Coastal Living's editor-in-chief Antonia van der Meer talks beach style | Home Front

Sep 06, 2012

Want the casual, coastal look all year round? Join us Thursday at 11 a.m. for a chat with Coastal Living's editor-in-chief Antonia van der Meer who will be online to answer all of your interior design questions.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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Welcome this morning to Antonia van der Meer, editor in chief of Coastal Living magazine, on this rainy muggy day in DC.  I miss the beach every minute don't you? Antonia's job is to find the best waterside looks and show how we can incorporate them into our own homes in a stylish way, wherever we live. I enjoy receiving her magazine - it gives you a lift when you start looking at the light filled homes filled with comfortable, casual furniture and the gorgeous water views.  She's ready to answer any questions about style and design and the magazine world. Let's begin.

Hello, everyone! I am so happy to take your questions and talk to you about coastal decor today! 

Is it customary to tip funiture deliverers? I'm waiting for deliveries from two different companies: one is an easy chair, and the second is a dining room table. I've paid a delivery fees for both, and the table's fee includes assembly. Thank you!

Tips are always up to you and they are not mandatory but they are customary. If you like the job the movers do, it's nice to thank them with a little extra something. 

I am submitting this question a day early in hopes of getting an answer. My daughter is 10 years old. We are buying bed room furniture for her. She is getting a queen bed with headboard, foot board, chest etc all in Merlot color. She didn't want a white bed, so we went with this color. She doesn't like the pink and purple colors and likes fun colors (Polka dots etc). I have no idea about designing, but would like to make it a fun room for her even with that dark furniture, but not sure how to go about it. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you!!!

Your daughter is a lucky girl to get such a Queen size bed at age 10!!! Hopefully the Merlot is sort of a burgundy/brownish color that can be considered a dark neutral. I personally love polka dots too - and there are lots of polka dot sheets and comforters around that would look great on her bed at her age. Garnet Hill has some nice ones. I would paint the walls a creamy white (not bright white) and choose one major accent color. With a merlot, I might suggest a pale blue for pillows, throw rugs or curtains.

Thanks for taking my question. I have downsized from a large house to a small apartment, and will have to store some items under my bed. I ordered a tailored dust riffle to hide the items. But my bed is an antique 4-poster, and the mattress is supported by L-shaped tabs that hang over the sides of the runner on the frame....thus I have realized I can't hang a dust ruffle behind the side runners. Will it look strange if the ruffle hangs outside of the runners? Would appreciate advice from you or the readers...including alternatives to the ruffle. I just don't want the items under the bed to show. Thank you.

I think I see what you mean. I personally prefer the most tailored dust ruffles you can find - I like box pleated the best. I know you are limited and sometimes you can't find the exact drop you need to go to the floor with old beds or these very thick mattresses that are on the market today. I'm thinking that you might need to have a custom dust ruffle made to accommodate your particular mattress and bed arrangement. What do you all think?

I bought a modern waterfront home, lots of huge windows, 25' ceilings in comon areas, dark grey tile throughout. What is the best way to blend modern clean lines with beachy style.

Create a little interest with some texture. Raffia baskets and sisal rugs can lend a beachy style and take the "cold" out of modern. Pops of bright color (we love yellow!) will cheer up the house and add a sense of fun! 

Any suggestions for getting the coastal look without going with white sofas? They're in all the magazines, but with 2 (black) cats and a toddler, white is just not going to work for me.

Why don't you consider a texture or a pattern? Stripes give you a great coastal look but you won't see as much cat hair.  We also are big believers in slipcovers here. You can take them off and throw them in the wash. 

My sister and I are celebrating big birthdays this year and want to take a trip together. We are both into art and design and would love to find a town with cute shops to spend a few days. The last big birthday, we did Charleston so it's out as is Austin, Boston, NYC, Savannah and New Orleans. Does anyone have any suggestions of where to go with good restaurants, a few sights to see and some cute shops and art galleries?

