Good day, design friends! Peggi here. Happiest of June Mondays to you. Even though the solstice is still two days away, we’re in full summer mode. Sporting shorts, swatting mosquitoes, and longing for a swim! My Maine trip isn’t until August, but I’m already dreaming of misty mornings on the lake and the salty smooch of ocean breezes. I thought we could indulge these watery visions today with a chat about shells. Much like Sarah’s thoughts on woven decor, I don’t believe shells must be restricted to coastal interiors, and I’m especially drawn to them in summer. Their myriad forms have appeared in design for centuries. Unsure about incorporating them into your landlocked location? Click through for abundant inspiration and a covetable collection.
Historically, shells have been traded as currency, displayed to flaunt wealth, and considered sacred in numerous spiritual traditions. So, what drives our centuries’ old fascination with these souvenirs from the sea? Their incredible natural beauty and seemingly limitless varieties, for starters. (100,000 different species!) Glimmering iridescence, mesmerizing whorls, fantastical shapes. Of course, we’re captivated. I’d wager we’re also drawn to their otherworldly origins. Sure, the adventurous among us can visit, but only magical creatures dwell in the briny deep. Less intrepid explorers gaze wistfully from shore, content to collect bits bequeathed to the beach. These beauties are often associated with femininity, renewal, and abundance. Who can argue with bringing that energy into your home?
Now that we’ve discussed the whys, let’s delve into how shells might grace diverse spaces. For classic and subtle applications, consider stylised motifs rather than actual specimens. Timeless vintage brass sconces (#13) flanking a mirror above a fireplace or glowing on a cozy den wall? Perfectly sophisticated. Try a Chippendale style console or chest featuring elegant carved shell embellishments if you crave a tad of trad. Perhaps a chic gilt mirror (#4) in an entry or powder bath would admirably reflect both your refined taste and affinity for the sea. Each of these examples provides just a nautical nod…a wavy whisper.
Click right on the images to be redirected to the source, or use the numbered links below to shop my finds.
01: shell appetizer plates // 02: horse bust // 03: vintage brass hooks // 04: carved gilt mirror // 05: natural nautilus shell // 06: tiger cowrie napkin rings // 07: vintage print matches // 08: marchmont sideboard // 09: embroidered linen guest towel // 10: vintage gold lowball glasses // 11: vintage brass bottle opener // 12: starfish sheets // 13: vintage brass candle sconces //
Although I attempted to assemble shell decor from understated to extravagant, I confess to being most obsessed with the dramatic offerings. First, behold the spectacular equine madness of #2! Holy, Poseidon’s pony. Imagine him where you’d typically perch a conventional bust. (For local Boise peeps, I spied one on FB!) If you seek an even bolder statement, may I present #8. Casegoods and mirrors completely enrobed in shells offer a lot of look, but I adore the complex constellations. If you find these intriguing, have you heard of shell grottos? Entire structures intricately sheathed in shells! Marine mosaic magnificence. These glorious ostentations were created on country estates across the UK in the 17th and 18th century. Although some have surely succumbed to time and the elements, many survive and some even welcome visitors. Field trip, anyone?
For those who esteem an aesthetic somewhere between muted and OMG, you’re in luck! So many pretties. An assortment of real shells on a coffee table invites examination and evokes vacation memories. How about a gleaming brass clamshell for the built-ins or a Murano glass conch on your desk? Of course, shells-real or replica- are right at home in the bath because…water. Think towel hooks or a soap dish. I also love the notion of outfitting a bar with lots of summery ocean goodness. Glasses, cocktail napkins, appetizer plates! Speaking of plates, I could really satisfy my tablescape fantasies with an amazing undersea theme. Lots of opportunity to channel your aquatic aspirations even if you don’t have a seaside address.
Thus concludes my shell treatise. Can you envision these natural wonders in homes without a beachy vibe? Did I sell the seasonal aspect enough? Ha. No pressure. I’m just here to share intriguing discoveries and *maybe* encourage a little design experimentation. Pop into the comments with your thoughts. Also, who’s got fabulous summer plans? Let’s hear them. Have a stupendous week, friends. Until next time.