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Holiday Gift Guide

Go Nautical without Going Overboard

2012 May 9

With the weather warming up, decorating a space in a nautical theme is a popular idea, and not just along the East Coast. And while not all of us can have beach-front property, creating a nautical-themed retreat is a great way of adding the cooling, relaxing effect of the ocean without needing to be anywhere near the water. It can be tricky finding the balance between soothing seaside decor and going overboard with the ocean theme, however, so here are a few tips on how to keep the idea simple and classy.

Stick to Clean, Cool Blocks of Color

Use colors found in the ocean sky, on the beach and in native tundra for inspiration. Blues, whites, browns and grays provide a relaxing, fresh appearance for a living room or lounge area. Throw in a splash of red or orange to break up any monotony that might try to creep in. By sticking to blocks of color and staying away from too many patterns, a room remains calm and avoids becoming chaotic and distracting.

Use Stripes in Small Numbers

By tossing a few striped pillows, like those from the Draper Stripe DwellStudio collection, on the couch or using a striped throw or rug, you can suggest a nautical feel without overwhelming a room. Remember, a few stripes go a long way to suggest a theme. It’s best to use them sparingly and tie in the overall look with a determined color palette.

Here’s a room designed by Victoria Hagan in which a single floor mat provides traditional stripes while throw pillows and furnishings remain simple and understated. Photo by Michael Mundy, for Elle Decor.

Natural Sunlight is Best

But once the sun sets, additional lighting may be necessary. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the theme and attempt to make every lighting fixture an obviously nautical piece, but it’s also possible (and often more interesting) to use modern lighting fixtures instead. Take this modern nautical living room, for example. Designed by Rebecca Ascher with Joshua Davis, the room is mostly lit by the afternoon sun, but at night the Santa & Cole Tripode G5 Floor Lamp in Natural and the Wastberg Studioilse w084 Table Lamp (back left) are able to complement the subtle nautical theme with their natural colors while providing the illumination this space needs. Photo by Roger Davies, for Elle Decor.

You can shop Nautical lighting and decor at Lumens.com.

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