Awash in Style

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By Diane Haynes Woodburn

silver shellsOur economy may be a bit unsteady, but in the world of interior design, luxury is in. So how does one create the look of luxury with a lot less green? “That’s easy,” says Jean Millsaps, ASID, of Mind’s Eye Interiors. “When you live on an island, there is nothing more luxurious than the beach-house look — freshened up to a modern chic.” And you can do it with just a few new touches of color, texture, and an unexpected element of fun.

“It’s great that this trend is back,” Jean says. “The coastal-living look is so appropriate for the islands.” It’s versatile, too. For example, dress British Colonial furnishings in modern colors and bold patterns; for a less formal look, try a whitewashed oak and driftwood finish.

Don’t live on the beach? No problem. Interior design is about having fun while keeping it functional. Any room can become coastal chic with a few island elements and tropical color. For that touch of luxury, go metallic.

“Metallic is really popular now,” Jean explains. “You can update natural colors with metallic accents in organic shapes such as starfish, shells, and sea urchins.” By adding these affordable treasures, your room will sparkle with new personality. “It’s all about mixing it up,” Jean adds. You don’t have to buy a lot of new furniture — dress up your room with a few smart changes.

How to start? Pick your theme and run with it. If you like the look of seashells, incorporate them in three or more areas. Choose a lamp in the shape of a sea urchin; arrange a group of large shells and faux coral on the coffee table; place a smaller shell collection on a side table. Or add a throw pillow with a shell picture, pattern, or even a shell toggle. “Bigger is better,” Jean advises. Don’t be afraid to use that gorgeous giant conch as a centerpiece, and accent with smaller metallic shells to modernize. To keep it interesting, vary the theme with different sizes and textures.

The rule of three applies to color. Find one you love in your artwork, or in the pattern of your sofa — and bring it out in three or more places. Introduce bright accents in throw pillows, flower arrangements, even photo frames. You will be surprised at how many great colors are hidden in the patterns you already have. Don’t be shy. Bold accents will update your room instantly.

To avoid a cluttered look, remove things that don’t match your theme or color choices. If there’s something you love, make it work by finding a repeatable pattern or color in it and carrying that throughout the room.

A single new piece of furniture can be an easy way to achieve the look you want. For example, choose an accent chair in a traditional style, upholstered in bold patterns. Ask your sales person (who may also be a decorator) to help you find a pattern that complements your other furnishings.

Mix it up with modern patterns, bright colors, and organic shapes — and your room will be fresh and new again.”

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