What a fun idea. I would love to go on such a trip with my dear sister! In fact, she recently mentioned going to Charleston with her husband - that city is on my list too. I can't believe I have never been there. I adore Austin though it's been a long time since I have been there. Portland, Seattle, New Orleans, and the Berkshires of Massachusetts would be on my list. Also the Hudson River Valley. All of these would have great shopping, antiques, inns and restaurants plus historic homes to visit. What do you guys have to suggest?

What are your favorite pale blue paint colors? It's hard to find just the right shade for a beach house bedroom.

Wow! We could list pretty blue colors all day. Sheer Bliss and Porcelain Glaze from Bejamin Moore are beautiful. We also love White Ice. Ralph Lauren has a color called Cloud Blue that is very soft with a little gray. Pale Powder from Farrow & Ball is similar. Their Blue Ground is a deeper shade of blue if you want to go in that direction. Valspar's River Mist and Cyrstalline are just so serene.We love them. Ok, we have to stop ourselves now...

We are moving soon, and our new dining room has 9 1/2 foot ceilings and a chair rail about 3 feet up. We were thinking Bm chestertown buff but would you suggest a complementary color for above or below the chair rail? We don't know if it's too much of the same color otherwise. Crown molding and chair rail will be decorators white.

I love your choice ofBM  Chestertown Buff - it's a rich neutral.  Personally, I like the look of the same paint color both above and below the railing. Decorators White is a nice contrast. What do you all think?

Hello. I need a coffee table. I actually have two, but my children (ages 3, 3, and 6) have destroyed the tops of the wood tables with their little cars. These are wood tables and they endure a lot of abuse. I have been thinking of either buying new ones ( but not sure I should with them so young - feels like sending a lamb to slaughter); or covering it at home with tile. Would tile be able to stand up to their play? What would be a good option color-wise so that it will last for years? I have considered something like slate or marble, even glass tiles, but I don't want to match it to our current accent colors, because I am certain they will change. Budget minded me thinks this project can be done for a small investment. Maybe 8 - 12" square tiles maximum, plus cutting and grout and sealer. Any ideas? I really want our home to feel like home and not an auxiliary daycare center overrun by toys. Please tell me I do not have to wait until they are off to college to do so.

What I might suggest is refinishing the top of the table - or distressing it some more and painting it with chalk paint. Then I would have a thick piece of glass cut for each table to protect it and make a snooth surface for coloring or car racing.

We are about to start a remodel of our kitchen. We LOVE the casual coastal style. We're wondering how you would define casual in the kitchen? painted vs. wood cabinets, island, countertop material, etc.. Thanks!

Painted cabinets, white-washed wood, wood floors (or ceramic tiles that look like wood) all lend a casual beachy flair. Casual is a way of life. Open shelving makes entertaining easy and keeps things from getting too formal. 

Hi Antonia! Love your magazine. Quick question: Since it looks like I'll never be able to afford a beach house, I've tried to decorate my traditional colonial in the "coastal" style that I love. Do you think there a problem going this route? And what would you say is a defining feature of "coastal" decorating?

Thanks! Glad you are a fan. Coastal is a frame of mind as much as it is a place, so we say it is fine to decorate an inland home with beachy style. 

G'morning...with the holidays coming up, any new decorating trends for Christmas that still say "i live at the beach and shoes are optional in my home". sidenote: love the Ultimate Beach Houses. Rosemary Beach was gorgeous but reeeeeally like the one in East Beach in Norfolk. Great job!

There is nothing better than spending the holidays near the water. You don't have to go all red and green with  your decor. Add shells to your greens (wreaths or mantle decorations), or string a starfish garland. By the way, we have a story coming up on coastal holiday gift wrap in our December issue. I know you will want to see that! 

I rarely get to participate in the live chats, but enjoy reading them afterward. However, last week's transcript (30 Aug) has been cut off. It says there were 47 responses, but only 7 questions and 6 answers show. Will the full transcript ever be posted, or should I just stop checking? Please check for glitches so that we who are working don' t miss this week's chat too!

