How to dive into the shell decor trend

Coastal living is just a dream for some, but coastal decor is for everyone. A conch here and a whelk there can add subtle style to any home, regardless of location. From the shores of the Atlantic to the landlocked states of the South, the use of seashells as home furnishings is a trend that is riding the high tide that we can follow.


“I don’t think it should be reserved for coastal homes. Nature is always a good choice for decorating,” says the interior designer Dawn Nakamura on the trend. “I love bringing nature into the home so the outdoors is connected to the indoors. Seashells and corals are different than what you would use for your other accessories like pillows. It’s not as trinket It’s more elegant.”


Not only is living near the beach not essential for seashell decor, but neither is a traditionally nautical home style. “Every piece is different and there is such a variety of colors in nature, so incorporating them into the home works with many different interiors. It adds warmth and melts the area where you use them,” says Nakamura. “Nautical [style] are we expected to have shells, but I think anyone can bring shells. It just brings the outside in, like a sanctuary. It makes this space come alive.”




How to board

Just like she did when incorporating seashells into our 2022 idea house, Nakamura recommends starting your maritime decorating journey by focusing on color palettes. Take stock of the colors already present in your room and choose shells that match what you already have. Because seashells come in so many different colors, from oranges to pinks, blues and even darker tones.


For an urban home, Nakamura recommends adding a mix of natural elements — her favorite is butterfly wings — to amp up the intrigue of natural decor without going into a fixed coastal theme. Another way to change up the attitude of a seashell infused home is to use darker colored seashells for a darker, yet still au natural design.


Once you’ve decided on the seashell color or theme that would work best for your home, one way to start your seashell decorating journey is to add individual pieces. “I would start with accessories first,” says Nakamura, “putting them on shelves is a good place to start, and inside cabinets.” Other places to put your seashell structure include bedside tables, bookshelves, and even showers.



From there, “the possibilities are endless,” says Nakamura. “Mirrors are always a good choice.” The same goes for mantelpieces, bar surrounds, plant stands, wall panels, headboard or bookcase perimeters and glass hurricanes which she says look beautiful when left uncovered. filled with shells and an elegant candle.


It’s definitely a trend with a treasure trove of DIY potential. Seashells for your home can be stored in multiple ways, including those picked up on a trip to the beach. “People fill bags full of cockle shells because they love putting them in their garden as decorative borders,” says Captain Darryl Marsh which organizes bombing adventures around Swansboro and Emerald Isle, North Carolina, including Bear Island. Along the way, he picked up an impressive collection of seashells to decorate his home, including a decorative jar filled with lettered olive shells and a wooden bowl filled with sand dollars that serves as his hall centerpiece. to eat. In addition to seashells, Marsh points to the popularity of assimilating other beach finds into home decor, especially driftwood, which Marsh sees primarily used as garden accents, but he experiments with as a base for the wall art.



By decorating your home with beach souvenirs, you also integrate souvenirs into your decor. After a family foray to the shore, Nakamura says her children give her seashells which she proudly displays as both a fashionable decorative item and a sentimental keepsake. “I put them in my bathroom to see them every day or on the bedside table,” she says. “It just reminds me of them, which I think is a nice sign.”


Shells for the home can also be sourced from antique vendors who may offer much larger shells than you’re likely to find on a casual stroll along the coast, while still being more accessible inland. . Based in McKinney, Texas, but hailing from Key West, Florida, East End Recovery offers a collection of large conch shells full of character. They are a century old, beautifully weathered and with rustic barnacles and fossils to prove it. Owner and curator Kaci Lyford displays them in curio cabinets, on shelves, in shelves as bookends, placed on stacked coffee table books, and on metal racks. “It makes the shell look like a work of art,” says Lyford. “Everyone is unique and no two are ever the same.”



Similarly, craftsmen like Christa’s Southern Seashells in West Palm Beach, Florida, offer unique seashell decor and furniture for those who love the seashell look but don’t want to go the DIY route and want a larger-scale effect rather than decorating with individual pieces. “It’s such a powerful way to decorate, whether you’re doing it all beige with a very subtle background or doing a really neat 25-foot seashell fireplace in all the colors,” says seashell enthusiast Christa Wilm. designate. “It can go in so many different directions, that’s one of the reasons I love it.” His shell-centric designs, such as mirrors, wall panels, mantelpieces and chandeliers, have found their way into numerous home improvement projects as well as elegant hotels, including the Hotel Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, the Hotel Faena in Miami Beach, and the Hotel Bellagio in Las Vegas.



Seashells can also be added around the house for a festive and seasonal touch, not just for summer either. “A lady here from Swansboro painted Grinch faces on sand dollars for Christmas decorations and that was the best thing,” Marsh says. From stylish home accessories to busy furniture to creative DIYs, this case trend is flowing.


Sand dollar Grinch ornaments made by Joan Gerdsen.
Courtesy of Darryl Marsh

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