar theme. Include artwork on the walls behind the cart and add some of your favorite pieces along with beachy glasses and a plant or two. I like to include a colorful cloth awning over the cart to set it apart.  

Artwork

It's all about color and this is where the room comes to life. I have my clients look through magazines and on Pinterest to seek out paintings and photographs that speak to them and we work it into the mix. One of my favorites: take some your own favorite photographs and stretch them on canvas. This style is perfect for a casual look and is a great memory of someplace you have been.

Flooring

Sand would be perfect for a beach lover but it's best to incorporate natural fiber rugs such as sisal, jute or seagrass. They look great and some of the modern styles have a contemporary look, allowing for trim in coastal colors. Think: coral.

Design your bookshelf

This is one of my favorites. First, pick a sea-inspired color and paint the back of the bookcase or the wall. Creatively, arrange and showcase your artwork, books, driftwood, shells and other elements to give it that "just washed up on the beach look."

Accents

Display your shells in jars and bowls. I like a bowl of shells in every room. There is one by my computer as I write this article. They make me happy and take me someplace else when I have to work can't get to the beach!

Incorporate Capiz mirrors and lighting fixtures.

Purchase bamboo flatware and sea-inspired dishes to use every day.

Add a couple of palm trees to your decor...large or small. They say "tropical" and are good for the air quality in your home.

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog 

 

Simply white: How to get it right in your home

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • November 14, 2015

When Benjamin Moore recently announced its 2016 Color of the Year – Simply White OC-117, there was a lot of surprise among designers and homeowners. Many wondered why Benjamin Moore had selected a color that was lacking in color. Others love it for its versatile, crisp, cleanliness.

 All white family room walls are done in Simply White )C-117, matte finish. Trim is Simply White semi gloss. Photo: Benjamin Moore.

 All white family room walls are done in Simply White )C-117, matte finish. Trim is Simply White semi gloss. Photo: Benjamin Moore.

At the same time, the company also unveiled Color Trends 2016, a corresponding palette of 23 colors to illustrate how white works within the color spectrum. The selections include a variety of yummy hues like Lemonade, Patriot Blue, French Press, Creme Puff, Ravishing Redand Gentle Violet. And this is where white really shines.

Where do these trends come from?

The Benjamin Moore Color Studio forecasts color trends after a year of research attending major industry shows around the world, while also taking cues from standouts in architecture, fashion, textiles, home furnishings and the arts. White transcends style, and is seen in traditional, transitional and modern interiors.

White with a pop of cheerful yellow. Accent wall in Banana Yellow 2022-40, eggshell finish.  Wall and ceiling in Paper White OC-55, eggshell finish. Ceiling in Waterborne Ceiling Paint, ultra-flat finish. Photo: Benjamin Moore.

White with a pop of cheerful yellow. Accent wall in Banana Yellow 2022-40, eggshell finish.  Wall and ceiling in Paper White OC-55, eggshell finish. Ceiling in Waterborne Ceiling Paint, ultra-flat finish. Photo: Benjamin Moore.

As a Fort Myers interior decorator who spends every waking moment thinking about color and creating color palettes for my clients, I can tell you two things about white:

·       It's not boring. That would be beige but not white. It's like an artist's canvas. Start with white and you can go anywhere without a commitment that will come back to haunt you. And there is no color that doesn't work with white. The right white.

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    Create a beautiful color palette for your home using white and Benjamin Moore's Color Trends for 2016. Photo: Benjamin Moore.

Create a beautiful color palette for your home using white and Benjamin Moore's Color Trends for 2016. Photo: Benjamin Moore.

·       Depending upon the room, the light, the furnishings, the artwork, white can be bit tricky to pull off.  Done well, it's spectacular. Done poorly, it leaves a lot to be desired. I like to start with white as a backdrop and build the room from there with lots of texture, accents and accessories.

My favorite white rooms

·       Master bathrooms. No color gives a master bath a cleaner, more spa-like feel that white. Combine it with white tile, towels, rugs, accessories and beautiful white sconces and you have a total makeover.

·       Kitchens. Dark flooring, white cabinets and countertops, stainless pendant lighting, white or stainless appliances. Perhaps a yellow or blue accent wall. Beautiful.

Try either of these options and you will have friends asking for the name of your interior decorator.

Add drama to a white room with a wall done in Mascarpone AF-20, eggshell finish. Entry is in Royal Flush 2076-20 in eggshell finish. Trim (semi gloss) and door (satin finish) in Ballet White OC-9. Photo: Benjamin Moore.

Add drama to a white room with a wall done in Mascarpone AF-20, eggshell finish. Entry is in Royal Flush 2076-20 in eggshell finish. Trim (semi gloss) and door (satin finish) in Ballet White OC-9. Photo: Benjamin Moore.

If you are thinking about a white room in your home

·       White can be very dramatic by itself or with accent walls or just the right furnishings.

·       White gives you a chance to start with a clean palette. To experiment with other colors, accent walls. All without the commitment of an expensive wallpaper.

·       Yes, white is a color.  There are 200 whites at Benjamin Moore. Five of the top ten selling paints in their collection are whites.

·       Beware of undertones. Yes, those pesky shades of green, pink, blue, gray...depending upon the color and the lighting. Get around making a mistake by painting a portion of a wall as a test and check it out as the light changes during the day. This is something that I tell my clients to do with any color but with white it's especially important.

·       White is forgiving. It can make flaws in your walls fade away where a bright color calls attention to every detail.

·       If white frightens you, start with white sofas, chairs. Then see if you want to go further. White can be in your accessories and furnishings. It does not have to be on your walls.

·       A white room requires lots of textures and accessories. My favorite: white walls, dark flooring, area rugs,  white comfy sofas, lots of colorful pillows, green plants, colorful art on walls,  white shutters. This is a room that if pulled together correctly, screams "come in and make yourself at home."

And that's what it's all about.

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Her column, Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog