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 

 

Home sweet rental home: Make it yours and keep the landlord happy

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • April 9, 2016

Colorful adhesive tiles from Mirth for an entry, bathroom or kitchen.  Photo  Courtesy of Mirth.

Renting. It's a lot like moving into a home that you own. Almost.

You want to repaint the walls. Replace the carpeting.  Hang some artwork.  Update the kitchen. Get new window treatments. Toss out the grungy switch plates. And a lot more.

In other words: you want and need to make the space your own.

But there is the landlord to think about.

Changing drawer and cabinet pulls to personalize your rental decor. Photo courtesy of Anthropologie.

Changing drawer and cabinet pulls to personalize your rental decor. Photo courtesy of Anthropologie.

Maybe you have sold a home and have temporarily moved into a rental space until you decide what to do with the rest of your home-owning life.  Perhaps you are a boomer and plan to free yourself of the responsibility, throw caution to the wind and travel for the rest of your life and keep a rental apartment as a place to come home to. As a Southwest Florida interior decorator,  I've had clients in both rental situations. And many more.

Eventually, we all seem to end up in a rental home for the long or short term.  And the fine line between making it your own and crossing over to where the landlord decides not to give you the deposit back when you leave...well the lines can be a bit blurry.

Before you paint that red accent wall in the entry, you may want to consider a few rental-friendly tips that will have you saying "home sweet home" in no time. And even if you never plan to rent, these tips will serve you well if you are in a temporary situation or just don't have the budget to do everything right now.

It's only paint

It an accent wall or a bathroom with color on the walls will make you happy, do it. Just be prepared to paint it back in a neutral tone when you leave. This alone, can make all the difference in how you feel about your rental space.

Accents

Drawer and cabinet pulls will change your kitchen and bathrooms. Replace them with something that you like and take them with you when you leave. And while you are at it, dump the old switch plates and replace them with new ones. Favorite: the colorful Nannette pull from Anthropologie. 

Change the flooring (some of it).

Peel and stick floor tiles have been around for a while but today, you can find a selection that is colorful and fun. And easy to apply. Sources: Mirth Studio and Home Depot. Try this in an entry, bathroom or kitchen to completely change the look.

Pottery Barn's Lucianna Medallion pole pocket drape  is a great "fix" to add your own look to windows or sliders. Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn.

Window treatments

These are often the worst part of what a landlord leaves for tenants. At best, you may have not so attractive blinds. But this is where you can put some fabric and color into your decor. Invest in some drapes. Or at least drapery panels to give your rooms a little love. One of my favorite, inexpensive go to sources:  the Moorish tiles drapes at Pier One. Or the Lucianna medallion-pole-pocket-drape from Pottery Barn. They come in a variety of colors and great for a temporary fix.

Kitchen backsplash

For a tile look, Tic Tac adhesive tiles. Photo courtesy of Tic Tac Tiles.

This is one of my favorite fixes. Since I always spec a neutral backsplash for my clients when redoing their kitchen, I love the fact that you can do the same thing with Tic Tac adhesive tiles or the Smart Tiles from Home Depot. Completely change the look of your kitchen and remove them when you leave.

You won't believe it's removable wallpaper

ReUsable wallpaper tiles by Hygge and West are removable so you can take them when you leave your rental or enjoy them for a long time. Photo courtesy of Hygge  and West.

You would be surprised to know how many of my clients use this in part-time homes or if they just aren't sure about using wallpaper. And the result: spectacular. You can find these in Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond and other big box home stores. They vary in quantity and in price depending upon how much you want to invest.  My favorite is Hygge and West.  These removable wallpaper tiles can go with you and are reusable. And you will want to reuse them. Beautiful colors and designs that are ideal for renters and temporary installations. A game- changer for a rental property.

Lighting

Overhead lighting may not be the best in your rental home. So invest in a few floor lamps that warm up your rooms. And they will go with you to your next home. If the builder's grade lighting in the bathroom is not working for you, try a lamp on the counter to tone down the glare. Or invest in inexpensive lighting over your mirror.

 

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

 

Home Inspirations: When to save and when to splurge

It's always a dilemma! Where in your home should you splurge and where should you save? For some of the tricks of the design trade, read my column in the Fort Myers News-Press!

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• September 6, 2014

It’s a talent. Some of us are good at it. Designers have all kinds of tricks to make it work. And you can also do it with a few trade secrets! It’s all about knowing when to splurge and when to save. And it can be a little tricky.

 Splurge on dining room table but save on chairs that can be reupholstered when you are ready for a change.     Photo: Pottery Barn.  

 Splurge on dining room table but save on chairs that can be reupholstered when you are ready for a change.     Photo: Pottery Barn.
 

First of all, establish a reasonable budget when you are making changes and purchases for your home. It will save a lot of frustration and heartbreak. And if you are working with a decorator, a budget allows them to focus on doing the best job for you.

Here are a few of my tried and true tips on when to spend and when to look like you did.

Splurge!

Sofa: As a southwest Florida interior decorator, I tell all my clients to spend as much as you can afford on your sofa. This is the most important piece (or pieces) in your home and you need to get the most for your money. It gets the most use on a daily basis. If you are purchasing a sofa that you plan to keep for a while (as opposed to a sofa that the kids will use as their play space for a few more years before you throw it out!), look for eight-way, hand-tied construction. It will give you the long-lasting durability and is the best value for your expenditure. Don’t be misled by trendy brands that look pretty in the showroom or photos, ask about the construction before you purchase. Suggestions: Vanguard, Sherrill, Stickley, Henredon.

