Tim Clarke of Tim Clarke Design in Santa Monica, California, reveals his tried-and-true tips for beautiful interiors.

By Stephanie Gibson
July 12, 2012
Photo: Lisa Romerein

"I love how the ocean is constantly changing. It can be blue one day, gray the next—and an orange Pacific is just amazing."
—Tim Clarke

Is there anything beach-themed you absolutely love to use in your decor?
TC: The obvious answer: I love shells because they're natural art to me. I like to use them as a sculptural element—a fossil shell on a marble base, for example. I also really like the nautical look of rope; a rope-covered lamp base is fantastic.

Curtains in a beach house: yes or no?
TC: Yes! I'm a fan of simple, clean, unlined curtains, like linen. A view is so much prettier when it's framed with something beautiful.

If you had to use only one type of flooring throughout a coastal house, what would you choose?
TC: A very rustic, wide-plank French oak in a gray driftwood color. It's the most forgiving with sand and dog hair and people coming in and out. The more it's used, the better it looks.

How do you incorporate collections?
TC: I like arranging them in a group—French bottles or local pottery on shelves in the family room or washed-up beach glass in clear jars—so they inspire conversation.

What is your favorite way to pull a modern piece into a coastal home?
TC: Add a white-lacquered dining table to a set of antique dining chairs. The surprise element prevents it from feeling too kitschy.

Let us in on a secret—what are three great sources for beachy accessories?
TC: Calypso St. Barth, Juxtaposition Home, and Mecox Gardens.

Find more inspiration in his new book, Coastal Modern: Sophisticated Homes Inspired by the Ocean (The Crown Publishing Group).