The Sea Inspires Waterfront Designs

The Sea Inspires Waterfront Designs

By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News

The sea and me — I used that phrase as the opening chapter title in my most recent book, Decorating on the Waterfront. Those words describe an important relationship in my early life and my middle life — and my now life. I love the sea, whether we’re talking about the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Indian or even the Arctic. And sea colors have always played a part in my decorating life.

I’ve carried the blue green of the Atlantic, viewed from the windows of so many Palm Beach homes, into many of the rooms I’ve designed, whether a living or dining room, a bedroom, an entryway or a kitchen. Combine the color of the sunshine with the blue of the ocean and the white of the foaming breakers, and you have the beginning of a successful interior design scheme. Imagine blue-green walls with white trim, paired with sunshine-yellow painted ceilings or yellow and white upholstery fabrics. That combination will always issue an invitation to happiness, as far as I’m concerned.

Artists have been painting the rhythms of the waters from, it seems, the beginning of time. Maritime museums are filled with historic artworks by painters from around the world. Looking at a painting of breaking waves is always fascinating, as oceans have moods — happy, sad, mystical. Some folks in Palm Beach are lucky enough to be able to sit and watch the movement of the waves as a pastime.

Recently I came across a new series of sea paintings by Jeffrey Nemeroff, a painter of note whose talents have sparked admiration across America. His new works of the sea are magical, and anyone who longs for the seagoing life is will find Nemeroff’s work fascinating.

Based in San Francisco, Nemeroff’s paintings of the sea are abstract yet realistic, capturing the ocean’s mood in so many interpretations. His work is depicted on his website,

A collector of seascapes I know has a vast collection of works by many different artists hanging on the walls of his Palm Beach bedroom, which happens to be on the Intracoastal Waterway. The paintings, prints and etchings depict the ocean, boats and sea creatures — and there are even a few small canvases of children’s sailboats. They hang on a wall painted skipper blue, at a right angle to a window wall with views of the water. The headboard wall is covered in mirror to reflect the Intracoastal. The entire bedroom is a sea captain’s delight.

Because blue tones are everywhere in nature — not only in the water but also in the sky — blue-green tones, skipper blues and bright Mediterranean blues can all be mixed together in a room to great effect. They’re perfect for a bedroom in which one dreams of traveling on the waterways of the world. And the artwork of Nemeroff would help keep such dreams coming.


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