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Designer Shawn Evans, owner of the design firm P Four, joined Washington Post staff writer Jura Koncius last week on the Home Front online chat. His Rehoboth Beach, Maryland, weekend home was recently featured in The Post. Here is an edited excerpt.
I want to design a beach home with a welcoming vibe. Where should I start?
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 artefacts 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.
How do you clean your sisal rugs?
A little warm water and a toothbrush on stains or spills. The brush is needed to get into the natural fibres. Be careful not to use too much water, as it can cause the fibres to warp and stretch. Dry quickly. For everyday cleaning, the vacuum does the trick.
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?
I try to be subtle in my beach house design and bring the vibe inside in some non-traditional 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 colour that doesn't make it too much.
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?
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 colours. A bold blue sofa allows you to easily change pillows and accessories seasonally.
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?
That is a common problem with many ageing 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.
We have a house overlooking the water. Every paint colour I try reflects off the ceiling, appears dull and takes on a greenish tint. What paint colours would you suggest to lighten up the room?
I would let the water view be the star and paint a light neutral colour such as Sherman Williams's Accessible Beige.
What's the best way to incorporate a beachy colour palette into an urban apartment?
If you don't want to paint the walls, add beachy accessories such as pillows and artwork.
What is a good host gift if you are going to visit someone for a long weekend at a beach house?
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 speciality summer cocktail.
What's the best formula for a bed in a beach house: duvet, comforter or a light matelassé cover?
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!
Read the full story on The Washington Post.
Featured Image: Michael Ruiter, Pexels