Bringing the Beach Vacation Home

Just because your beach holiday is now only a happy memory doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to the pretty things that made those relaxed mornings so delightful. Give your home a summery lift with these easy decorating projects using found objects and holiday mementos:

  • For an effortless seaside-inspired accent, fill a tall vase or hurricane-style vessel with a loose jumble of beachcombing bounty. Tip: Be sure to clean seaside treasures first with soap and water.
  • A perfect seashell, sculptural piece of driftwood or bit of pale-hued sea glass can become a personal and evocative still life when beautifully framed. A memory box (widely available at framing and crafts stores) is a hinged picture frame deep enough to display three-dimensional mementos. Arrange a few objects in an artful way-it's easy to go overboard, but simple compositions are traditionally more pleasing. Think a single starfish mounted against a natural linen background. Or a vignette featuring a special postcard, plume of sea grass (dried and pressed first) and a handful of interesting shells.
  • A cluster of seashell candles on a silver or bamboo tray makes a memorable centerpiece. To make, remove a tealight from its metal holder, melt the wax in a double boiler and carefully pour the liquid wax into cleaned shells. Position the wick in the center and let cool for several hours. Be sure to choose stable shells that won't tip over.
  • Embellish a photo frame with starfish and sand dollars. Simply hot-glue them along the frame's edge to accent a treasured vacation photograph.
  • Make a set of summery napkin rings in minutes: thread a five-inch length of ribbon through the top openings of a sand dollar, use a dab of glue to further secure it to the ribbon. Once dry, tie around a rolled napkin.
  • A Mason or decorative jam jar filled with layers of colored sand is an easy and fun project for kids: to dye the sand, put it in a glass or metal bowl and add enough water to cover. Mix in food coloring-you will need a lot-and let it stand until the sand turns the desired color. Drain off the excess water and allow sand to dry on a thick layer of paper towel before layering in the jar.
  • Children will love making-and wearing-seashell jewelry. Using a power drill with a very small bit or a Dremel tool, carefully make a hole in the shell. Use the lowest speed possible to avoid cracking the shell. Children can then thread the seas.

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