A Beach Cottage How To ~ chic Tablescaping Coastal

Mon 26th, Apr, 2010

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 Buffer 0 0 Flares ×


G’day girls, hope you enjoyed my interviews this weekend (if you missed them you can find them at the lovely Maria’s at Dreamy Whites and  with Colleen at Designingdna ~ thanks so much girls for having me!).

Now, one of the emails and questions I am often asked is how do I set up little vignettes in corners of the cottage….so I have been meaning to put pen to paper as it were to show you how it happens ’round here….though of course, I must re-iterate that I have no formal qualifications in the area of house style or for that matter tablescaping…I am more of a throw it all together and see what happens kinda gal rather than learn the formal stuff first and do it properly :-)

I love little corners in the cottage and I love foofing with displays here and there…I am addicted to them actually..quick to throw together…budget friendly…just simply a pleasing display of objects I like.

I think many people will lead you to believe that tablescaping is laden with design secrets not accessible to the rest of us, but truly, this is one of the easiest & most relaxing things to do, but however much I know this, it always surprises me.

The best thing is that you can utilize whatever you have on hand and should you, like me, have a thrift store/garage sale habit that you are trying desperately but failing miserably to break, then you will constantly have a stream of old vintage things with which to fulfill your insatiable appetite for foofing.


Obviously it will help if you have about your person some of the objects I list below..but really none is paramount..and you can take it from me this has absolutely nothing to do with expensive items or things of value, but more displaying things that make your heart smile as you walk past with an armful of laundry.

First of all in the gathering of your implements for this operation in Flea Market Coastal style, I would suggest but not limit the list to, chunky old pitchers, a sphere of some kind, a pile of vintage books or magazines, a bottle or tall vase, candles, a bunch or single stem of flowers, a pile of shells.

Now perhaps the golden rule in this game and one attested by many, is the odd number thing…grouping objects together in numbers of three, five, seven etc – this is apparently more pleasing to the eye than to do the same with an even number of objects.  And most of the time I find this to be true, but drop in the odd fallen flower, tea cup or scattering of shells here and there and you may well find that this act of design rebellion not only is vaguely liberating, in fact it adds an element of surprise and tops it all off nicely.  I think ultimately what works is not being tied to this or any rule…


To go with this oddness I suggest layering and leaning and not always both together though I use both interchangeably.  The layering I speak of is in terms of depth, you will want to create different ‘areas’….a foreground and background and something kinda in the middle

Next you will need height to add some dimension and this is where you will need to look at the proportions, I normally go for a taller, skinnier item (like the old vintage bottle) and then a chunkier, squatter item for the next height down and then centre the foreground object between them both…and there is nothing like a stack of books or magazines which I often use because I like the white spines with the lettering to elevate certain points in your display or raise an object that you want to use but is not quite the right size.

If you want a Beach Cottage style grouping you will of course need to keep most of the palette neutral, I don’t need to add that most of mine are white based, do I?  And in fact the all white grouping is I think one of the best ways to learn this skill because doing it that way you instantly grab the differences in proportion and dimension.

I love to add a pop of colour and life as juxtaposition to the white palette and this is ninety-nine per cent of the time in the form of a flower, I mainly simply plump for flowers that I like the look of, which more often or not means they are full and floppy and hues of pink or red…though you all know I often throw this colour thing out the window and add the flower in good old friendly Beach Cottage white!


It makes sense that if you are working with one main colour that you will need texture in your display…enter the elusive shell sphere ball that I find myself consistently moving around the cottage from week to day, perhaps day to day…

And last of all, though I haven’t used them in this one, don’t forget the stacking up and layering of vintage mirrors…you can start with these or having foofed for a while and ended up with something you love sometimes tucking an old scratched and faded mirror behind not only reflects your handiwork but bounces the light around beautifully and adds a new dimension to the whole scene.


