Designer Laura Motley shares how to find design inspiration from the ocean—whether you live on the beach or just wish you did.
By Susan Stiles Dowell
1 of 7Photographer: Lisa Romerein, Stylist: Jennifer Barguiarena
1. Reinvent Your Pieces
Get the look: The coffee table and chairs are from Rooms & Gardens. The China Seas Kazak chair fabric and Java Java stool fabric in New Blue on White are from Quadrille Fabrics. The sea grass rug is from Merida.
When the new owners of a cottage in Summerland, California, looked out their windows to the view, they felt like they were "floating on an endless sea." So designer Laura Motley of Rooms & Gardens in Santa Barbara took her cues—and hues—from the Pacific to help them create a fresh look inside the 2,000-square-foot cottage. Motley chose an ikat fabric from the China Seas Suncloth collection for the living room chairs to complement the fretwork on the stools. The Javanese teak table was cut down to coffee table height.
2 of 7Photographer: Lisa Romerein, Stylist: Jennifer Barguiarena
2. Ride a Wave of Color
On the sunny upper deck, all-weather wicker chairs and a black iron table get a jolt of color from pillows that borrow their aqua shade from the beach breakers below. The pillows' coral print introduces the sea life theme that is played out in accessories throughout the house.
3 of 7Photographer: Lisa Romerein, Stylist: Jennifer Barguiarena
3. Be Flexible
The covered porch off the first-floor bedrooms is a big draw, thanks in part to its modular seating, which can be pushed together to provide a plush pad for snuggling with pups, pulled apart for a party, or lined up for a quick nap.
Get the look: The family dogs lounge on a modular sectional from Pottery Barn.
4 of 7Photographer: Lisa Romerein, Stylist: Jennifer Barguiarena
4. Get in the Mix
Motley was able to ground the large den by using a variety of fabrics to define different seating areas. "I love mixing prints," she says. "It can be difficult, but it helps to organize the space." The furniture was strategically placed so as not to interfere with the views.
5 of 7Photographer: Lisa Romerein, Stylist: Jennifer Barguiarena
5. Go Under Cover
White denim slipcovers on the dining chairs are stain resistant and easily laundered, and grow softer with use. "I needed something that was easy to care for but didn't compromise the look I wanted," says the wife. "Slipcovers are the perfect solution." The round table opens to seat eight.
6 of 7Photographer: Lisa Romerein, Stylist: Jennifer Barguiarena
6. Accept a Complement
Motley mixed fabrics in the master bedroom—weaving in prints with complementary blue hues on the pillows and paisley headboard. "I wanted the room to be placid," says the wife, "so Laura found ways to use colors that weren't distracting."