In just a few hours, give humdrum built-ins shoreside panache.

By Lacey N. Howard
August 02, 2005
Jean Allsopp

Use these ideas to make a coastal display as interesting as thestories on your shelves.

Feel the rhythm.Mix items of different heights, shapes, and visual weight. First,vary horizontal and vertical stacks of books on each ledge. Fillvoids and balance the arrangement with favorite accessories.

Shelve it. Create a gallery for coastal collections. Here,boat models, shell art, and antique globes gain prominence. Forimpact, group small items of similar subjects. Larger pieces maystand alone. Art hung in unexpected ways adds a decorativeelement.

Double your storage. Baskets in a variety of shapes, weaves,and colors hide CDs, magazines, blankets, toys, and more.

Dive deep. Give your shelves depth by adding color ortexture to the back wall. Paint the rear surface to coordinate withthe room's wall color. Or, for design flexibility, cover cut-to-fitfoam board (purchased from an art supply store) with fabric orwallpaper. Choose one style, or mix and match for loads ofpersonality.• Take a seat. Adding custom built-ins? Leave room for a benchor window seat. For this room, we used fade- and stain-resistantoutdoor fabric to welcome the weary.