I am so very sorry about this.  We did report this to our technical staff and they are working on it. Others also pointed out the problem to us. We hope this week all will be well. Thanks for your patience and for reading.

Looking to decorate my home office with beachy feel to it - calling it "Beach house chic" more the sandy color scheme with accents of color (blues, greens). Would love to hear some paint colors and color scheme ideas. Started a board on pinterest with what I like

More and more people are starting to have offices in their beach houses. It's just a fact of life that, even as we try to disconnect, we somtimes have to remain connected. Our October issue (on stands soon) has a story on home offices so you are in luck! Hope you can get your hands on that issue. In the meantime, for color, we like blues (naturally). The color blue encourages productivity! Try Capri by Sherwin Williams or Lake Crest by Glidden.  

I really like your magazine and I'm wondering, how many of your readers actually have seaside or lakeside homes and how many are just dreaming about them? Have you done polls?

Whether you own a home by the sea or are just dreaming, Coastal Living welcomes you! 

How about the Eastern Shore, plenty of shops between Annapolis, Kent Island, Kent Narrows, Easton all the way to Cambridge. A stay at the Kent Manor Inn on Kent Island is nice or The Hyatt in Cambridge is a great splurge. Also cute B&Bs in Easton or Saint Michael's.

Yes. You are so right. Why didn't I think of this? My husband took me for a really lovely lunch last weekend at Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michael's. I vowed I wanted to go back and stay there. The lobby and library there are decorated with stylish down filled club chairs and sofas and beautiful prints and antique oyster plates. The horizon pool and spa were beckoning. St. Michael's has a lot of neat shops and in the fall the leaves would make it magical. I have heard that the Hyatt in Cambridge is a wonderful relaxing place to go as well. So thanks for this idea. I'm putting it on my bucket list.

to the person whose children damaged her table - the best thing I ever did was take a very old, very sturdy wood desk and cut the legs off. I then painted the top black. My children beat this up over the years, but it was never very noticeable, and I'd give it a new coat of paint every year (usually right before Christmas, when we would have a lot of guests). I always planned to replace this one day, but still haven't, and now it gets beat up by my grandchildren. And it still looks good.

Cool! Thanks a lot for sharing this great idea.

We dio white lights and ornaments at the beach and silver for metallic. It blends better with the beach than traditional holiday colors but has the Xmasy feel.

Thanks! Very festive.

Very recently, we painted the family room Grecian Ivory with one accent wall in Posideon (dark teal) - gorgeous! Now, this is a lower level family room and where we spend 80-90% of our time with our children. Now, the entry needs to be done. Would it be too "off" if we painted it bright white? Our home is 40+ years old and quite dark inside unless you add lots of lamps. (We have minimal overhead lighting & no money currently for an electrician.) We also need to replace our front door (door with sidelights). I am thinking of doing the interior bright white & the exterior in navy or burgundy with brushed nickel hardware & trim. Thanks!

Yes, go ahead and paint it white! But a bright white might be too much of a contrast with what you have. How about an antique or creamy white? Dune White from Benjamin Moore is great. Seed Pearl from Pratt & Lambert is a favorite of ours, too! You may also want to check out White on White from Glidden. Very pretty! 

How much would I tip the deliverers when they carry my new sofa up six flights of stairs?

As much as you are able!!! If there are two guys, I would give $20 each.

Years ago we were in Florida (Marco Island) and collected a bunch of sand dollars. They've sat in a glass bowl for years, but I'm sure there's a better way to display them. Any thoughts?

Everyone who loves the beach loves to collect and display things. We recommend leaning a few against a windowsill, against the back of bookshelves or along a mantlepiece. I also sometimes use them to top a pile of books on a coffee table. 

Thanks to a plumbing problem, our bathroom is getting ripped apart. The good news is I get the remodel I've been wanting. The bad news is that I have to decide everything quickly. In any type of decorating, I'm overwhelmed by the choices. Where do I start? Should I pick the tile first? I know the general color scheme that I want (blues/aqua/beach glass shades) but that's about it.

