“If you are obsessed with blue, don’t hold back. Just go for it.”
That’s the advice of design expert and author Phoebe Howard. She fell in love with blue long before she became a celebrated decorator. Decades after her childhood on the beach in Florida, she began a career specializing in waterfront homes and found that her clients were just as crazy about blue as she.
“They didn’t just like blue or love blue, they were obsessed with blue,” she recalls. From these experiences comes her latest book, Coastal Blues: Mrs. Howard’s Guide to Decorating with the Colors of the Sea and Sky from Abrams Books.
She discussed the book and many “get-the-look” tips at a recent #HPMKT interview with Ellen McGauley, homes editor at Coastal Living Magazine, shown below with Phoebe, who’s on the left.
Phoebe, also known to her fans as “Mrs. Howard,” opened her first store, Mrs. Howard, in Jacksonville, Fla. 20 years ago, reflecting the essence of coastal style and charm. She now has stores in Georgia and North Carolina, and her work is frequently featured in House Beautiful, Coastal Living, Southern Accents and Veranda, along with New York Times and ELLE Decor.
Commenting that, “Anything you see next to a body of water automatically looks beautiful,” Phoebe noted that water is therapeutic emotionally and physically.
“Dining alfresco by the water is one of life’s great joys,” she said. Many of the book’s settings, like the opening photo, are from outdoor water-front spaces. Others take on more of a Trade Winds or Plantation vibe.
In the setting above, classic Chinese blue and white porcelain is used as a decorative pattern that wraps an entire room in a magical atmosphere.
The juxtaposition of robin’s egg strie panels and custom wall murals commissioned from Savannah, Georgia-based artist Bob Christian is especially striking.
“Coastal Blues” is organized around 7 delicious blue decorating schemes: Sea Glass, Coral Reef, Deep Blue Ocean, Clear Water, Indigo Bay, Ocean Mist and Trade Winds.
The above setting is from the Coral Reef section. Comments Mrs. Howard, “Use strong color boldly, but in balance.
A light-hued rug, ceiling and accent tables temper saturated blues.”
Above, blue grass-cloth walls add depth and dimension to a room, creating opportunities for contrast and allowing objects to stand out, such as the Gary Komarin painting and colorful upholstery textiles.
Above, in a room with rich, saturated color, the eye needs a place to rest. White molding and wainscoting accomplish just that here.
The kitchen above is an example of how blue hues can unify an oddly shaped room’s quirky angles and dimensions.
To the delight of those attending the discussion, Phoebe Howard revealed some of her “go-to” blue paint colors from Benjamin Moore: “Healing Aloe,” “Quiet Moments,” “Glass Slipper,” “Alaskan Husky,” “Horizon,” “Fanfare” and “Pearl River.”
And of all the blue color schemes, does she have a favorite? Yes. “Ocean Mist,” she said. “I love pale blue rooms. I find them peaceful and soothing.”
Photos courtesy of Abrams.
Kim Darden Shaver
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Editor In Chief
Leslie Hendrix Wood Interiors
Gracious Living. Timeless Design. Family Traditions.
Photos Courtesy of Lexington Home Brands. Photos 6, 9, 10 & 11 by Author.