Design Recipes: Warm up home with seaside inspiration

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service

Finally, the snow has thawed and it’s time for sun and warmth! Whether you live in a warm weather climate or beach environment part-time or year-round, vacation in a beachfront community or just dream, there are number of ways to incorporate beach decor into your home.

When it comes to beach or what I often consider “sea” or “nautical” decor, think simple, nonornamented pieces with natural elements.

Use white

My first tip is to incorporate white and whitewashed pieces into your decor as much as possible. There is simply nothing prettier than a piece that is rubbed or slightly distressed — especially when it comes to beach decor — and white pieces can be used in so many different ways for a fresh look. When it comes to using white, also think about incorporating white architectural elements such as beadboard wainscoting along walls.

Incorporate natural elements

One of my favorite design tricks when designing for a seaside or beach retreat is to use decorative elements such as rope. You can use rope in so many different ways — you can use small pieces of rope in place of traditional trim for pillows or sofas, or fill the inside of a tall cylinder jar by wrapping it around the interior until it fills up to the top. Additionally, you can use rope as a decorative wall hanging or create a pattern on a blank canvas to make an interesting art piece.

Found accessories

I find, especially when it comes to beach homes, there are always so many beautiful treasures just a footstep away. Often there is a desire to preserve these treasured mementos. The best way to do this is in beautiful shadow boxes that can be used as artwork throughout the home. Postcards, treasured photos and shells all work well with multi-dimensional items such as buttons, coins, souvenirs and mementos.

Think yellow!

So often, when it comes to beach decor, most people think you can only use blue (the color of water), but I really love using yellow. It not only reminds me of sunshine, but really serves to brighten beach decor and keep it cheery all year round.

The wonderful thing about yellow is that, like a great black dress, you can pair it with so many things. Match it with warm colors to create a space that is cozy and cheery, or cool it down using shades like chartreuse and pair it with gray or black. From accessories to decorative elements such as pottery to artwork and natural elements like woods and ropes, there are so many different ways to incorporate yellow into your decor!

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at