Get the Look: Nautical Decor
A Hint of Glint
A dose of metallic objects -- mostly zinc and silver in this scene -- impart sophistication to any room. They also mimic the sparkle on the water and the gleam of metal parts on ships catching the sunlight. Every nautical-inspired space should wink with a bit of metal.
No fewer than three shades of green, three variations of blue, and six different whites wash this cottage in dreamy, seaside color. Piling on so many hues -- each distinctive from the next but all within the same family -- has the same effect on these rooms as the sun does on the sea: The water's hue shifts as the light does, turning the sea into an ever-changing shimmer.
All Over the Map
Maps make for lovely introductions in a home: They immediately provide a sense of place, and they inject easy-to-live-with colors -- sea blue, mossy green, and warm sand -- to a room. Here, a map stands in as wallpaper on a cocktail table. Adhered with glue and topped with a sheet of glass, the map is a permanent and protected piece of artwork that also makes a charming background for tabletop accessories, such as a chunk of coral and blue-painted box.
Printing a beachfront portrait of a little one on a stretched canvas (available at crafts stores in myriad sizes) is inexpensive, easy decoration for the walls. But wrapping it with a velvet ribbon the color of wet sand and suspending it from a slice of seashell -- well, that elevates the whole snapshot into art.
How to Photo Transfer
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Before the Beach
Even the most practical beach gear -- brightly colored towels, sun-shunning hats, and long-handled totes -- blossom into decoration when gathered into a sunny spot. Old-timey children's bathing suits, carefully preserved in shadow boxes and hung nearby, lend a little history to the display.
Light fixtures are an eye-catching way to work nautical elements into a room. Here, oyster shells drape from an iron chandelier -- but the options are nearly endless. Scout for lights that incorporate shells, rope, beach glass, driftwood, or other beachy baubles.
A bit of seafaring wisdom sums up the work hard, play hard mantra of the sea. Revved in red and clustered near seashells and sand dollars, this framed print can't help but catch attention (and a few chuckles).
A tight spiral of cotton rope spins into a super-rugged rug well-suited to damp locations (like this bathroom). The rope rug, like the boats that inspired it, manages to be both playful and hardy -- no small feat.
Subtlety Toward the Sea
Nautical signals can be understated but still charming. In this room, two glass canisters filled with seashells wink from atop the wardrobe, while a footboard of undulating waves and board-and-batten wall paneling (a longtime standard in New England for exterior facades) quietly and steadfastly nod to the sea.
Oceanside touches play nicely with just about any decor; they're especially skilled at simultaneously warming up and chillin' out a whole scheme. Note how cozy and relaxed this bedroom is, where a weathered dresser supports a character-rich cast of collectibles: a driftwood-colored tchotchke, framed beach scene, and shell-shaped lamp.
On the Half Shell
Giant clamshells -- whether real or cast in resin or ceramic -- are darling containers for items both sea-worthy and land-loving. Pile one with keys and sunglasses by the front door for a super sensible catchall, or tuck a host of tiny succulents inside for a vibrant coffee-table display.
Bright, clear colors (such as the turquoise blue, tangy orange, and coral pink on this porch) bring up thoughts of the beach and all of its hot-hued accessories: towels, umbrellas, sandals, swimsuits, and hats. Keep these colors from overheating by giving white most of the real estate.
Worn to Perfection
Beachy accessories automatically give a room a laid-back rough-and-tumble look. That's why a coffee table washed in ocean-blue paint, chipped and scraped as though weathered by the wind, is the ideal host for a few sea-inspired items on its surface: coasters from various shoreline cities, a shell-festooned dish, and a glass bowl brimming with shells.
Items collected from the sea, such as the rusty anchor and sand-scoured glass bottles on the mantel, sport a patina that can't come from anywhere else. They impart rich character and a sense of both age and adventure to any room.
Fit to Be Tied
A metal cleat hitch normally functions as a secure spot for fastening a rope on the deck of a boat. It serves the same purpose here, except for a rope threaded through the grommets of a window curtain as decoration -- a clever nod to all things nautical.
A certain color scheme can set a beachy mood in an instant: the blue of sea and sky set alongside sandy tan and woody brown almost always conjures thoughts of the shore. Rope accents on the mirror and starfish stamped on the shower curtain reinforce the salt-air theme.