[Photograph by Robert Capa, Magnum Photos, Copyright 1996 Estate of Robert Capa]
First, to get in the mood, it's time for the annual posting of two of my favorite summer images: Robert Capa's famous 1948 photo of Francoise Gilot and Pablo Picasso in sunny Golfe-Juan, France, (that's Picasso's nephew, Javier Vilaro, in the background) followed by designer Bonnie Cashin's "graffiti wall" circa 1962. In all of her homes Cashin created a wall like this to display quotes from her favorite intellectual heroes, such as Einstein, Ghandi and Picasso.
In recent years, some designers have said that decorating with shells is overdone. But others feel shells are just a natural element, like fresh flowers, that always enhance a room. In an old book from 1992 (House Beautiful Decorating Style) I spotted this starfish casually propped by stylist Sarah Shaw on a wall with varied art, and for a few summers I copied the idea. To keep my starfish in place, I even purchased a special removable wall adhesive invented for renters.
Schuyler Samperton's take on the starfish -- a tiny starfish -- as seen in Elle Decor, November, 2003.
Decorator Anne Coyle seems to like the idea too. [Image above is from Elle Decor, May 2005.]
Here, a classic tablescape in a Billy Baldwin-designed villa in Mallorca. The homeowner, Mrs. Gilbert Miller, has in her living room a guest book surrounded by personal objects: shells, an ostrich egg, summer flowers and a framed seascape. Image circa 1971.
Apart from gathering seashells, I've logged enough volunteer hours working with kids at children's hospitals and museums to know how popular summer crafts are. If you have a sophisticated tween or teen in your life, French General offers boxes filled with luxurious notions and supplies. (I realize these are a bit pricey for an 8-year old, but depending on the child, a lovely gift idea. Nice for grown-up girls too.)