Remember this photo? The shelves themselves have since been completed, but I have not been back yet to our beach house to work on the styling. As I was literally walking out the door in December, I threw a few things up there to shoot a vignette for a post, including the French watercolor that inspired the bathroom in the first place, some nicely tarnished brass finds from Singapore, shell and coral collections the girls are gathering, and a shallow patterned kashigata (Japanese sweet mold) that reminded me of starfish and sand dollars.

Here’s a close-up.

Since then I have been gathering inspiration photos to help me crystallize my thinking. There is no one better to turn to for artful display than John Derian and I have long loved this photo with its giant sponge, shells and mercury glass.

A more recent photo from The New Victorian Ruralist is more regimented, but I love the mix of baskets, silver, white ironstone and glass.

And of course I can’t forget the vignette master herself, Joan from For the Love of a House, with this beautiful shelving array from her master bathroom.

All three photos share something in common, which is groupings of like objects contrasted with other groupings in different materials, usually about three kinds, including something natural, something metal and something glass. More than three gets busy and less than three has no animation. Without being too literal about this formula, I would like shells and coral, aged wood and old brass to be part of my display. My recent purchase of more kashigata with shallow relief patterns might just provide the touch I need. What looks to be coral fans is more likely lotus or some other botanical, but to my eye they read like oceanic plants.

I find these circular patterns irresistible too. They are double-sided, with different motifs on the reverse.

I think this classic Japanese pattern of little plover birds with waves is adorable for a beach house!

In addition, I have a friend who has also been buying kashigata with shells and sea life on them for her beach house on Long Island so I am hoping to get a look at them in situ this summer.

As I am not limiting myself to wood, but planning on complementing the unlaquered brass bathroom fittings with some aged brass display items, I was so excited to find this adorable set of brass cookie cutters with scalloped rims and a rolling crimper. Not sure yet whether I plan to use them on the bathroom shelves or save them for the kitchen. Speaking of the kitchen, Camille from The Vintique Object and I have been having fun brainstorming how to improve it without actually spending any money on it. I do eventually plan to renovate the kitchen completely, but in the meantime I want to take the ugly edge off. There will be much more on this project coming later, including the bleak photos of its current state, but one idea I have is to use warm brass and copper to help it along. If you are interested, she and I have a shared Pinterest page going where we exchange photos and ideas. It is such a great way to work with someone long distance!

And I’ve also got boards going for copper and silver on Pinterest, but with my obsession with aged brass, I think I need to start one for that too.

Related Posts:
Renovation Report…”Oldating” the Beach House Bathroom
Summer Simple…Vignettes and the Art of Arranging

Image Credits:1-2, 6-9. me, 3. Martha Stewart Living September 2009, 4. via The New Victorian Ruralist, 5. via For the Love of a House