Life's a Beach – A Shore Theme in your Outdoor Space

Twentieth century American architect Phillip Johnson once said, "I hate vacations. Mr. Johnson evidently did not how to relax, but as another summer is slipping away, you can. Did you visit the beach this year? Do you wish you had? Either way, you can create a seaside feel in your outdoor space and enjoy memories of the shore at home! Here are some quick tips.

Your choice of color will be the largest stress-reliever in your home "beach." The relaxing hues of the beach are sun-bleached and sand- and water-washed. Think cool and inviting water, lapping on the shore; the pale sand underfoot; the tall pale green beach grasses; the pale pink and coral of shells; the white clouds in a the blue sky.

For your blue, try Kelly Moore's Essence of the Sea or Sail Away, Beauti-tone's French Blue, or Benjamin Moore's Robin's Egg.

If you prefer brighter colors use bright pink or orange, especially in striped fabric or small accessories such candles.

The beach calls for casual wooden seating. Try folding wooden chairs with colorful striped canvas slings, set under a pale colored canvas umbrella that you've propped in a large bucket of sand.

What do you take to the beach? Canvas tote bags, terry towels and flip-flops. Use these fabrics for cushions, throws and the seating itself. Install decorative hooks on a wall, and hang beach towels as "art."

Many beach goers return home with a collection of shells, beach rocks and smooth bits of colored glass. If you have such a collection, use them to good effect in your outdoor space. Clean up your treasures by running them through a cycle of the dishwasher in the utensil basket. You can also rub baby oil into rocks to bring out the shine that you saw under the beach sun.

The most obvious way to display your shells and pebbles is in a clear glass dish or jar, or a flat plate. Try filling a saucer with them and inserting a votive candle. Or if the shells themselves are large enough, pour candle wax around a wick in the shell cavity itself. Shells can be used in attractive tic-tac-toe games, for stamping fabrics and many other purposes.

You can easily change the feel of your beach theme by the use of different motifs. Perch a sea-gull on a piece of driftwood draped with a piece of fisherman's net and use a lighthouse or two elsewhere in the space, and you'll be reminded of a coastal fishing village. Folding sling chairs, an umbrella and pots of beach grass give a recreational feel to your space. Or combine the lighthouses with sailboat silhouettes for a more urban shore look.

Whatever kind of shore you prefer, use these ideas to recreate it at home. Put on a recording of ocean waves lapping on the sand, kick off your shoes and enjoy the beach!