Tips for Beach Cottage Shell Decorating Ideas ~ Flowers Go Nautical

Mon 10th, Oct, 2011

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G’day, I have been pottering with flowers and shells this morning, the sun is out and life is good… ….do you love seashell decorating…love going all coastal and nautical and beachy and displaying your seashells?..so do I!   20111010-02-beach-nautical-cottage-seashell-decorating
I just love collecting seashells, I think they are the quintessential beach souvenir…nature provided us with her own holiday talisman and oh so much better than bringing home a sombrero! 20111010-03-nautical-coastal-cottage-table
We spend a lot of time beachcombing, I don’t think there are many things in life better than walking along the seashore, wind in your hair looking for things to put in your pocket… 20111010-02-beach-nautical-cottage-seashell-decorating
…but sometimes, what to do with them? 20111010-04-nautical-bottles-
I love them displayed in water and of course along with that I just love them dotted around with a glut of bright and pretty fresh flowers… so this idea combines the two…a place to put your seashells stuffed in your pocket, after a trip to the beach and lovely flowers here’s what I started with   20111010-05-nautical-cottage-beach-
To get a coastal -y nautical  display going on is really simple, easy on the budget and works with pretty much any decor…for the BC Look add fresh flowers for a bit of colour… You will need an array of shells and things found on the beach…we found the cork, some sea glass and other pretties for our growing collection… Sometimes I add natural things, especially if it’s Autumn and the leaves are turning, I didn’t end up using those this time, but I know that for many of you who read this blog the leaves are turning and there are pumpkins around…just so easy for your fall coastal decorating to add in the odd pumpkin and cones among your shells… To decorate your home with displays and make it work the key is different sizes and shapes…and the answer to a stunning vignette is to keep the main focal point fairly large and imposing…even if you have a small home…one collection of small things in a large vessel equals impact…   20111010-06-beach-cottage-vase-shells-nautical
Though I am respectful of the traditional coastal/nautical decorating styles, obviously seeing as I have decorated this old cottage that way,  I’m not so keen on the in your face ‘beach’ theme whereupon every sailboat, pebble, oar, lighthouse, ‘beach this way’ sign is thrown together hopefully for the beachy look..an amalgam of a few of those together with your own style though I think works beautifully I like to add my BC twist to it…putting seashells and beach finds with vintage things and flowers…things that I have found treasure hunting around these beachside suburbs…things that say me and mean me To be frank, I don’t really think you can beat a seashell in your decorating, whatever.  

“One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach;

one can collect only a few,

and they are more beautiful if they are few”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh


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22 Responses to “Tips for Beach Cottage Shell Decorating Ideas ~ Flowers Go Nautical”

  1. Cas says:

    Hiya Sarah :) I agree, you can’t go wrong when you bring the outside in when decorating. As the weather warms up around here I’ve been feeling the urge to throw a few more shells around the house to beach it up a bit…trying to smash it together with a country-cottage-prarie-style thing and surprisingly it’s working quite well :) And yes, I absolutely cringe at the whole OTT nautical thing too! Hope you have a great week.
    Cas x

  2. alison says:

    I know what you mean about “Beach this way” look, lol.

    Still looking for some beach glass! I try to collect quite distinctive shells, rocks etc. I like to hold them and remember the good vibes and fun times when I found them.


    • rachael says:

      don’t know if you’re in the sydney area but i’ve found seaglass on coogee beach and i’ve heard there’s some in the manly area

  3. Neen says:

    My Nanna Mahoney always decorated with shells, driftwood, flowers, even little bits of green moss. She made her home so beautiful with ‘found’ things and things she had grown. Your post reminded me of visiting her home, such a lovely, loved place. Thankyou for the lovely memory. ;)

  4. the freckled minx says:

    Thanks for the Green Sauce Recipe Sarah – I tried it on the weekend and am in love……..B:)

  5. Rob says:

    Sarah, I love nothing better than to poke around on the beach, collecting shells, wandering around the rock pools…poking sea creatures…bum in the air…have been doing that since I was a kid, and hope to be doing it with my grandchildren (one day) when I’m 85!! Robx

