Sand dollars are one of our magic summer talismans. The girls and I spend time combing the shoreline, sometimes for hours, and best when the tide is changing over from high to low. Our previous record had been 12 in a day, but we found fifteen of them on the 4th of July, marking it as our best haul ever. We brought them home to wash and dry in the sun and then they will go in a special glass jar. The girls have strict rules about what can be saved – we have to find them ourselves and they have to be full circles, although the centers can be broken. The sand dollars had great hues within their whites…greys, greens and beiges. As we marveled about the nuances in color and detail it got me thinking about how so many of our best color cues come from nature.

The color white has been a big subject around here lately. The Tokyo exodus has caused a lot of people to need decorating advice and one of the questions I get all the time is about the color white. The house here in Ocean Grove has a very bright white for its trim, but that was a conscious decision and not one that works everywhere.  The colors I tend to recommend are warmer softer whites, particularly Benjamin Moore’s White Dove and China White. Both have enough grey in them to not read as yellowish. Sometimes we think about white as an absence of color, but it is actually a finely shaded color unto itself. In my last post I referenced Joanna Madden’s house in Point Pleasant – check out the full article in Country Living to see the full spectrum of whites she uses.

Someone else who gets white right is Lori Guyer of White Flower Farmhouse. Out on the north shore of Long Island, I remember visiting when she had first opened the shop and haven’t been able to go back since. She does have an online store and a few blogs detailing her great vintage and refurbished pieces as well as decorating projects.  I love this photo of the store (note the Boston fern!) and believe the white on the walls is another favorite, Benjamin Moore’s Ballet White, which has a strong warm presence. A friend used it in recently in her living room and it really reads as a color on the walls, while remaining a white at the same time.

On my coffee table I have more studies in white in Beach by photographer Josie Iselin, a housewarming present from another friend.

And Josie Iselin proves it is not only whites we can get from nature…

And here is my own try at art photography after we added our loot to last summer’s finds…shot with Hipstamatic on an iPhone with Kodot XGrizzled film and a Watts lens.