Monday, August 30, 2010

Calm Before the Storm!

Well, this weekend while my son was back in college and my daughter was visiting her beloved alma mater (PSU) my husband and I, and of course, Sadie spent a gorgeous weekend at the beach. The weather was perfect and it was the best beach days of the summer. (Although my husband says I say that every time I open my chair and sit down on the beach!) The bay was eerily quiet of boating activity and the calmest we have ever seen it.

The final official end of the summer weekend, Labor Day, is approaching and our house will be filled with fun. Our very best friend group will arrive for a weekend filled with wine, laughter, boating (a little more wine), dining together and yes, more wine. Our beach becomes very quiet after Labor Day when all the lifeguards have returned to school.

So, I hear Hurricane Earl may make a presence somewhere along the East Coast. Hopefully, he will stay out to sea enjoying the ocean and keep everyone here safe!

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Wildest Dreams Studio

While visiting the annual art show at the LBI Foundation for the Arts this past July, I fell in love with the artistic stained glass creations by Chiara Reading of My Wildest Dreams Studio. I was drawn to her incredible talent evident in every piece displayed. Obviously, I especially loved the coastal pieces, but her creations span more than the ocean. Some of my favorite pieces incorporate real shells into her stained glass art. We have just begun to carry her artful creations and invite you to see her amazing work on our website. By the way, all hand-made in New Jersey!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Finally, My Shell Table!

Years ago while vacationing in Key West, the condo/apartment we rented had this really interesting dining table. It was round with a glass top, but the unusual part was you were able to remove the top, fill it with sand and decorate it with shells, or whatever collection moved you. When we purchased our beach house, I searched and searched for this table, but was not able to find it. I ended up purchasing a simple white dining table, but always remembered that table and never gave up on the idea of wanting something similar.

I happened to be shopping in Pottery Barn one day, and although not a dining table, I found a table collection that would allow me to showcase my always multiplying shell collection. The tables are available in end table, coffee table and sofa table sizes. I decided to purchase the sofa/console table size and found a spot for it right behind a loveseat in our living room. I purchased play sand and then had fun setting up my shells inside. My favorite part is, though, all of the shells were collected on our beach during the crazy storms of the winter last year. The shells may not be perfect, but they came from my beach!

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Vacation Intentions

I had so many expectations to write on my blog everyday during my vacation at our beach. I thought I might find myself more creative and intuitive when all I had to think about was the tide schedule and what our dinner plans were.

Instead, I found myself relishing in the time we were able to spend as a family. All four of us (along with our Golden Retriever, Sadie) together for almost a week. I was going to blog about how wonderful it is to walk the beach. To wake up to the sun rising over the ocean. To read on the beach. To see the sunset over the bay. I decided that everyone who spends time at the beach knows these feelings!

Instead, we spent time on the beach together. We ate all of our meals together. We went boating together. We took Sadie to a sand bar island that comes up on our bay during low tide.

Now it's back to work, college, grad school and By the Sea Decor for the four of us. As for Sadie, well, she will have a few more weekends at the beach!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mermaids at the Beach

Who doesn't love a mermaid at the beach? Mermaids and their tales have been around forever. Stories abound around their origin but the best loved story in more recent history is the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of "The Little Mermaid". This has arguably become the standard and has influenced most modern depictions of mermaids since its publication.

We took our then very young daughter to see the Disney version of "The Little Mermaid". She spent countless hours reenacting Ariel's scenes with my husband playing the prince, of course. She knew the words to every song, long before it was so easy to find them on the internet. By default, my younger son came to love Sebastian. My husband and I can still see him in the Sebastian red crab Halloween costume I painstakingly made.

Our beach house has its supply of mermaids, also. Life at the Jersey Shore, usually means an outside or semi-outside shower area. It's always fun to bring new guests down to see their reaction to this beach-side staple. In renovating our beach house, we added a small dressing area to our shower and I used the wooden mermaid plaques by Suzanne Nicoll featured on our website. You can even add some hooks to make these plaques into towel racks.

