Photo: Marc Royce

Sasha Emerson of Sasha Emerson Design Studio in Santa Monica, California, dishes on easy and unexpected design ideas.

By Stephanie Gibson

"The beach provokes my imagination and joy as nothing else can. Sand, shore, water, sky—simple elements that add up to elegant perfection."
—Sasha Emerson

How can I bring laid-back, subtle island style to my home?
SE: True island style is very eclectic; I love how the interiors are a mix of items. Some favorites: pillows sewn from linen napkins, colorful ukuleles mounted on hooks, woven baskets filled with rolled-up beach towels, and old bunting banners.

What's something everyone should have in a beach house?
SE: A handshower to rinse sandy feet and a cotton blanket for breezy nights.

What's the best part about working on the coast?
SE: Midday swims on my lunch break—and the fantasy that the house I'm working in is mine!

What is the best way to layer tropical prints and bold color?
SE: Add them on top of a neutral base—bright pottery pieces against a white wall, Galbraith & Paul pillows piled on a white sofa, a single wall painted turquoise and filled with art. The key is to start with white, cream, pale blush, or gray, and layer from there.

You May Like