With summer finally here and holidays looming, interior designer Jamie Hempsall, looks at creating a vacation feel in your home
There is nothing so appealing as the seaside on a sunny day. This can be the perfect theme for a haven in your home from the rigours of everyday life, allowing you to indulge in a little mental time travel back to the sun-kissed shores of your summer escape.
A nautical theme works wonderfully in a bedroom (be it a children’s fantasy space or an uplifting guest room) and also a bathroom, given the obvious water connotations.
The key is sticking to a simple colour palette (primarily blue with ivory or white and a touch of red) and hinting at your subject with subtle influences, rather than creating a Theme Park style space.
Keep in your mind clean, fresh and a little weathered and you cannot go too wrong.
Do not be afraid to embrace blue. There is a myth that blue is cold, but it depends entirely on the shade you choose. Be bold in your approach and opt for strong blues that evoke memories of the British shoreline – avoid anything pale or insipid.
Start by choosing your fabric and then match wall paint or paper to this, picking up hints of the tone in soft furnishings and key pieces. Do not feel that you have to match blue slavishly throughout your room; part of the joy of the sea is that it holds a myriad of tints and your space can do the same. Throw in the odd marine green to break up the feel a little or splashes of red for a true nautical flag influence.
If you are looking for a good base for a seaside theme, then a number of the fabric and wallpaper collections that William Yeoward has designed for Designer’s Guild certainly fit the bill – especially St Ives, Astasia and Polperro.
You should also consider the lovely new Coast range from Prestigious Textiles that features some lovely pictorial prints and a great set of weaves referencing traditional cotton checks. The range includes an unexpected treat in the shape of an embroidery called Coral Reef which is amazing value at £39.99 for a meter.
Keep furniture light and soft, so your space feels like it has been populated by pieces that have been sun-bleached or sand-blasted over time. Distressed white or ivory painted furniture is ideal and a great way to rejuvenate some of those beautiful old pieces that may now be a little out of fashion. If you have the budget, look out for limed wood, which will add a soft luxurious feel to your scheme.
Ideally, also ensure floors are light, but hard: lime wash or painted boards are perfect (and can help reinvigorate uninteresting or damaged floorboards). Failing that, a textured vinyl flooring, such as Karndean Van Gogh, will work well; it is not cold to the touch and yet can give you they physical sensation of wood when you step on it. You can then ensure winter warmth with the addition of some soft scatter rugs.
People often make a mistake by using novelty lighting to dress a “seaside” escapist room; this lends a cartoonish quality to the scheme. For a more sophisticated result use some of the modern Industrial style or porthole effect lighting to create the type of authentic scheme that sits well in a family home.
Mix up the textures in the room, using weaves, prints and plain knits to give a full 3D effect to your scheme; think canvas sails mixed up with fisherman’s jumpers in a pile on the harbour side. The addition of some hemp rope in the form of tie-backs or curtain detailing will also add character to the melange.
Finally, create “recognition points” by dotting a few scavenged holiday treasures, such as bits of cleaned up driftwood or interesting seashells, throughout your scheme to create the ideal memory jogger to last you until next summer.
Jamie Hempsall is a multi-award winning interior designer.