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Subtle beach decor for both seaside and suburbia.

Byline: The Washington Post

Designer Shawn Evans, owner of the design firm P Four, joined The Washington Post staff writer Jura Koncius recently on the Home Front online chat. His Rehoboth Beach, Maryland, weekend home was recently featured in The Post. Here is an edited excerpt.

Q. For years I've brought the beach to suburbia, in what I hope is a tasteful way: seascape paintings, shells displayed in shadow boxes, wicker furniture on the porch, etc. I am now moving to the beach full time. Will my decorating style be too much?

A. I try to be subtle in my beach house design and bring the vibe inside in some nontraditional ways. I think it's whatever makes you happy and if you are living at the beach, why not celebrate it in your home? I love shells and beach art, so perhaps it's selecting a paint color that doesn't make it too much.

Q. My husband and I have enjoyed our beach house in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and are considering making it our permanent home. But it is not friendly for "aging in place." We would need to install an elevator, if possible, and figure out more storage space. Do you have any specific ideas for making such a home more accessible?

A. Adding an elevator is possible, although it can be difficult from a structural perspective. I recommend consulting a builder who can facilitate the structural engineers, etc. An in-home chair lift or "stair lift" is a possibility that may be easier to install.

Q. How do you clean your sisal rugs?

A. A little warm water and a toothbrush on stains or spills. The brush is needed to get into the natural fibers. Be careful not to use too much water, as it can cause the fibers to warp and stretch. Dry quickly. For everyday cleaning, the vacuum does the trick.

Q. My white vinyl-clad kitchen cabinets installed 22 years ago are yellowing, gummy and, in some cases, peeling. Is it possible to remove the vinyl cladding so I could paint the pressed wood underneath?

A. That is a common problem with many aging laminated cabinets. I am not sure I would recommend painting them. You may want to consider replacing the doors with a paint-grade door and then paint everything.

Q. We have a house overlooking the water. Every paint color I try reflects off the ceiling, appears dull and takes on a greenish tint. What paint colors would you suggest to lighten up the room?

A. I would let the water view be the star and paint a light neutral color such as Sherman Williams's Accessible Beige.

Q. What's the best way to incorporate a beachy color palette into an urban apartment?

A. If you don't want to paint the walls, add beachy accessories such as pillows and artwork.

Q. I was really excited to see that you used grass cloth. My mom had it in our living room, but only below the chair rail. What are your thoughts on using grass cloth in a home that isn't at all "beachy"? I tend to prefer gray and white to beige.

A. I love grass-cloth wall coverings and use them frequently in design, and not just with beach-inspired decor. Grass cloth provides a wonderful, warm texture and depth. Grass-cloth wallcoverings also come in so many wonderful colors. We recently completed a design project in Baltimore where the dining room had a neutral, old grass-cloth wallcovering. We painted it navy blue, which allowed us to transform the space, maintain the beautiful texture and provide the client with an updated, sophisticated room.

Q. I have a pair of single-paned glass doors between my living room and library. Both rooms have lots of windows, but the library is on the north side, so its brightness comes from the living room. But it is a functional library and the books are distracting from the living room. I'm thinking of replacing the glass in the doors with one-way mirrors to let in more light. Can this be done with aged mirror? Do you think it's a good idea?

A. I like the idea. I think an antique glass could be beautiful and add some light to your living room while hiding the books you don't always want to be looking at. You should be able to find an antique mirror at any glass provider.

Q. My husband and I are building a house in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We want it to have a carefree, beach feel but with a little elegance. I have a large blue sofa, which will be the main piece in the living/dining area. What color should I put on the wall? I love blue or gray tones.

A. I think gray walls with a blue sofa would be stunning. You can paint a light gray in the living area and maybe go a little darker in the bedroom for more of a moody vibe. You can layer different blues in pillows and accessories.

Q. We recently bought a new home in a planned community. It has a walkout basement and we would like to build a deck coming off the kitchen to the main living area. We'd also like to install a sunroom where the walls can be pushed open in summer months -- kind of like folding, accordion-glass doors. Can you recommend how we can achieve this?

