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Decorating Your Coastal Retreat

by Gail McCauley

Creating a coastal retreat focuses on connecting a living space to an environment.

Lifestyles are easy and interiors are oriented to the sea, subtly incorporating beachcombing keepsakes throughout the home decor. Often eclectic in style, a touch of the coast can aesthetically coexist with any color scheme or decor.

Whether a primary residence, vacation home or weekend getaway, the coastal abode delights in uncomplicated style. There are no recipes or rules for the coastal color palette. Purposefully selected color groupings assist with the creation of casual coastal elegance. Traditional sand and sea colors such as variations of blues, greens and neutrals are particularly attractive when spotlighted using soft, sunbleached combinations of color. Bold fluctuations of hues that are characteristic of the ocean also produce dynamic color groupings. Navy and white color duos, highlighted with red accents demonstrate timeless nautical flavor.

The application of paint can be effectively used to implement a seaside air throughout the coastal home.

Favorite paintable motifs including fish and underwater creatures, seashells, boats and anchors, lighthouses, nautical flags, surfboards and waves often form the basis for exciting interior themes. Painted nautical signs or vintage nautical paintings can be propped up on fireplace mantels or hung on exterior walls to compliment outdoor living spaces. Hand painted seaside murals may be fashioned on accent walls to coordinate with headboards, chests of drawers and bedside tables. Ocean like designs that are painted directly onto floor coverings around a perimeter space create fanciful borders or can be used to create a "faux" accent rug.

Special effect paint techniques, such as a delicately sponged blue sky, are often established to reflect coastal themes. Decorative paint techniques can be applied to solid colored walls, or partnered with wallpaper or fabric wallcoverings. Painted beadboarding can be gracefully applied to wall or ceiling coverings to evoke a refreshing coastal style. This technique is particularly effective when subdued colors are selected to reflect sunwashed interiors. White washed and painted furnishings compliment the casual coastal feel. Wide, narrow, horizontal and vertical painted stripes are classic coastal favorites that are simple enough that even the novice do-it-yourself painter can achieve instant painting success.

Easy looks blend with the eclectic elegance of the coastal interior. Particularly desirable amongst small coastal getaways, bunk beds offer compact sleeping accommodations for family members and guests. Decorate bunk beds with coverlets and throw pillows, then paint to match the existing color scheme.

Painted ship style ladders are an imaginative way to lead family members or guests to bunk beds or lofts. An easily paintable surface, hooks are a simple and economical way of storing and drying clothing at the beach. With the addition of paint, even a yard sale sideboard can be converted into a functional and fashionable bathroom vanity by integrating plumbing, a sink and the application of a whimsical coastal design. Found shells used to fill ordinary bottles or starfish placed on open shelving are found natural accessories that are especially attractive when painted and scattered throughout the coastal home. Sand pails constructed from varying fabrications can be painted and used for storage of small household items.

A fresh coat of exterior paint instantly perks up a disparate coastal front porch seating vignette. Painted vertical slats are an attractive and easy way to lend a festive air to popular Adirondack-style outdoor furnishings. Durability is a key element when selecting furnishings that are exposed to nature's elements on the coast. The application of quality exterior paint to hard surfaces such as wicker cane and bamboo offers unification of mismatched styles and enduringness for years to come.

A homeowner's personal choice of furnishings and accessories combined with a paint palette that considers the coastal landscape and its tones, graciously forms the basis for today's contemporary coastal retreats. Uncomplicated and casual living married to touches of seaside trinkets represent key ingredients for creating a stylish coastal residence. Anchors away!

Gail McCauley for the
Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute

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