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Ever go on a great vacation, visit an historic site or take a stroll through the woods and get a sudden burst of design inspiration? If money were no object, you’d race home, strip down the living room from light fixtures to flooring and start from scratch?

While living in Pennsylvania, I often traveled to the Delaware shore and the small tourist town of Lewes, which is steeped in maritime history and the location of Cape Henlopen, one of the most breathtaking stretches of seashore I know. After visiting museums, participating in historic home tours and volunteering for the Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation, I decided to completely transform my home – it would be my vision of a ship captain’s retreat, complete with nautical antiques and accents, crisp white slipcovered sofas, dark wood furnishings, framed maritime prints and even antique oars, which my husband sanded down, stained and suspended from the ceiling. So cool!

Clockwise from top: Ektorp sofa, ikea.com; Nantucket pillow, cottagesurroundings.com; canoe paddle, whiskeyjackpaddles.com; Brass Endurance 085 clock, weems-plath.com.

The look worked even after we relocated to the north shore of Long Island. We added on to our collection of beachy decor with photography from local artists, glass vases filled with seashells we collected while on beachcombing strolls, old lanterns and my sister’s own plein air oil paintings.

But now, several years and another move later, I am ready to make a change. Inspiration struck when I visited Scottsdale, Arizona, in June. I’ve always been a beach person, but this year, for some strange reason, I longed to go somewhere hot, dry and devoid of sea birds. I fell in love with the landscape, the architecture and even the furniture pairings I found out west. The overriding decor theme was one of modern yet cozy, spaces uncluttered save for a few natural elements that whispered (rather than shouted) “Southwestern.” I took in every detail and snapped several photos, hoping to come back home and recreate the looks I loved. The nautical stuff is now in storage and I am ready to hit the furniture stores.

How about you? Ready to make a style change? Tell me what’s inspiring you these days.


Clockwise from top: Upholstered chaise sofa sectional, potterybarn.com; Palmer ottoman; wshome.com; Bark Rim bowl; potterybarn.com; Palm Leaf pillow; poshliving.com.

4 Responses

  1. Tara says:

    It wasn't so much a place that inspired me to completely redo my bedroom, but rather a feeling I wanted. I was tired of the purple, flower, white wicker look I'd had since childhood. I wanted something rich, dark and grown up. Some people may think I'm crazy but I actually designed my whole room around a comforter I fell in love with. It has a burnt orange, green, tan and brown plaid pattern. Originally I was going to play it safe and paint the walls tan, but then I figured why not try something different. So, I decided on the burnt orange color for the walls, tan for the curtains and brown for the carpets. I chose dark cherry furniture which really enhanced the dark walls and 7 months later, I still think it came out beautifully.

  2. Scott says:

    Sometimes the best way to start a positive change in one's life is to break comfort zones and explore new options that challenge us. I use to live in a dark and stuffy apartment, which is now bright and airy. My mood has completely changed. Everybody needs a haven where they can hang their hat, kick back and relax. It's work to get there, but the rewards are great when it's finished. I hope you find your "dream" setup. Stay in touch..

  3. Carole says:

    I remember years ago designers telling you to find one "inspiration piece" to help you get started with your makeover. I always found my wall colors by looking at different pillows. After all the painting was done, it felt so good to place something brand new in the room. Then I'd just sit back and enjoy things for a while until I was inspired again and would start all over. The small home that I'm in now has been painted three different times in two years. I always say to myself that it's "just paint" and that it's an inexpensive way to spruce up your space.

  4. Linda in AZ says:

    I'm so thrilled you came to "our very special part of the world"~~~ the AZ desert~~~ and enjoyed it (even if it WAS "summer", which means "sizzling heat!"). In my humble opinion, the ONLY way to "decorate" a home, here, is to create an atmosphere with just a NOD to the idea of a warm, welcoming, elegantly southwestern style, all one's very own and befitting our desert surroundings. SO GLAD YOU ENJOYED IT! Blessings, Linda in AZ

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