Themed Decor Should Be Implicit, Not Explicit

James Walpole/ April 28, 2020

Dedicated beach vacation houses tend to be some of the gaudiest in the world of interior decoration. Some are worse than others. Some have countless cute beachy sayings on countless towels, pillows, wall hangings, refrigerator magnets. They might have endless collections of beachy shells and pastel colors too. All of this is to remind you in no uncertain terms that YOU ARE AT THE BEACH, ARE YOU RELAXED YET?

It’s very strange and very offputting. The beach itself is beautiful. The water is fine. But the house feels like it’s trying too hard, and in its attempts at relaxed beach cheerfulness it becomes a monster .

What many beach house decorators (read: middle-aged white women) don’t seem to understand is that good themed decor is more often subtle and implicit than loud and explicit.

If you want to create a good beach theme, you don’t do it by writing BEACH on everything or coating everything in sea shells. In fact, you’re probably better off not creating much of a theme at all. Take an evolutionary approach. Use the house to enjoy the beach, and see how you evolve the decor over time to meet your needs. Or take queues from other functional bits of beach houses:

Good: hammocks, screened porches, weathered wood furniture, etc.

Bad: “Life is Better at the Beach” hand towels, loudly colored furniture

Good: surfboard rack, trophy fish mounts, your family’s photos from beach days, a piece of driftwood cleverly crafted into a coffee table.

Bad: Someone else’s beach photos, annoying beachy novels in pastel book covers, painted sea shells

Get it? The good beach house (or any kind of house for that matter) doesn’t have to declare itself as such. It just does the right sort of thing quietly and provides a backdrop for the main attraction (spending time at the beach) rather than trying to be the main attraction itself.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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