Decorating Lessons from the Shore

Decorating Lessons from the Shore

How to Bring Your Vacation Home With You

This summer I was lucky enough to spend three relaxing nights at the beach on the Jersey shore. If you’ve never been, let me explain that while the New Jersey coastline has beautiful beaches, many accommodations along the shore are from yesteryear – basic motels with kitchenettes that cater to families in wet bathing suits.

This time I was hoping for a more luxurious experience: white cotton sheets, fantastic mattress and an ultra clean and freshly-decorated environment. Not so easy to find at the shore.

The Icona Golden Inn in Avalon, NJ is a pleasantly surprising exception. Completely redone in 2016, it’s design is pretty as well as practical and there are many decorating ideas here to take home. Here’s what I learned:

Everything is Blue and White

Blue and white is a classic color scheme that never fails.

Icona Golden Inn Lobby

It is one of the most widely liked combinations- just google the number of decorating books on blue and white.  The designers were smart enough to choose something that would appeal to a most people, myself included, but the lessons are true for any color scheme.

Along with the blue and white, all the flooring in the hotel is the color of sand. That includes the limestone floors in the lobby and the carpeting in the hallways and guest rooms. It’s a great counterpoint to the blue and white and cleverly hides any sand potentially tracked in from the beach.

Choosing two or three main colors is a great way to add flow to your home. Before I studied color I would sometimes think I wasn’t giving it my all unless every room in the house was a different color. Not so. In general, colors should flow from room to room. Repeating accent colors with a different emphasis from one room to another will pull your home together.

Leather club chairs

See how they did that here? They put the blue in the carpet and a slightly darker tone of sandy beige color on the armchairs. A perfect example of how to maintain flow by using the same colors in different ways.

In another space below, the chair is blue, the walls are white and the floor is sandy beige. I love how the artwork and curtains work together to make a cohesive look.

Blue armchair nailheads


Creating a Moment

Clearly the lobby was dressed to impress, a good lesson for any space. Your entry is the first place to set an impression on what to expect in the rest of your home. It’s easy to make it shine. We can all use a table or chest in the entry to put down our keys and mail on, perhaps to hold a small lamp to add a pool of light to welcome us home or hold a vase with fresh flowers.

Console table styling

Even the smallest of corners can hold a slim console table with a piece of artwork or a mirror above to reflect light in what is often a dark space. A larger hall can hold a bigger table or a chest that can add storage for gloves and hats. My front hall chest holds a collection of flower vases.

Chest with blue and white

The vignettes on the console tables are lessons in symmetry and asymmetry. Both can work depending on the situation, and the key to making it look great is balance. A symmetrical arrangement can be considered classic, and it is definitely easier to accomplish. Just add two matching lamps and more pairs of other decorative items, with or without a center piece.

An asymmetrical arrangement will still have balancing pieces, but the components may not all be pairs. Try starting with at least one pair and keep rearranging until you find a pleasing  composition.

Chest with pair of urns

Above is the symmetrical setup they use to serve ice water to arriving guests. Exchange the water jug and cups for a large tray  to catch your mail and this could easily work in your front hall. The colorful artwork by a local artist adds a welcoming touch.


How to Use Performance Fabrics

Tufted Headboard Faux Leather

The guest rooms in this hotel do not disappoint. They make spectacular use of one fabric in particular, a white faux leather. This fabric is light-years away from the embossed vinyl we remember from previous generations. It truly has the feel of leather, not sticky but still easy to clean, and the expanses of white are so refreshing.

Using it tufted on the guest room headboards lets you forget that it’s a workhorse material.  It’s a great solution on the stylish side chairs too, and those nail-heads make you want to take them home with you! You may have noticed the white faux leather in the lobby too, on the modern wing back chairs and the ottomans, and on the banquettes in the Shimmers Bistro.


Tufted chairsThis can work great at home, say on a kitchen banquette. For your bedroom, dining room or living room, you might prefer a performance fabric, usually made from polyester or even linen or cotton fabric treated in a fabric repellent such as Crypton™.  You can use these in areas that get a lot of abuse, such as dining room chairs. And you are now able to have a white or cream sofa in the living room without setting up a velvet rope at the doorway.

What a great idea to use a stunning rafia style textured fabric on the outside frame of this sofa (below,) and adding a washable white cotton slipcover to the seat and back cushions. My bet is they have multiple slipcovers for this sofa and change them regularly so it always looks fresh. For home use, one set is probably enough – just toss them in the wash and put them right back on.

slipcovered sofa cushions

Loving this unusual rug here and the blue and white pillows everywhere reinforce the theme throughout the hotel. Have you brought home ideas from a favorite hotel you visited? Please share them below in the comments, and happy redecorating!

(4) Comments

  1. Allyson, you new website is fantastic and you look gorgeous! Congratulations on everything!

  2. Great recon on finding a nice hotel and awesome take aways for design. I love everything except the two tone sofa – like the concept, not the execution.
    Nice work, girlfriend!

  3. Thanks, Jeri, I appreciate your comments. And I don’t disagree about the sofas, but I must say they did look better in person. Perhaps it was the beachy atmosphere?

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