She Sells Seashells

Posted on by Beyond Bespoke

Despite the obvious connotations of beaches, sun and holidays, shells are actually pretty great all year round. Bringing them inside can be done in a number of ways and part of their appeal comes from their amazing versatility. Shell decoration is just as effective randomly as it is uniformly-making them ideal for even an absolute novice at DIY interior design. Inside or outside; on walls, floors or frames, there is so much scope to play around with colours and shapes that you’ll feel like a toddler in a sandpit.

As with similar trends, there are various degrees of ‘shelling’ which, for the next few minutes will refer to the use of shells in one’s interior decoration, and not the preparation of seafood. I’ve handpicked a selection of the best shell designs around and, despite the Summer drawing to a premature close, they’ll still work in your home throughout the colder months.

The first choice was hard to resist as it is currently residing in Tarquin Bilgen’s shop on the Pimlico Road (right next to my office). A large shell-covered console table, this is as big a statement piece as you can get without jumping ship into full contemporary territory. It’s 1930s Venetian design is irresistible to those who want something classic in style, but the hundreds of exotic shells and pieces of coral that adorn the surfaces make it ideal for lovers of the more unusual. As for where to put it, it’s not a slim against-the-wall kind of console so it would need to stand pride of place in a Hallway, ideally somewhere with high ceilings and enough surrounding space. Pair it with wood where possible (the darker and richer, the better) and simple, natural colours.

Rare shell console table, from £28 000, Tarquin Bilgen
Rare shell console table, from £28 000, Tarquin Bilgen

For those with less space, or for whom the above is a little too much shelling, wall lights and sconces are a great option. Not only do they take up zero space and are therefore an option for any homeowner, but a decorative wall light can totally transform the look of a room. This scalloped wall light from Soane is available in two sizes and in a range of metal finishes…so you can easily have it made to complement your own interiors. The soft scalloped edges mean that the light (be it candlelight or electrical light) will be softly reflected in the shape of the shell. These would be lovely on Bathroom walls as they tie in with a bit of an underwater theme. Simple cream, white or grey paint would be best as these lights will stand out perfectly but metallics also go well with bolder colours. A row of these shell lights would also work well in a Dining Room-polished metal looks wonderful against wood panelling and they’re a good talking point among guests.


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Small shell wall light, from £1,050



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Large shell wall light, from £1,500


For a more subtle approach to incorporating shells into one’s interiors, look no further than the fabric giants themselves. A shell-patterned fabric, such as the linen/cotton mix we’ve chosen from Colefax & Fowler, makes for wonderful blinds, curtains or cushions. Smaller Kitchen or Bathroom windows look great with Roman blinds and this fabric provides a bit of colour without being too fussy. The simple colours go well with a multitude of both Kitchen and Bathroom materials: wood, granite, slate, marble and tiling, as well as being easily matched to other fabrics. The colours strike a perfect balance between light and warm, making it ideal for rooms that are the most in use throughout the year. For curtains, line these with off-white cotton and they would make wonderful Nursery or Children’s Bedroom curtains. Keep them long to get the full effect of the pattern and keep surrounding colours fairly neutral to avoid these disappearing into the background. Cushions upholstered in a pattern like this are the most fun. The neutral background means that this fabric will work on a blue, cream or beige sofa but if you want to go bolder, then scatter some shell cushions over a coloured sofa for a pop of brightness.

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Nautilus in Ceylon, from £87 per metre, Colefax & Fowler

Similar to the shell wall light is this rattan Venus chair: a scalloped edge hand-woven over an intricate cane frame with bound joints at the feet. At 33.5” high, this isn’t a particularly tall chair but the low seat and shell shaped back makes for surprising comfort. The Venus chair is available in either a natural or green rattan and the colour you go for entirely depends on where it’s going to go. The green is the more summery of the two; reminiscent of afternoons spent reading in the summerhouse but for versatility, the natural is probably the better choice. The shape would work well in a Bedroom where soft shapes are preferable; a pair opposite a bed for example would be a charming touch.

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The Venus Chair, from £3,500, Soane

The key with shelling is to start small and work your way up. You may well find that you incorporate shells into several rooms in your house, be it through lighting, fabrics or furniture; their versatility knows no bounds!

For information about any of the above, please contact Letty White-Spunner on; 020 7730 8564.

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