Ten Ways to Beach Up Your Home

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Celebrate summer year-round, whether you live on the coast or inland.
1. Lighten Up

Whites we like: Decorators White #04, White Dove #06, Linen White #72 (all by Benjamin Moore)

2. Give a Lift
Make the ceilings above your porch or living spaces seem higher with a hint of ocean blue. Remember, a little color goes a long way. The effect is not meant to be dramatic, so choose a delicate shade.

Best blues: Homestead Resort Spa Aqua #5004-5A by Valspar (available at Lowes), and Brighton Beach #108-E by Ace Paint.

3. From the Ground Up
Paint wooden floors. The result is whimsical and fun, especially on porches or in kitchens. Paint floors solid, stripe them, or create a seaside mural underfoot, with faux sand, shells, and coral.

Designer tip: For durability, use interior/exterior porch and floor enamel. Cover murals with clear polyurethane.

4. Add Texture
Bring the outside in at a relatively low cost with natural floor coverings, such as sisal, sea grass, jute, or bamboo. They all make great area rugs, and sea grass and sisal can be applied wall-to-wall or as stair runners.

Find it fast: potterybarn.com, naturalarearugs.com, curranfloor.com

5. Create Shade
Replace formal sheers or metal blinds with woven, bamboo, or linen shades to lend a casual feel to any room. Roman shades are inexpensive and fold up to let in loads of natural light.

Go to the source: target.com, smithandnoble.com, theshadestore.com

6. Give New Life to Furniture
Paint salvaged pieces an unexpected color. For inspiration, think of a summer icon, such as a beach umbrella or even a swimsuit. Look curbside or check out local garage sales for finds you can reinvent. And remember: Imperfections lend character.

* Our favorites: Mountain View #583 (cool ocean hue), Marmalade #2016-40 (vivid sunset), Light Yellow #2022-60 (warm summer sunshine), Hibiscus #2027-50 (our favorite mixed drink), Light Blue #2066-70 (clear skies), Frosted Petal #2089-70 (shade of fresh flowers), all by Benjamin Moore

7. Cover Up
Slipcover furniture to bring a lighthearted, beachy feel to any room. Fabrics can be changed with the seasons and easily cleaned. Linen is a natural fiber appropriate for both upholstery and draperies. Its texture and neutral color provide a backdrop for hotter accents, such as pillows and painted pieces. Cotton duck cloth is a more durable option for upholstery.

Ready-made options: Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic and Lee Industries offer furnishings that can be matched with a variety of fabrics.

8. Borrow from Nature
Comb the beach for treasures from the sea. When cleaned and bleached, sea stars, sand dollars, driftwood, rocks, and pieces of coral create one-of-a-kind accents at no cost. Shells always make a great display, whether you cluster them in a bowl, let a single shell stand alone, or use them to encrust a mirror, mantle, or chandelier. (Be sure to check local laws before removing seashells, coral, or other natural items.)

9. Accessorize Well
Create a scrapbook of beach memories, or look for coffee table books that celebrate the shore. You can also add subtle accents-such as coasters, paperweights, or hand towels-that are printed with seaside images.

Items we love: Beach Wisdom: Life Lessons From The Ocean (Andrews McMeel, 2003), the Paradise Scrapbook Album, and Iomoi's coasters and paperweights.

10. Use Good Scents
Fill the air with sea-inspired fragrances. Mist linens or entire rooms with a delicate spray, light an aromatic candle, or set out potpourri.

* Olfactory favorites: The Good Home Company's Beach Days Sheet & Clothing Spray, Lori Lori's Crystal Beach Candle Collection, Earth Elements Ocean Rock scented botanicals, and Cottage & Bungalow's Home Fragrance Collection in Beach, Salty Air, Skinny Dip, Seaside, Sea Glass, Beach Grass, Island, or Warm Sand

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