Erika Powell of Urban Grace Interiors in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, gets you started with color tips and table tricks.

By Stephanie Gibson
July 12, 2012
Photo: Marla and Shane Photographers

"Salty air and sand beneath your feet have a funny way of keeping life in perspective. I hope that trickles down to my work."
—Erika Powell

If I buy only one new piece for my beach home this season, what should it be?
EP: A porch swing or a hammock! We always had Pawley's Island hammocks growing up. I just bought one, and I love it—there is nothing more relaxing, and quilted fabric ones don't dig into your backside like the rope ones.

How can I include a punch of color and pattern in a noteworthy way in my living room?
EP: Ceilings are always an unexpected place to introduce a color. A painted ceiling won't compete with a peaceful living room, but when you look up, it's an element of surprise that guests won't forget. It's sort of like falling more in love with a purse or a jacket when you discover the beautiful inside lining!

I'm throwing a dinner party at the beach. How do I make it elegant but fresh?
EP: A burlap tablecloth and rattan chargers are understated and pretty. I'd add doses of color with blue or green plates, or patterned dish towels for napkins, and then fill a long platter in the center of the table with something unusual, such as shiny silver bocce balls—I love that they double as an after-dinner game.