Though the great room is unified in pale hues, there's no lack of eye-catchers. Over the walnut dining table, a striking compass chandelier holds court. A high-back wing chair is "positively voluptuous," McLean, Virginia, designer Jim Hawes says. And a painting over the fireplace brings horizontal fields of color to the board-and-batten walls.
Despite its strong horizontals, this David Bell painting, commissioned to crown the mantel, is nearly square in shape. Coral dyed the same earthy red found in the painting fills a simple glass cylinder. "You want to have something surprising or humorous in a room," designer Jim Hawes says. "I call it the 'aha!' moment."
An antique Swedish glass-front pine cabinet deliberately breaks the scheme of dark woods that anchors this light room. The doors' harlequin pattern of glass and wood mimics the pattern on the sisal rug. "Symmetry is overrated," Hawes says of the room's furniture arrangement. "I'm more interested in achieving a sense of balance."
To complement the striking compass chandelier, brass compass-rose plaques on the dining chair backs link echoing semicircles. Easily bleached slipcovers protect the chair seats. "After all, people eat crabs here," Hawes says of the Chesapeake Bay residence.
The most significant color notes in the home come from evocative paintings. Hyacinth sails on a Chesapeake-style model sloop pick up the rich colors of this painting.
In the small master bedroom, the owners wanted a West Indian-style four-poster. To keep it from visually "eating the room alive," Hawes dressed it with a white matelasse coverlet and gauzy fabric panels.
To keep a serene color palette from getting boring, Hawes suggests kicking it up a notch by varying wood tones, injecting objects for visual interest, choosing shapely furniture, and mixing prints and solids. Hawes chose dramatic prints for pillows and sheets, then tossed in coordinating pillows in sold, cheerful colors to spice up pale hues in the master bedroom.
The sunny guest bedroom boasts the best views in the house. Given its panorama, the room is kept calm with an old Swedish painted chest and bench, a Victorian nursing chair in a soft pattern and a faux straw-upholstered headboard. Floor-to-ceiling linen curtains tame the light.
Two styles of rattan and wicker furniture -- one sophisticated, one classic -- save the long, rectangular sunporch from uniformity. Hawes loves the airy curves of the coffee tables, which were inexpensive finds from a local store.
Life on the shore can be tough on floors. The sun, sand, and surf can do damage when they come inside. Hawes says sturdy flooring choices, such as slate, tile, or concrete, will stand up to sandy traffic in exterior rooms and entry spaces such as this sunroom.
Despite this home's breathtaking views, guests step into the entry and confront a solid wall. Hawes wanted to make the awkward space intriguing by crafting an eye-catching still life that says, "Welcome to the Shore." He began with an old, sugar maple-topped Swedish pedestal table. An antique French double window -- elegant in shape and venerable in its original worn finish -- makes a virtue of the foyer's height. A huge South Seas clamshell is a conversation piece. "The entry is a bit of a tease before the impact of the view," Hawes says.
Designer Jim Hawes of McLean, Virginia's, design firm Caldwell-Bebe, is known for his love of neutral color schemes peppered with colorful artwork. "I don't believe in heavy-handed decorating," he says.