  6. Alice says:

    “Though I am respectful of the traditional coastal/nautical decorating styles, obviously seeing as I have decorated this old cottage that way, I’m not so keen on the in your face ‘beach’ theme whereupon every sailboat, pebble, oar, lighthouse, ‘beach this way’ sign is thrown together hopefully for the beachy look..an amalgam of a few of those together with your own style though I think works beautifully”

    I could not have said it better myself Sarah :). I love what you do with the shells in the vase of flowers. I do it all the time so you can imagine my surprise when I saw your little dew drops in a gorgeous jar with a single shell in it! I had a good laugh, it seems I’m not so crazy after all (is what I said to my husband). I really love this arrangement Sarah, your best one yet (though I still love the one with the tiny shells in the big jar type vessels and cute little red flowers they were really cute).

    The whole nautical/ beach/sea theme suits us well considering our explorer ancestors lol…. You are so right about the beach signs… Unless you actually live with the beach at your doorstep they really don’t lead anywhere lol… and unless you are a fisher man there should really be no fishing nets (unless they are being used as hammocks or in very small doses to hold glass balls or the body of a glass lamp etc.ohh the fish too, unless they are actual beautiful scultures and works of art… Yeesh I could go on about this all night but I will stop now…Watching the number 1 ladys detective agency episode I missed… Have a good night Saraha nd thanks for the eye candy ;)

  7. Mary says:

    I love sea glass too – but I have heard that there is less of it nowadays because there are so many plastic bottles!!

    I still have some lovely little pieces too – it is very hard when I am at our little rocky beach across the road because we are in a reserve…. sometimes little bit of sea glass does make its way into my pocket….

    One of the coolest things I found on the beach were some little terracotta tealight holders (just before it became a reserve a couple of years ago) – whole but weathered – they were wonderful. There were about half a dozen whole ones. I like to imagine they came from an asian festival of lights ceremony – not quite sure how they made their way to NZ though….

  8. Just lovely. Full stop.

  9. Katherine says:

    So pretty!

    Sigh….wished I lived close to the sea – but alas! I get my fix from you ; )

    I just love to beachcomb, whenever an opportunity comes along!

    Katherine X (in the country side!)

  10. Pearl Maple says:

    nothing says beach house more than a collection of shells :)

  11. Kira says:

    I agree with you. I love walking on the beach. I am a fan of your pictures!

  12. Tammi says:

    I am definitely more drawn to your version of decorating in this way Sarah and likewise we love to beachcomb and always come home with our pockets laden with finds…though not too much in the way of shells so we need to explore more beaches here in the West.

    Loving these images :)


  13. christy zima says:

    Sarah – all of your vignettes and posts always make me smile. Have a beautiful day :)

  14. this is why i love coming back here Sarah- it’s not the magazine total look- it’s your look- it speaks to us in a way no contrived magazine can…

    your house is *who* you are….and your attitude embraces all the elements of your readers…the ones that come for the individuality- not the mass look of one *kind* of decor….

    so thanks, as usual…for the continued inspiration…

    Melissa x

  15. Beautiful I love seeing the shells with the flowers. Makes me wish I was back living in Hawaii by the water.

  16. lucy says:

    very pretty post today! thank you!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hey Sarah,

    I had nver thought to use shells in a vase with flowers. I’ve used pebbles, glass bits.leaves..but not shells. Der, It seems very obvious to me now. I have used shells to hold tea light candles. I’ve even found small rocks that are heart shaped.

    I knew someone who had a large fishing net covering one wall in her family room. Attached were family photos etc with an occasional plastic lobster and star fish etc thrown in. It was an …..ummmm interesting idea.
    Have a good one
    jojo3b :)

  18. I left my shells and sand up and added some fall leaves to the mantel. Mixed some in a bucket of driftwood also. It helps bring a little Fall into the home even though it’s still so warm here. I put some pictures up the other day. Stop by and have a peek if you get a minute.

  19. Tamara says:

    Love your shell/ flower pics they look beautiful together. I have lots of pebbles and stones in this cottage, hubby is a stone collector and they look lovely dotted around. (They do get dusty however and one or two have dissapeard up the hoover nozzle but don’t tell him will you!!)

  20. rachael says:

    love it, i’ve gotten into collectin seaglass, only found small pieces on coogee and have heard there’s some in the manly area…. i also love driftwood but can’t keep any here since customs probably wont allow it home with me when i someday move back to the US