Who doesn’t dream of owning their own vacation cottage by the sea, or maybe a rustic, private mountain lodge by a babbling brook! But if a second home isn’t in the cards just yet, these ideas from an established interior designer can help transform a living room, bedroom, the spare room in your house or apartment or all of the above into a nautical or wilderness oasis. Can you just smell the sea, or hear the wind in the pines?!
“When we think of the shore, we think of clean, spare, open spaces,” said Susan Stine, IIDA, owner of D.C.-based interior design firm Redteam Strategies. Along those lines, her first recommendation is to remove everything. “Take out the usual rugs, heavy draperies, and change the art and accessories to beach-oriented themes,” she said.
With a white and light blue color palette emblematic of summer at the beach, Stine advocates swapping out darker throw pillows for whites and various shades of blue. She also recommends slip-covering sofas and other seating with white canvas. Organic sisal or sea grass rugs in place of heavier, more conventional ones are in order, and Stine said that after any draperies are removed, the blinds should be left to stand alone for windows to allow in as much natural light as possible. Or, buy some gauze window fabric and grommets to hang from a drapery rod (one that’s already there, to make it easier and more economical). “You want the space as light, airy, and open as possible,” she affirmed.
If changing your décor is a permanent solution, actually painting the walls a light, soft aqua and the ceiling the same way (Stine loves the look of white walls with a pale aqua ceiling) is a great way to bring the beach home. Lighter natural woods also do the trick, so purchasing a few ready-made or unfinished tables, for the DIY’ers, along with natural wood picture frames, bowls, magazine holders, and other accents will help transform the space.
“The main idea is to keep everything uncluttered and light,” Stine said. “If you have a bookcase lined with books, turning the spines around to reveal only the white pages is an effective, inexpensive fix to lighten a room.”
As for art, if walls are light and the rest of the space is neutral and airy, displaying photographs of the beach–water scenes that you can buy– is a nice way to go, though Stine says your art should be personal and exactly what you like. “And a hint of red as an accent is always appropriate in a beach house,” she added.
If the mountains and forests are your vacation playgrounds, “richer, darker colors, more textures, and animal themes are germane in a room redesign,” said Stine, who recently designed a getaway home for a couple in toney Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Favoring wrought iron furniture and light fixtures for this purpose, the designer said in making over your own space it’s great if you can invest in a couple of pieces. But if you can’t, go for darker woods and flooring (stains can help here). A colorful, textured afghan for the sofa or bed is a nice lodge kind of accent, with greens, reds, and earth tones the ones to consider.
Window treatments should be layered for a grand lodge ambience. “Go for a stained, 2-inch thick wood Venetian blind with a thick tape and a drapery side panel,” she said.
Restating her idea that art is very personal, one concept in this case is to have it really “speak to the mountains” if you’re so inclined, she said. Deeply-hued photographs or prints of nature can essentially act as windows to the outdoors. “And bear in mind that earth tones are good in mountain décor.”
Whichever course you take–the Rockies or Rehoboth Beach–creating your perfect vacation spot should be a fun project. And unlike a vacation getaway, this is one space you’ll never have to leave!