Even though it is finally warming up here in Tokyo and the cherry blossoms are opening more than a week late, I can’t seem to stop dreaming about summer. Perhaps it is the fact that just about everyone else I know here went off to some tropical paradise or another for spring break vacation, while we remained in quite unseasonably cold Japan. That being said, the girls and I did go up north with some dear friends to do relief work in Ishinomaki, a town devastated by the tsunami last spring. I want to give a shout out to the amazing organization that made our experience possible – It’s Not Just Mud – a small grassroots group that makes it easy to volunteer in Tohoku. I want to remind everyone that the work in northern Japan is still very very far from finished, even though it has basically vanished from the news. Every little bit helps, whether it be real-time work or a donation, and we found that most of all, people were just happy to see us. I have some special stories I’ll be sharing soon!

Many of my favorite bloggers have been posting about Anne Kelly’s new book Rooms to Inspire by the Sea and I think that is what has pulled me back to planning the next round of renovation work and decorating at our beach house. As I have scrolled through whatever images I can scavenge on-line, I can’t help but notice lots of inspiration links between some of the homes in the book and choices I have made or plan to make at our house. Some of the houses featured I am quite familiar with and have seen elsewhere, while others are new to me, but almost all of them have that elusive something special – that truly personal and lived in feeling – that I want so badly to achieve in my own home.

One of the first photos to catch my eye is this lovely porch, although I can’t credit which house it comes from. In addition to the all the green wicker, I love the way they have used accessories to really make this space a room.

I have been furiously collecting vintage wicker wherever I can find it, and let me tell you, it has not been easy. I am constantly laughed at when I inquire for the real thing. These days, all the “wicker” out there deserves those quotes as it is some type of plastic or other unnatural material, touted as being more durable than wicker. I find it ugly and actually it gets weirdly dirty and moldy, so I have been tracking down vintage wicker pieces and painting them the same color green. I don’t know if that would have been my first choice of color, but as the house came with a brand new exterior paint job, I decided to go with it and have been very pleased as the paint unifies pieces from different eras.

While the houses in the book that speak most to me are the Hicks-Wood, Scheerer and Derian homes, this cabinet from a project by Martyn Lawrence Bullard caught my eye.

I am still working my way along with my cabinet, trying to decide how I should improve the interior finish (paint? wallpaper? opinions please!) and some better styling, although I don’t have the luxury of space to display decorative coral. My cabinet needs to be a real workhorse, holding serving and eating china, silver, linens and just about everything we need in the dining room.

Having seen many of the interiors of India Hicks and David Flint Wood before, there is one particular new view that I absolutely adore. Perhaps it is the softness of the palette, the palm fronds, the birdcage-like fixture…I can’t quite put my finger on it. (And remind me to tell you about the amazing birdcage I bought at a recent shrine sale. As always the big question is how to get it on the plane!) My color scheme in the photo above looks a bit one-sided and just the blue grey, but elsewhere in the room I manage to capture many of these soft shades. Somehow, I never have the right shot I want for the post!

Similar in color and feel is this view of Chris Mead and Zoe Hoare’s Hampton home, although it is more literal in its seafaring references.

Moving on, the color in Tom Scheerer’s bedroom photo is perhaps a little brighter in this photo than it is in person, based on previous photos I have seen of the room. I do love the replacement of the kitschy legs lamp he had there before with this coral one.

My bathroom color looks a bit washed out in this photo, but I think you can see an inspiration link anyway.

Steven Gambrel’s moody glass display…

…makes me think of mine, only this one is here in Tokyo, not near the sea. Quite a bit has been added since this shot, and I think it has reached its perfect point. Any more, and it might tip…

Which also brings to mind what seems to be an alternative cover, which comes up when I try to order the book in Japan. I know the floats in the giant clam shell is kind of a cliché but I still love it! Driftwood lamp and bottles too!

The big projects looming at our place are the master bath and kitchen. I think I may have found a good vintage door to use in the bathroom to convert the entry to a pocket door. Love the simple panels, especially on a small door.

And I have been inspired by a friend’s recent renovation…

and by Brooke Giannetti as well…

…to pursue my inspiration photo a bit more and possibly use a free standing over mount sink in the master bath after all. It is so easy to convert a cabinet or table to a vanity this way.

As for the kitchen, watch for a big upcoming post on that. I know I keep promising and not delivering, but I am needing to sort out two posts – one for what I really want to do when I gut the whole thing – and the other the shoestring budget DIY plan for the meantime. This is an inspiration photo from Heather Bullard I keep coming back to that works for either scenario.

The next two weeks are super busy for me – I hope you will bear with me if posting is light – as my elder daughter is having her Bat Mitzvah on April 14th. But I will be posting about the sakura (cherry blossom) inspired party details!

Image credits: 1-2, 4, 6-8, 10 & 12. Rooms to Inspire by the Sea, by Anne Kelly, photographs by Tim Street-Porter, some of the images via Mrs. Blandings or Style Court, 3, 5, 9 & 11. me, 12. V. Felgner, 13. via Velvet & Linen, 14. via Heather Bullard