That’s it then, too easy and I’d love to see some of your tabletop adventures ;-)

…stop by tomorrow cos I spent some time yesterday tablescaping and putting all this into practice on the deck table, I got my vintage bottles out and gathered a few flowers and spent some time foofing

…oh and um ya it’s time for a Beach Cottage GIVEAWAY tomorrow…don’t miss…

So long gals



0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 Buffer 0 0 Flares ×

0 Responses to “A Beach Cottage How To ~ chic Tablescaping Coastal”

  1. Debbie @ lakehouse says:

    Very simple…yet elegant! Love it Sarah!

  2. Are those Hybiscus?? The flowers are beautiful!
    Can’t wait to see tomorrows tablescapes. Summer is almost here and I can start setting my garden vignettes..YEAH!

  3. deb says:

    Thanks Sarah for the tips. Do you also use any lighting? I thinkd later when I finish in blogland I will have a play and do some foofing. Much more fun than ironing!

  4. dustjacket attic says:

    Oh such gorgeous photo’s…I loved your piece over at Dreamy White’s.
    xxx DJ

  5. Debra says:


    What was your England style? Was it cottagey or traditional ? Did you long for the coastal style or not even give it a thought until you were down under? Also what’s this book thing you are hinting at? By the way I just purchased a fabulous decorating book called The Comforts of home by Caroline Clifton-Mogg. It’s the best, lots of white in it.

  6. Delicious as always and beautiful, beautiful photos. You should seriously consider selling them, if you haven’t already :)

  7. Tiff says:

    The tablescape in these pics highlights just why white is so perfect. It looks calm, breezy and makes those hibiscus shine in all their natural beauty.
    Looking forward to tomorrow : )

  8. Quinn says:

    Beautiful, as always!

  9. Gaelle says:

    Awesome! And thanks for all that info!

    As usual, I’ll pop by tomorrow to see the table-bottle-flower make up.

    BTW, can we at the other side of the world also be game for the giveaway?


  10. It was lovely to discover your beautiful blog.
    Your Beach Cottage is wonderful and loved seeing your tabletop with the white and the lovely flowers.

    Happy week

  11. Alison Gibbs says:

    Gorgeous as always

  12. Lori says:

    I have been a follower for a while now, and I have learned alot about foofing from you! thanks!

  13. Jojo says:

    Wow – color! It really pops against the white. Happy week.

  14. Ruby Wand says:

    beautiful tablescape!

  15. Shelly says:

    You just simply rock!! I can not tell you how much I LOVE your decorating and STYLE. I read your blog every day. I have loved white my entire life and have always felt afraid to decorate all out with it becouse NO ONE I know does that. Thank you for your most beautiful blog.

  16. tracey says:

    Just gorgeous Sarah!!! You are so very talented!!! I truly love your beautiful blog!!!

    :) T

  17. Sarah W. says:

    I’m in LOVE with the third photo from the bottom, it almost looks like it was a painting….

    You explain this so well! Sometimes it’s hard to explain why or how we do things when they just come naturally, to others whom it doesn’t come naturally. Good job!

  18. picklefork3 says:

    nice and well explained – thanks


  19. Those flowers are stunning!

  20. Lovely! You captured the design elements we can all incorporate. This is addictive, in a good way.

  21. Cindy S says:

    Gorgeous images and thanks for the lesson. Hugs, Cindy S

  22. ilovemyhouse says:

    Oh this looks lovely. I did a post about bottles and flowers.

    Hope you like it too. Great blog. xx

  23. donna says:

    Beautiful photos and of course great advice! <3

  24. Alicia says:

    oooh I do love a nice tablescape thats for sure :0)

  25. This is beautiful! Thanks for the tutorial…it’s helpful for those of us who don’t know WHAT the heck we are doing but know the direction we want our home to take…I’m definitely going to be referring back to this!

  26. This is candy for my eyes .
    Delicious as always and beautiful colors .

  27. Pearl Maple says:

    Oh well said, sometimes it is easy to be fooled by the stylist’s workin glossy mags and we overlook the beauty of every day items that surround us, it is allabout taking the time to arrange them so they have a moment to shine.