Mermaids in a little girl's room at the beach, is well, adorable. Suzanne Nicoll Studios also has just introduced a really great new swimming mermaid in a retro polka dot mermaid costume, which we have just added to our website. I will be finding a spot for one of those at our beach house! We have also added the signature mermaid picket fence posts from Suzanne Nicoll which feature mermaids with your choice of hair color on old weathered fence posts.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How By the Sea Decor Came to Be!!

In the winter of 2002, our long-awaited dream of owning a beach home came true! We purchased a home on our favorite beach and promised ourselves that with the expense of owning a home, we would not decorate our newly-acquired dream house! That did not last long!

As we live in NJ, there are not too many year-round beach decor stores in our area. Of course, I headed to the internet to see what I could find. At the time, there were a few coastal decor online stores, but I could not find one that suited what I was looking for. I would find a piece here or a piece there, but no website with one-stop shopping. My ever-encouraging husband said, "why don't you just open an online store"? What??????

This thought remained in the back (and front, I might add) of my head all through high school graduations and college bound children. Every once in a while, my husband would ask "have you thought any more about opening that store"? Gulp...

About 2 years ago, we officially opened By the Sea Decor. It took me a few years (and some trepidation, I might add) to finally take the step. I have to admit, the purchasing of product for our store was the most fun. Learning to navigate our new website was a learning experience that continues. Blogging and social networking, well, still working on that.

By the time By the Sea opened, there were a few other online coastal decor stores offering products more in the line I envisioned. We have decided that customer service will be our passion (along with shopping for products!). I have no problem in directing customers to another source when we cannot provide what they need. We decided to offer free quality gift-wrapping services. Fabric bows are used. Personalized gift-tags with our "window to the sea" logo.

When you glance around our beach house, you will see that I am my own best customer!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My New Seaside Kitchen

When we purchased our beach house 10 years ago, the last thing I was thinking about was how I would be able to cook in our somewhat small, outdated kitchen. I was so ecstatic about having a beach home, as long as the stove worked (not sure why I cared about this) and the refrigerator kept things cold (not always to be counted on we soon found out) we were happy! I did not care about the old formica 80's vintage cabinets (or lack thereof). We always knew that someday we would expand our space.

When we did finally expand this year, we took advantage of an outside deck space and pushed the kitchen out to cover this. Our kitchen is now more functional, updated and well, more my style. Our cabinets are now a honey maple color . . . and there are lots of them. I used two different kind of cabinet hardware: one simple polished nickel contemporary door handles that I purchased at Lowe's and for the cabinet drawers, I used all different coastal patterns from the coastal decor hardware we carry on our website. I love the way everything coordinates, but is so interesting because nothing is actually a "set". If you have read any of my previous postings, I do like to mix things up.

Our countertops are simple tile in shades of sand, but the backsplash behind our stove is done in bits of seaglass in all soft shades. It looks wonderful! I added a few artwork pieces in the Retro Diver wooden plaque and the black shell studies. As I have mentioned, I am my own best customer!

Now our kitchen is larger, more functional and easier to move around in. Does not mean I am cooking more, though! Especially when my young adult children bring down their young adult friends, dinner is usually 20 or more, so it's outside to the barbeque grill. But the kitchen still looks nice!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Betsy Drake Coastal Decor Pillows

Sometimes I wish I had a storefront, specifically, to highlight these amazing coastal pillows created by talented husband and artist team, Betsy Drake and R.B. Hamilton (a NJ native, I might add!) I wish everyone had an opportunity to actually see his incredible artwork and how it transfers onto these colorful, perfectly well made coastal decor accent pillows designed by Betsy Drake. Somehow, the pictures just cannot capture the beauty and detail.
I just purchased the blue octopus and crab pillows (oh, what a surprise) to bring some life back into my faded blue sofa. The center artwork is beautiful and the surrounding fabric is done in a striped coordinating color. The backs are plain and I might add, these pillows are comfortable and get used as more than just "decorator" pillows. Take a peek into our family room at the beach and, inevitably, one of my children's friend's will be napping with them! Hey, its tough being at the beach!