The breeze tickles the branches of the live oaks and palms in yards dotting Bruce Drive on St. Simons Island. The ocean gently hums nearby.
The picturesque East Beach neighborhood embodies the relaxed-yet-sophisticated vibe of the island itself. Light exteriors and lush, tropical landscapes enhance the oak-lined vistas with glimpses inside of cozy, beach-themed interiors.
But creating a balanced seaside scheme indoors is not as simple as one may think. It requires a bit of pizzazz and creativity along with a dash of healthy restraint.
Just ask Lynn Davidson, the interior designer at Taylor House Interiors on St. Simons Island. She has helped coordinate countless creations for homeowners. Many of those, she says, have been a coastal scheme. “We do get a lot of people who want to do a beach theme or at least beach accents,” Davidson says.
One of the homes the full-service design firm has styled is located on Bruce Drive, just a seashell’s throw from the salt air and crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The family who owns the home approached Taylor House about helping them bring that coastal vibe inside; and for Davidson, that meant mixing light colors and effortless fabrics while sprinkling in elements with accent pieces.
“You want it to be beachy, but you don’t want to do too much. You can do a lot with the color scheme and the materials and then just accent with pillows and things like that,” she says.
The Bruce Drive home is a stellar example of this concept. Stepping into the two-story property, one is greeted by a light, bright space with thoughtful touches that underscore the motif.
“For this home, we wanted to do a neutral color palette with fun accessories,” Davidson explains as she gestures to the living area. To complement the natural tones of the wall color, the couches are covered with white slipcovers that keep things simple and practical. “That way, it’s light, but it’s also easy to clean when you come in from the beach and might have sand all over you. You can just take them off and clean them.”
That type of practicality is key when planning a true beach home that is meant to be both beautiful and useful. That, she says, should even extend to the four-legged members of the family. “Many people — whether they rent or own — want to bring their pets, too; so the slipcovers are good for that, too,” Davidson says.
Creating space that allows for easy living is the goal, and adorable accents add character and charm to the mix without taking up much real estate within the room. Davidson often turns her attention to textures and materials to blend design with functionality. For instance, at the Bruce Drive home, she used seagrass rugs, which are easy to clean, hardy enough to withstand sand tracked in, and mimic the woven materials of the Low Country.
Bringing in these natural fibers is an easy way to add a comfortable, breezy feel to a room. Rattan tables and floor lamp stands also add more texture to the room while still following the neutral color palette.
By using similar colors and textures, the furniture creates the perfect base, which allows some fun extras to spice up the space. In particular, Davidson chose vibrant pillows of multiple colors to liven the sitting area. Shorebirds fly across the fabric of some — another nod to the nature that thrives just outside the windows. Others are covered by feathery materials that press softly against any reclining guests.
Shades of teal can be spotted in several accessories strategically placed throughout the room, from the background of paintings to the koi centerpieces on the coffee table. “The homeowner really loved these parrot paintings,” Davidson says pointing to the wall. “That blue is just about the same as the blue in the pillows and the fish here ... or it’s close. They don’t have to match exactly ... they just have to be close.”
Those light extras can provide a unifying tone throughout the space without becoming overwhelming. In fact, keeping a crisp and uncluttered feel is key for Davidson’s designs. “You just don’t want too much. You never want it to feel too busy; so you should definitely avoid too many patterns or too much stuff in one space,” she says. “You can do a lot with pillows and wall art.”
In the kitchen, fish-shaped serving dishes are neatly stacked, and the theme continues in the upstairs bedroom. Like the rooms below, the master is also an example of how a crisp, neat space can become the foundation of décor.
“We did a duvet here in a neutral color; that, again, is very easy to clean. We also did fabric headboards that are all the rage right now,” Davidson says of the beveled wood and linen design.
The windows, accented only by plantation shutters, allow soft light to spill into the room, which adds to the airiness of the space. An understated beach pillow along with strategically placed shell picture frames dot the nightstands. “So we really didn’t do too much here, but it still has that beachy feel with the natural colors and the pretty light that comes in,” she says.
With the beach calling from just across the sand, the homeowners can now enjoy the salt life without much worry of it wreaking havoc when they come indoors. Textured furniture, natural light, and accent pieces work together in every room of the two-story house, blending function and beauty to create a coastal oasis.