A. For this big project, I would start with a builder who can facilitate the work needed with engineers and architects.

Q. What is a good host gift if you are going to visit someone for a long weekend at a beach house?

A. We have a lot of guests at our beach house and our guests are typically overly generous with gifts. We have friends stop by farm stands on their way to the beach and pick up fresh corn, a homemade berry pie or a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers. I recommend bringing a board game or a beach game, such as badminton. You can never have enough games and it's a lot of fun to enjoy them with your guests. Of course, I never get tired of a nice bottle of wine or champagne. Another fun idea is putting together a basket of mixers and ingredients for a specialty summer cocktail.

Q. You have a pool, which means there must be people running around in wet bathing suits. Do you often ask them not to sit on the indoor furniture?

A. We don't ask guests to not sit on the indoor furniture with wet suits, as most of our guests respect the home and furnishings. But I did choose durable fabrics and finishes because the home gets a lot of use with large groups.

Q. What's the best formula for a bed in a beach house: duvet, comforter or a light matelass cover?

A. I really enjoy bed linens and tend to layer a lot of bedding, so that our guests have everything they may need as people like to sleep at different temperatures. I often use a light cover and roll up a big, fluffy duvet at the end of the bed. Since we have seven bedrooms and lots of guests, selecting fabrics that are easily laundered is important. Laundry at a beach house never ends! Q. You have a pool, which means there must be people running around in wet bathing suits. Do you often ask them not to sit on the indoor furniture?

A. We don't ask guests to not sit on the indoor furniture with wet suits, as most of our guests respect the home and furnishings. But I did choose durable fabrics and finishes because the home gets a lot of use with large groups.

Q. I want to design a beach home with a welcoming vibe. Where should I start?

A. Talk with the owners to understand how they want to live in the space. Ensuring that a home is both beautiful and functional is critical in residential design. I encourage clients to share personal stories, photos and artifacts to help with inspiration and determine the direction. Also ask clients what existing items (furniture, art, etc.) are important to them. Then it's about creating a space that reflects the owners' personality and ensuring comfort and style prevail.

Q. How did you choose lavender as your accent color?

A. The lavender accent color is soft, subtle and soothing. I wanted to introduce a little color, but have it be minimal. The particular lavender I used has a bit of a gray tone. The lavender is beautiful against the grays and charcoals we have on some of the walls. It is introduced only in pillows and large jars of actual lavender (for color and scent). I have a lavender pillow on each dining chair and a few on the sofas, which is just enough.

Q. Our house has contemporary furniture. We have triple windows with Duette shades. Above the shades we have a straight cornice that matches the gray/yellow in the furniture and area rug. Is the cornice over the top of the shades considered contemporary?

A. A cornice is not typically a contemporary design element; however, it can be if it is kept simple, which sounds like what you have done.

Q. Blue-and-white nautical never gets tired unless it's the winter holidays. How can I make fabric and other choices that can easily transcend the seasons? Obviously pillows and linens are easy and maybe enough, but what about our blue sofa?

A. I love the idea of a blue sofa (I actually have a navy one in my Washington, D.C., home). Blue is one of the most widely accepted colors. A bold blue sofa allows you to easily change pillows and accessories seasonally.

Q. Do you have a summer wardrobe in your beach house so you don't have to pack every weekend? Also, do you schlep stuff and supplies from Washington or buy it in Rehoboth?

A. We keep a closet full of clothes at the beach house to eliminate the hassle of moving clothes back and forth. Plus, our beach attire is not always D.C.-appropriate. When we travel to beach destinations, we typically pack from our beach home closet. We buy other supplies such as food, drink and everyday household items in Rehoboth. We also have things delivered via Amazon and Costco.

Q. What's the best formula for a bed in a beach house: duvet, comforter or a light matelass cover?

A. I really enjoy bed linens and tend to layer a lot of bedding, so that our guests have everything they may need as people like to sleep at different temperatures. I often use a light cover and roll up a big, fluffy duvet at the end of the bed. Since we have seven bedrooms and lots of guests, selecting fabrics that are easily laundered is important. Laundry at a beach house never ends!
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Title Annotation:Real Estate
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Aug 31, 2018
Words:1831
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