My plumber is at my house right now! I just love it when he comes to fine tune all of my ancient 1937 bathroom and kitchen faucets and drains.  But if you had to rip up your bathroom, you've gotta make some decisions. My advice is to keep it classic. The white and black tiles in my master bathroom still look good after decades of use. I love subway tiles in white but you could also mix in some pale blue beach glass tiles too. You could also paint the walls one of the yummy pale blue shades that Antonia suggested earlier in the chat and get towels in a paler shade of blue. White is always in style, just remember that, you can always add more color with accessories.

Hi all, We're doing a whole kitchen reno. Our current appliances are white and our dishwasher is only 2 years old. We could keep it and save $$. Questions: Is white totally "out" now? Must we do stainless steel? (Cabinets will be a light maple tone, with "blue sahara" silestone counters.) Husband and wife can't agree on this one. THANKS!

Stainless steel is certainly popular but white is still in. If you like your cabinets, keep them.

We were recently in South Walton, Florida and toured your Ultimate Beach Home in Rosemary Beach. It was absolutely stunning and amazing. What are the key design elements that I could use in my own home to achieve a similar look and feel?

So glad you liked the house! We do these every year and each year I am amazed by how beautiful they are. The Rosemary Beach home used a lot of monochromatic, neutral colors throughout. Everything was inspired by nature. Some walls were painted sea glass colors and there are natural rugs throughout. But even in a house this elegant and sophisticated, there should always be room for the striped Ping-Pong table in the game room! 

This is why my husband and I decided we like distressed, rustic furniture. It still looks good when beat up. We just sand and repolish or refinish, as needed. And Old English has done wonders on scratches on a lot of my furniture.

Very clever! Houses are meant to be lived in. We're glad you found a solution that worked for  your family. 

Our beautiful little city has great restaurants, boutiques and the Yale campus with interesting museums and other sights. We're also near beautiful beaches and coastal towns like Mystic. You can also fly right into New Haven hassle-free. Come visit!

Yes! New Haven and surrounding area is delightful. Connecticut has so much to offer. Plus all that incredible pizza to sample.  I actually had a delightful interlude on the way home from Cape Cod this summer in the darling little town of Stonington, which had incredible architecture, intriguing shops, cute bistros and a drop dead water view.

Hello. All my appliances are white (fridge, dishwasher, stove) and my tile backsplash is blue and white. The dishwasher is on its last legs. Should I avoid stainless steel? As in, is the stainless steel trend finally on its way out?? With all the oil rubbed bronze, brass, copper, etc. metal finishes coming out for other fixtures, what is next for appliances? Appliances that are covered by faux cabinet doors, or a new finish, or going back to plain old black or white??

Tough question. Just got news from GE that their latest appliance color is slate - dark gray. I think stainless and white are the basics as is black. You can't go wrong with one of those.

 Everyone is totally into the beachy vibe. Antonia, thanks so much for sharing a lot of really great information. I've written down your beach glass blue paint suggestions - it is always something our readers ask for. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

I want to be able to put a hot pan or pot down on the counter and forget about it. I have heard granite requires sealing, but that doesn't sound too hard. Which do you think looks more appropriate - quartz or granite - in a traditional yet bright and beachy home?

Granite's hardness prevents a lot of surface marks so it is a good choice for hardworking kitchens. Granite does need a sealer. It should be applied every 3-5 years. Quartz is a great choice, too. Both would look good in a bright, beachy home. It is really a personal decision. You could go either way. 

It has been nice chatting with everyone. I wish I could have answered more questions. Happy decorating, everyone! We have lots of ideas in every issue. Hope you continue to find what you need in our pages. 


In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

Home Q&A archive
Antonia van der Meer
Antonia van der Meer was named editor-in-chief of Coastal Living in February 2011 and runs the editorial side of the Coastal Living brand, which celebrates life along the coast. In her role as a writer and editor, van der Meer has contributed to national television programs including The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS: This Morning, The Insider, EXTRA, and Fox Business Network. She has often been quoted in USA Today, The New York Times and more.
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