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Beach House Chic: 10 Inspired Nautical Notes

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Beach House Chic: 10 Inspired Nautical Notes

January 17, 2018

As a native Cape Codder, I’m all too aware of the fine line between beach chic and coastal cliché. (That’s why I live in fear of shell-frame mirrors and driftwood “Life’s a Beach” signs.) But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a well-placed nautical accent or two. In my view, the key to subtle seaside style involves two rules: Exercise restraint and think outside the (sand) box.

1. Caged Industrial Lamps

Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes  With the aid of architect John Allee and designer Hannah Childs, our friend Charlotte Tracy enhanced the coastal feel of her Connecticut cottage with white paneling and industrial caged lamps. See more of her nautical notes in Before & After: A Summer Cottage Reborn on the Connecticut Coast. Photograph by Elizabeth Watsky.
Above: With the aid of architect John Allee and designer Hannah Childs, our friend Charlotte Tracy enhanced the coastal feel of her Connecticut cottage with white paneling and industrial caged lamps. See more of her nautical notes in Before & After: A Summer Cottage Reborn on the Connecticut Coast. Photograph by Elizabeth Watsky.

Reminiscent of bulkhead and other industrial lighting frequently used on boats and around shipyards, caged lamps are a subtle way to add a nautical note.

2. Portholes

Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes In designer Tom Scheerer&#8\2\17;s Harbour Island cottages in the Bahamas, a vintage porthole, repurposed as a mirror, anchors an entryway. See the full tour at Island Life: At Home with Tom Scheerer. Photograph by Francesco Lagnese, courtesy of the Vendome Press.
Above: In designer Tom Scheerer’s Harbour Island cottages in the Bahamas, a vintage porthole, repurposed as a mirror, anchors an entryway. See the full tour at Island Life: At Home with Tom Scheerer. Photograph by Francesco Lagnese, courtesy of the Vendome Press.
Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes In my own Cape Cod cottage, I created a minimal mantel display by pairing a single vintage porthole with a bleached caribou antler that my stepfather found in Alaska. See more at The Soulful Side of Old Cape Cod: Justine’s Family Cottage.
Above: In my own Cape Cod cottage, I created a minimal mantel display by pairing a single vintage porthole with a bleached caribou antler that my stepfather found in Alaska. See more at The Soulful Side of Old Cape Cod: Justine’s Family Cottage.

3. Seaweed Wallpaper

Above: Former World of Interiors editor Min Hogg offers an entire collection of whimsical seaweed wallpapers and fabrics. See Underwater Chic: Seaweed-Printed Fabrics & Wallpapers.

For a more formal approach to nautical style, or just to change things up a bit, try seaweed print wallpapers and fabrics. Min Hogg and Tradescant & Son are among our favorites.

4. Fish Skeletons

Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes Designer John Derian adorned the walls of his Provincetown bathroom with a vintage sawfish snout, among other ephemera. See Bathroom of the Week: John Derian’s Homage to Old Cape Cod. Photograph by Matthew Williams.
Above: Designer John Derian adorned the walls of his Provincetown bathroom with a vintage sawfish snout, among other ephemera. See Bathroom of the Week: John Derian’s Homage to Old Cape Cod. Photograph by Matthew Williams.

Delicate yet slightly sinister, fish skeletons are some of Mother’s Nature’s most exquisite sculptures. Look beyond the obligatory shark jaw for more unorthodox finds—but make sure you’re not buying anything endangered. Vintage shops can be a great source for unusual marine finds.

5. Dried Seaweed

Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes At Sir & Star in Olema, California, Margaret Gradé and Daniel DeLong draped the wall sconces in tendril forms of dried kelp. See more at A Restaurant that Channels “The Birds,” West Marin Style.
Above: At Sir & Star in Olema, California, Margaret Gradé and Daniel DeLong draped the wall sconces in tendril forms of dried kelp. See more at A Restaurant that Channels “The Birds,” West Marin Style.

Extremely pliable when wet, sinuous kelp dries into sturdy, sculptural forms.

Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes At Saltwater Oyster Depot in West Marin, artist Lina Jane Prairie fashioned baskets from kelp found on local beaches. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.
Above: At Saltwater Oyster Depot in West Marin, artist Lina Jane Prairie fashioned baskets from kelp found on local beaches. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

6. Creative Shells Collections

Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes Architect Sheila Bonnell created a one of a kind installation by layering razor clams on a living room shelf. Note also the paper sculpture that resembles a fish spine. See more in the Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home. Photograph by Matthew Williams.
Above: Architect Sheila Bonnell created a one-of-a-kind installation by layering razor clams on a living room shelf. Note also the paper sculpture that resembles a fish spine. See more in the Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home. Photograph by Matthew Williams.

7. Strings of Beach Finds

Speaking of creative ways to display your beach finds: String them together. Strands of driftwood or shells become art in and of themselves (with special masonry drill bits, you can also string beach stones).

Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes A small DIY mobile of shells, driftwood, and objects from the sea becomes a natural sculptural element in this quiet flat in France. See Inspired by the Sea: At Home with an Artist in France.
Above: A small DIY mobile of shells, driftwood, and objects from the sea becomes a natural sculptural element in this quiet flat in France. See Inspired by the Sea: At Home with an Artist in France.
Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes A strand of stones adorns a table of other sculptural elements at Mr. & Mrs. Charlie shop. See Vagabond Chic: Instagram Stars Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Launch a Shop.
Above: A strand of stones adorns a table of other sculptural elements at Mr. & Mrs. Charlie shop. See Vagabond Chic: Instagram Stars Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Launch a Shop.

8. Unframed Maps

Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes Vintage maps form an instant headboard at Hello I&#8\2\17;m Local, a Dutch hostel in Haarlem. See A Quirky Hotel in the Netherlands with Dozens of Design Ideas to Steal.
Above: Vintage maps form an instant headboard at Hello I’m Local, a Dutch hostel in Haarlem. See A Quirky Hotel in the Netherlands with Dozens of Design Ideas to Steal.

Maps always conjure a nautical vibe. But sometimes, when you frame utilitarian objects like these, they look too formal or precious. I prefer a more informal treatment, tacked directly onto the wall.

9. Nautical Stripes

Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes Another inspired nautical moment in Charlotte Tracy&#8\2\17;s home: Striped stairs enhance the coastal feel of her Connecticut cottage (we highlighted its white paneling and industrial caged lamps above). See Remodeling \10\1: Nautical Stripes on the Stairs. Photograph by Elizabeth Watsky.
Above: Another inspired nautical moment in Charlotte Tracy’s home: Striped stairs enhance the coastal feel of her Connecticut cottage (we highlighted its white paneling and industrial caged lamps above). See Remodeling 101: Nautical Stripes on the Stairs. Photograph by Elizabeth Watsky.
Beach House Chic 10 Inspired Nautical Notes A row of framed dried seaweed at Kadeau Restaurant in Copenhagen.
Above: A row of framed dried seaweed at Kadeau Restaurant in Copenhagen.

More nautical details:

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on June 5, 2017.

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