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At the beach, it's all about being relaxed and spending time with your friends and family. Your home and outdoors should exude that same casual nature with simple materials and elements that reflect the surroundings.
"When I envision a beach, I see soft shades of sandy beige, bright whites, a myriad of blue-greens accompanied by the textures of shimmering pebbles, beach roses, driftwood, and breaking waves," says Chantal Lawrence, a licensed interior designer and owner of Total Design Source in Old Saybrook. "For me, this image translates into wicker, rattan, sea glass, rustic woods, sisal rugs, cotton duck fabric, batik patterns, and shoreline prints."
If you're trying to create a timeless style, Lawrence suggests sticking to crisp white or neutral upholstered furnishings with neutral rugs accented by colors drawn from your favorite piece of art or textile.
"The furnishings should be casual and comfortable," she says. "Stay clear of the sloppy slipcover look or you'll always be feeling your home looks disheveled. Have one or two side chairs with arms that are light weight and easy to move around the room so older people have a chair they can push up and out of on their own. And have something whimsical to bring a little levity and help reinforce the casual vibe."
"When it comes to dining in the summer, you may want to consider a table that accommodates a myriad of set ups," Lawrence notes. "Our best seller is The Essex by Kingsley Bate at 122 inches long. The two half-moons on the ends set up as an independent 46-inch round and the rectangular table becomes an 8-seater at 76 inches long. Order now so you'll have it by the summer. Otherwise, it's a long wait."
"Get your backdoor or mudroom organized for the summer by rolling up beach towels and leaving them in a basket or container by the door," Lawrence suggests. "Have another container ready to catch flipflops and water shoes. Plenty of hooks on the wall for summer hats, wind breakers, and beach bags are also a plus. And don't forget to create a caddy with plenty of sunblock! If you're lucky enough to have an outdoor shower, make sure you have a caddy with eco-friendly soaps, shampoos, and conditioners."
Lawrence says it "only" took her 20 years on the shoreline to realize when the breeze dies, the bugs come out. For that, she recommends an oscillating fan.
"If there is a breeze, you'll never be bothered again," she says happily. "Also, rustic lanterns with glass sleeves to inhibit the wind from dousing the flame are a must-have for late evenings. There is nothing as enchanting as a flickering flame on a warm summer eve."
"Finish off a beach theme with a fabulous print or a well-placed accessory," says Lawrence. "No need to overdo it—be simple and tasteful. For just one design element to make a statement, investing a little money is worth it. Now you're ready to sit back and enjoy the summer!"
This story and photographs were provided by Chantal Lawrence of Total Design Source, located at 180 Main Street, Old Saybrook. For more information, call 860-388-0019 or visit www.tdesignsource.com.
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The annual guide to the CT River Valley has arrived.