Under the Sea

Summer is almost here, and I am constantly battling my seaside daydreams to try and focus on work. But sometimes a girl just has to get away.

Dreamweaver Barry Dixon put together an underwater fantasy for a couple in Palm Beach modeling the motif after the Italian baroque love of seashell and grotto designs. The details are everywhere: the custom chandelier, Barry likens to an octopus; in the Living Room he used a cornice cast from real shells; there is seaweed-like fabric on the chair; the aqua and green color scheme echoes the colors of the sea.

I have to say I was pleased, yet again, to see that Metropolitan Home was thinking outside the glass box when they included this home in their June issue. While there are many contemporary elements to this Neptune's Palace, such as the bare terrazzo floors, there is also an abundance of traditional and whimsical luxury.

Can you just see Ariel sitting here cooling her flippers while sipping a Blue Hawaiian at the bar?

The Master Bedroom is a bit more subtle, yet still contributes to the overall undersea effect.

The Master Bath has just that right mix of antique and contemporary, high and low, that makes it perfect in my eyes. (The lantern is only $29!)

All photos above by Colleen Duffley

Artisan Cathy Jarman was let loose in the Powder Room and created a true grotto effect.

Oh, BTW, Barry Dixon has a new book scheduled to be released this fall. For Info, click here.

Photo by William Waldron

Elle Decor featured another Palm Beach house in their June issue. Owner Jack Staub just threw this little shell mirror together. Just another little weekend DIY project. Seriously, he has to be one talented guy. When describing the house, partner Renny Reynolds says: "Have you ever seen so many Buddhas? It's not exactly Zen austere." My kind of guy.

Photo from "Tony Duquette" by Wendy Goodman and Hutton Wilkinson

So just who started all of this shell underwater cool craziness anyway? Was it Tony Duquette with his over the top fabulous creations like the chandelier above? You'd have to go back a bit farther back than that. This tradition of creating beautiful objects out of shells dates at least as far back as the Renaissance. Rich merchants and scholars across the European continent were collecting and trading shells in the 1500's. Rooms were encrusted with shells, mirrors and boxes and furniture as well. Some wonderful examples:

A La Ronde, a late 18th century English house, shells were displayed in a fireplace. House and Garden November 1992.

Festoons of Shells at Walton, c. 1748, House and Garden November 1992.

Frederick the Great's grotto hall at Sanssouci, November 1763-70. House and Garden November 1992

Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1932.

A few objects of interest to feed that seaside obsession:

Early 20th century shell table from Linda Horn through 1st dibs.

Seashell sculpture, Late 18th century Italy, JRM International through 1st dibs.

OK....I just included this cuz it is so .....well...crazy bizarre fabulous. Dolce antiques, 1st dibs.

There is alot to choose from in the way of sea shell decor. Here are a few of my favorites:

Oly Studio Neptune Mirror

Oly Studio Jenny Chandelier. Designer Emma Jane Pilkington used this for a home in the latest Elle Decor.

Oly Studio Wellfleet Sconce

Looking for that big clamshell? Oly Studio has one: Lombok Ornament, Caste Resin Clamshell

Sweet shell creamer and sugar available through jettmodern.

OK...enough. I am ready to go back to work now.