Stainless appliances: This is a purchase that you are making for the long-term. It’s worth the investment.  

Fabric: If you are going to go to the expense of upholstering a chair or making drapes, it’s worth the investment in quality fabric that has the texture, pattern and feel that enhances the look of your home.

Kitchen counter tops: Quartz, granite, marble.

Lighting: Get the lighting right and everything else in your home will look beautiful. Don’t forget the dimmers.

Bedding: Including mattresses, pillows, and linens. It goes without saying, there is nothing better than slipping into a comfortable bed with fine linens.

Art: If you have the budget, yes, build a collection. You can also, especially in southwest Florida, visit the many consignment shops that resell art.

Splurge/save!

Splurge on the dining room table and save on the chairs. The table should be a purchase that will last a long time. Go for a timeless look. For the chairs, save by purchasing fabric chairs that can be reupholstered when you want a change.

Save!                                                                                                                                                   

Bathroom vanities: Purchase these off the rack! Forgo custom and check out Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Lowes and Home Depot for vanities that come in a style to fit your décor. 

Drapes: This is one of my favorites for clients who want to save. Because custom drapes can quickly drain your decorating budget, purchase off the rack and embellish with trims and ties. Or if you have your heart set on a designer fabric, create panels for both sides of the window and save on the amount of fabric needed.

Pillows: Create beautiful pillows embellished with trims and save $$$ by using a less expensive fabric on one side of the pillow.

Accessories: This is what makes your home. It gives it a personality and reflects your style. And this is the easiest place to save by shopping around for the best deals. Online, big box stores, antique shops, flea markets. Go for what is unique to your taste.  

Custom closets: If this is not in your budget but you want the look of a custom closet, check out the storage systems offered at the Container Store and Bed, Bath and Beyond. You can install these yourself. Then add a piece of furniture and a chandelier and you have a designer closet!  

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. 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

Want a home that makes you happy?

Call me. I will help you create Spectacular Spaces in your home!

Time to hire a professional? Read my tips for working with an interior decorator in the Fort Myers News-Press.

Home Inspirations: Window treatments define a room's style

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• October 5, 2013

From Ballard Designs: Drapes hung just below molding give this beautiful room a balanced look.

Every designer knows that from the fabric to the hardware, window treatments define the style of a room.

Drapes provide impact through the use of color, pattern, texture and decorative details. And when hung right, they give the illusion of height in a room. They can visually widen a window, letting in lots of light.

And yet, window treatments are the most confusing component of interior decor to homeowners. We dress up a window for various reasons: privacy, to block sunlight, to disguise a not so pretty window and to add fabric and color to a room to make it interesting.  And if you don’t need window treatments for any of these reasons, you may wish to think about leaving the windows bare, especially if your window is architecturally beautiful or if you have a view that should be unblocked. 

It is a good idea to live in the room for a while to decide what works best for your lifestyle. Because there is a financial commitment, you don’t want to make a mistake. And there are lots of choices. From shutters to shades to panels to full drapes. Not an expert? No problem. Here are a few tips that I use for my southwest Florida clients who want to incorporate fabric into their space with draperies.

Still need a puddle? Try this mini puddle from Pottery Barn.

Puddling or not?

For the most part, I say, not. Oh, sure, the yards and yards of fabric gathered on the floor in a prefect arrangement are gorgeous. And if they are being done for a photo, they are great. But that is the problem. Like the big wedding dress that gathers at the bottom, it only works in photos. If you vacuum or open and close your puddled drapes, they are not for you.  One the other hand, if you have a large room (like a ballroom with lots of space) and someone to constantly rearrange and dust them, they may work. But on a day to day basis for most of us, they are just too formal and need lots of floor space to do the look justice. The theatrical look works for some (large) spaces and certainly adds drama to a room. But remember that big wedding dress.

Still not convinced? Okay. If you must have a puddle or a mini puddle, hang your silk or faux silk drapes all the way to the floor with a break to get the effect. But not a full puddle. Two or threeinches.

Hang them high!

Don't do that (left)! Do this (right)!

This rule works every time. To give a room height and an elegant look, hang them high. From just below the crown molding or ceiling. And this applies to any window in your main living space. Indoor/outdoor fabric is a great way to go for cleaning and dusting.

Drapery panels

If you have a shade, panels or shutter over the window and really don’t need a full drape to block light or to provide privacy, this is the way to go. It’s a very elegant look and will save some money. Pick out a beautiful fabric or readymade panel with some fullness to it. Select decorative hardware and ties, if needed, and make sure to give the panels some width to make the window look larger and as always, hang from the ceiling or just below molding.

Toppings, cornices, valances

Depending upon your window, this may be the perfect accent. These work with shades, shutters and panels. Just the decorative element to add some style to the room. Whether they work as an accent or to cover up unsightly tracks and rods, they work in combination with other treatments. Southwest Florida clients like them with shutters and blinds because they soften the hard look of wooden window coverings. They also visually raise the height of a window.

And whether it is a beautiful view or exotic fabric, we all want beautiful windows.

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. 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, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog