I love bringing the outside in and am always collecting little natural things on walks and holidays to dot around our home. Lichen, sticks, dried flowers and interesting foliage all make their way here to sit in jars and pots. Having lived my life as far away from the sea as you can pretty much get, the coast has always had a romantic, windswept allure to me.
Consequently, most of my favourite natural scavengings have come from the sea: driftwood, shells, but most of all, pebbles. I have a real thing for pebbles. I look for interesting colours, a beautiful smooth surface to rub my thumb against, and a shape that tells its story from the sea to me.
So when I found the Pebble cushion by Happy + Co*, I pretty much imploded with how perfect it was for our coastal living room. Inspired by this piece, I thought I’d share some of my tips for introducing a coastal vibe to your home.
What do you love about the sea?
First things first, it’s a good idea to decide the look and feel you want for your room, as the coast has different memories and associations for everyone. What is it that you want to capture about the coast and distil into your home? Maybe you love the kitsch-ness of postcards and sticks of rock, the pastels of beach huts, or the warmth and serenity of sand between your toes.
For me, I love the wild, ruggedness of the coast, its changeability, its turmoil. I much prefer the seaside in winter when it’s at its most dramatic, and also because I’m far more comfortable trudging along in a coat and wellies than I am lounging in a bikini. So for me, it was the rugged and natural wildness I wanted to capture, tempered with the lovely grey quietness you get after a storm.
Once you’ve pinpointed what is it you love, you can begin to look at ways to introduce it into your home.
I love having art around the house, and this is definitely the easiest way to introduce a seaside-y vibe. It’s an instant fix, and one you can add to or refresh with the seasons. The sea has been an evocative subject for generations, so it’s very easy to find affordable artwork to fit your theme. Maybe it’s a vintage travel poster or print, some old postcards in photo frames, a calm pastel watercolour or even just a favourite photograph printed and framed. Whatever the sea means to you you’ll find artwork to fit it.
One of my most favourite things is my painting by Peter Hodson, an artist who creates beautiful seascapes at prices that make them ‘available for the enjoyment of others’ (mine was £35). I love the texture and otherworldliness of it, and it is the perfect starting point for my coastal room.
Once you have a focal piece of artwork you can build your accessories around it. Our walls are a grey/blue colour anyway, so it was easy to introduce cool blues through blankets and pots to tie the theme together. If you are going for more of a kitsch feel you can use stripey patterns and pastel hues that go with your walls.
That’s why I chose the Happy + Co cushion, because it fits perfectly with my theme. It is subtly natural rather than overtly nautical, and is abstract enough to blend perfectly with my impressionistic painting and complement the cooler feeling I’m going for. Rather than being just one plain colour it has tonal greys which change in the light, just like a real pebbly beach.
Tactility is another big part of creating the rugged coastal look, as texture to me evokes the foaming sea, the crunching pebbles, the prickly, wavy grasses and the craggy undulation of the cliffs. When I’m at the beach I’m constantly picking things up, stroking smooth pebbles, sinking my toes into sand and running my hands across wind-weathered structures.
It sadly doesn’t come across so much in pictures, but this cushion is one of the most tactile things I own. Each individual ‘pebble’ has its own colour and texture – some are flannelly, others a very close cotton, more are an open knit. Running my hand across the surface (as I couldn’t stop doing when taking these photos!), I got that same sensation as when I put my hands in my pockets on a beach walk and turn the pebbles I’ve collected over and over in my fingers. Only, you know, more soft and squidgy.
The finishing touches to my coastal theme are the natural elements I’ve brought in from the wild. Look for sculptural pieces of driftwood to act as key features – I particularly like the thin piece that adds interest and contrast to the 1950s fireplace. I also have a thing for very smooth pieces of driftwood, so these have found their home grouped together in a vase (perfect when you haven’t got any flowers that week).
I also display my pebbles and shells. Larger ones are huddled together on shelves, while my smaller favourites I keep in a bowl on the coffee table, so I can be reminded of the sea every time I walk past.
Even if you’re not going for such a wild look, shells are quintessentially seaside-y and will fit with almost any theme. Arrange them neatly in a box frame for a cleaner look or use them to customise storage boxes or photo frames.
Whatever look you decide upon, needing shells and driftwood to use in your scheme is an excellent excuse to go to the seaside (you’re welcome). But if you can’t make it there soon, accessories and furnishings like the Pebble cushion are definitely a great way to bring a beachcombing vibe into the room until you can go and get some for real.
What do you think of when you think of the coast? Do you have seaside-y treasures in your home?
*This post happened because it was sponsored by Happy + Co – although of course, the words are all mine and from the heart. Happy + Co design products to be noticed, loved and make a happy home, but more importantly work ethically with their suppliers and give 10% of their profits to their Happy Farm in Cambodia, which provides jobs for local people. That’s why I love them, and I hope you will too 🙂