When it comes to shopping for beachy home decor, it’s best to go straight to the source.
No matter whether you live in Wilmington, Dover or Lewes, if you walk on the cutting edge of home fashion, your house probably has at least one or two beach-inspired accents. Consider candelabra shaped like coral, a vase full of shells or pillows with palm prints.
Not surprisingly, some of the best finds in beachy decor are found in beach-area shops, which are awash with shipshape home accessories, furnishings and art. And now that we’re nearing the end of the season, you might nab some treasures on sale. Here’s a sampling.
Peninsula Gallery (520 E. Savannah Road, Lewes, 645-0551) represents local and regional artists known for their seascapes, bayscapes and other water-related scenes, including Julie Molyneux and Michele Green. Local photographer Kevin Fleming’s work will be on display October 25 to November 24.
Stop by Circa Home-Antiques & Decorative Accessories (142 Second St., Lewes, 645-9633) on Thursdays if you’re into fine marine subjects from the past. Owner John Roman goes on buying trips on Wednesdays, so any new treasures are ready for sale the next day. “Anything with a water scene—if it’s expertly done—we would get it,” he says. Objects are also fair game. He recently purchased a large Majorca shell on a footed base of shells. You may have to schedule regular visits. As with any antiques shop, you never know what you’ll find on any given day.
Jeff West Home (413 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3635), which opened this year, takes the upscale approach to the seaside theme with tasteful needlepoint accent pillows. One pillow with blue and white piping features blue coral and a crab with orange claws. A new version features shrimp against shells and coral. “They’re doing well,” says owner Jeff West. The pillows retail for about $125.
West also carries antique prints and engravings of shore birds, along with seashell-encrusted wall sconces and mirrors. “We have everything from rugs to beachy lamps,” he says
Indeed, cocktail napkins that read “Don’t be crabby. It’s cocktail time” are a whimsical hit. The same is true of the nautical napkins bearing the motto: “What happens on board stays on board.” Buy a box of 50 for $19.50. More refined cloth napkins feature seahorse and starfish designs.
But perhaps the store’s most popular items are the mermaid statues and ornaments by artist Natalie Silitch. “They’ve been huge,” says West, who placed his third order only six weeks into opening. “They’re very sweet, special designs.” The shop carries exclusive designs, such as a July 4 mermaid. Prices range from $35 to $55.
Mod Cottage (247A Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-7277), also new this year, proves that beachy items can also be contemporary. The shop features a three-candle coral candelabra by Michael Aram. Made of metal and painted white, the candelabra has matching white trays. The price is $290.
Michael Aram also makes a 20-inch wide serving dish that looks like half of a white mussel shell. Priced at $169, the bowl has coordinating condiment dishes for $39, which are shaped like mussel and clam shells.
Brad Holsinger, who co-owns the shop with Ed Moore, also suggests the “octo-bowl,” made by Hudson Beach Glass. The 10-inch diameter bowl, which retails for $110, looks just like a white octopus. “People love it.”
But the big seller is Thomas Paul’s Sea Life Collection of melamine plates. “It’s the most exciting thing,” Holsinger says. A set of four dinner plates, priced at $44, are shaped like a lobster, octopus, horseshoe crab and blue crab. Dessert plates for $34 include turtle and seahorse shapes. There are even matching coasters.
DIY fanatics can bop over to Creatable Crafts (146 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-1020), where you paint your own pottery. Coastal objects include fish plates, lighthouses, shell platters, shells and pirate paraphernalia, “which is very hot right now,” says owner Elona Shaffert. If you’re trying to complement a room’s decor, bring in a piece of wallpaper or fabric to match colors. The fee is the item’s cost plus an $8-per-hour studio fee, which includes paint and firing.
Over at Kennedy Gallery (140 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3903), customers can’t get enough of Romanick ceramic sea creatures, says sales assistant Kate Kennedy. “These guys are so cute,” she says.
The gallery has exclusive rights in Rehoboth for the ceramic sea creatures, which are handmade in Newark. Expect to see blowfish, turtles, seahorses, sharks and lobsters the size of hubcaps, all with fun, cartoon-like qualities.
Kennedy has four in her bathroom. “Water won’t hurt them,” she says. “Eventually, a print would mildew.” A kid’s room is another natural place for the critters to swim.
Kennedy Gallery also sells prints and photos of the area, as well as hand-blown glass fish in various colors and ceramic tiles with local beach scenes, including Dolle’s, the Indian River Lifesaving Station and the Silver Lake gazebos.
Local artists Aubré Duncan and Laura Hickman last year opened the Gallery on Central Avenue (10 Central Ave., Ocean View, 539-5730). Hickman, who grew up in Bethany Beach, is inspired by the everyday magic of her hometown. Subjects include beach umbrellas and chairs and backyards with laundry hanging in them. Duncan takes a whimsical approach to beach scenes. The gallery features the artists’ prints and originals, along with jewelry made by Duncan and friends.
Hickman says customers buy for their vacation homes and year-round homes. “We’ve heard them say, ‘We’ve got a home in Bethesda and we want to take something from Bethany back home with us,’” she says.
Lavender & Lace (34902 Atlantic Ave., Ocean View, 539-5933), helps homeowners decorate with that beach cottage look, made popular by Rachel Ashwell and Shabby Chic. Picture white-painted chairs, bookcases and tables. Cattails (The Marketplace at Sea Colony, Del. 1, Bethany Beach, 537-1142) is the place for Tommy Bahama dinnerware.
Carolina Street (Del. 1, Fenwick Island, 539-2405) is a bright and cheerful store full of home accessories. Of note are the Buttonworks pictures, made of buttons and depicting such seaside scenes as pelicans and mermaids, and rugs with fish motifs.
For a wider variety of all things nautical, head to Fenwick Float-ors (35034 Buoy Boulevard and Lighthouse Road, West Fenwick Island, 436-5953). “We have a little bit of everything in that regard,” says Jason McBride, whose parents Hugh and Tina McBride started the business with buoys known as Float-ors.
The buoys, adorned with artwork, are suitable for indoor and outdoor decor. They sell for about $35, and you can personalize them with expressions, such as “Joe’s Beach House” or the “Smiths’ Crab House.” A smaller version serves as a kitchen utensil holder for crab mallets and other items. The store also offers paintings, sculptures, kids’ toys, fish carvings—all made from artists around the world.
The buoys themselves are world travelers. McBride recalls the couple who hung a buoy on their boat to let friends know when it was party time. One friend nabbed the buoy and the rest of the group began photographing the buoy on their travels. Going to Hawaii on vacation? Take the buoy. Canada on business? The buoy tagged along. The buoy even visited the Jack Daniels distillery.
All that time, the sad owners thought the buoy had been stolen. The friends ordered another buoy from Float-ors and began photographing the two together. The original buoy, who’d left to “find himself” had discovered a mate on his travels. On the owner’s birthday, the friends presented him with both buoys and a DVD that documented the travels.
Apparently, attachments to Float-ors run deep. One man was buried with his buoy, proving that when it comes to nautical decor, you can take it with you