My Coastal Striped Nautical Chest Makeover

When it comes to home decor, very few things are nicer than the crisp fresh looks of the coast. Nautical decorating has never gone out of style, and has in fact been an anchor in design for many years. For example, Ralph Lauren’s 2010 spring and summer collection brings together the richness of french furnishings combined with textiles borrowed from nautical looks. When decorating with nautical decor, furniture should be the first consideration and the major element of the theme. The furniture should be classic pieces and should be made from an attractive, solid wood such as burl wood, pine with lots of knots, or walnut (for a more upscale look). Good quality wood furnishings should be the focus of your room while the accessories will define the nautical feeling and give you the overall effect you are looking for.

Painted furniture is extremely popular in coastal decorating, and painted furniture pieces can be especially useful when combined with natural wood elements and a heavy use of metal. Brass is one of my favorite accessories on furniture, so I am always inclined to combine it with my painted furniture to some degree. With the particular dresser above, I felt the framed drawers happened to be the perfect design for a dramatic bold print. The natural wood was so spectacular on this chest, it would have been a sin to paint the entire dresser, so the classic nautical stripe seemed to be the perfect fit for this antique beauty.

How did I achieve this striped nautical look?

I started by slightly sanding the dresser, and then adding an extra wide tape to the dresser by starting in the middle of the dresser and working my way out. I would always suggest spraying your dresser when doing this technique, as brush painting will always create a raised paint line which you want to avoid. In addition, flat paint is always the best idea when buying a spray paint, but gloss or semi gloss may be all that is available and will work almost just the same.  After spraying your dresser, remove the tape an hour later, revealing the beautiful design.

I found the most difficult part of this process was sealing the design. Many times with wood furniture, spray painted lines will react differently to different products. I would NOT suggest a flat or matte clear spray paint enamel which will blister your stripes. Clear gold leaf sealer also blisters the paint. Polyurethane is about the only safe clear paint that will work well with this type of technique. It will produce a glossy effect even using the satin finish products that are available. Some of the clear sprays I had tried blistered my chest, causing me to redo some of the areas, so I greatly encourage you to try out a small area before spraying your entire furniture. I found by slightly sanding my piece after the stripes were dried, that a water-based clear polycrylic sealer worked the best. I did buy a nautical wheel to go into the center of the dresser which originally inspired me to go the nautical route with this particular piece. It is not shown on the pictures. The dresser turned out spectacularly, and is one of my favorite pieces thus far.

If you are considering other painted furniture, do consider white or cream painted furniture. If the piece has an upscale french feel to it, consider a white gloss combined with brass. If antique is your style, consider something painted with more of a distressed look to give it the feel of years of use on the beach or out at sea. Getting the right furniture pieces is really key if you are shooting for a nautical theme.

Outstanding Nautical Painted Furniture From Design Sponge

The nautical color palette usually consists of white, khaki, navy, or sea blue, and classical pops of red or yellow combined with metals and woods. A classic couch upholstered in a solid color, or a distressed leather chair goes a long way in bringing a nautical theme together. Patterns should be left to your accent chairs, while solid sofas give the opportunity to change your scheme with bold patterned throw pillows. Adding one or two pieces in bold contrasting colors such as yellow or orange can help to give the eye direction among all of the blue and white.

When choosing decorating elements, don’t stray too far from your nautical decorating theme or it will become a confusing design. For an authentic nautical design, finding the best antique furniture and accessories is the key to creating the ultimate costal look. Nautical decor should include elements that you would naturally find on a boat such as metal anchors, paddles, oars and ship wheels. Other must haves are vintage glass, antique lanterns, old wooden chests and aged books. Consider a few luxuries to sit on table tops such as brass spyglasses, or transferware. Other appropriate touches for any nautical-themed room are model sailboats, lighthouses, and model ships encased in glass.

Coastal Seagrass Rug – Sage/Khaki, Cotton Binding
Upholsery and decorative pillows go a long way in any design, and could spice up your decor.  Canvas is a traditional material that can be used for draperies.  Try to buy patterns and fabrics that are all different with one matching element to tie together your nautical-themed room.

I wish the you best of luck as you try to bring together your own nautical-themed design!

Ralph Lauren Nautical Coastal Interior Design Spring Summer 2010

Brass Porthole Clock 11″: Nautical Decor
Sextant Nautical Brass 4″ With Wooden Box
38″ Brass Telescope Harbormaster: Nautical Ship
Brass Triangle Sundial Compass 6″  Nautical Decor Desk Compasses

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