Labor Day may be on the not-so-far horizon, but it’s still beach time all over the world, from St. Tropez to Nantucket, from the Hamptons to St. Croix, from Palm Beach to Key West.
That means it’s also beach umbrella time. If you have seen the smart and chic beach umbrellas, you know that color, color and more color is the byword. It wasn’t always this way.
When I designed for RockResorts, Laurance Rockefeller had a rule about color on the beach. Beach furnishings at Caneel Bay, Little Dix Bay and his Hawaiian resort could be only the color of sand. They were not to compete with the adjacent colors of nature. In a similar way, at RockResorts’ mountain properties, there were only green Adirondack chairs, a choice that wouldn’t interrupt the greenery of the pine trees.
While I understood RockResorts wishes, I prefer more color. After all, people visiting the beach are often on holiday, and color adds to the festive feel. Is it any wonder that color plays a key role in my decorating firm’s line of indoor-outdoor fabrics for umbrellas and furnishings?
I have been to a few of the South Florida clubs of late and striped umbrellas seem to be a favorite, especially in blue and white. And why not? That color scheme provides perfectly complements azure skies, aqua seas and white sand.
Solids, too, are popular. You’ll see deep blue, for instance, on umbrellas at Eau Palm Beach Ocean Resort in Manalapan.
Not all beach umbrellas belong to clubs, of course. Take a look at Midtown Beach in Palm Beach on a clear day and you’ll see lots of beachgoers who have brought their umbrellas to provide some welcome shade from the summer sun. Each one reflects the owner’s taste, and seeing that riot of color makes me happy.
Umbrellas covered in palm-leaf patterns — green on a white background — are always fanciful. My good friend Francie Whittenburg of Shoys, St. Croix, has decorated the pool of her villa with bright orange umbrellas to smile alongside the island’s flamboyant trees — known in America as royal poinciana trees.
If you’ve invited friends for a casual luncheon at an umbrella-topped table on your pool deck, you might set the table with accessories for a beachy look. Tablecloths in a variety of patterns and colors are available with a hole to accommodate the umbrella pole, some with zippers, buttons or other closures.
Choose perhaps a yellow-and-white striped tablecloth with orange napkins, green water glasses and a centerpiece or orange lilies in a clay-colored flower bowl. Perhaps you can even serve a salad with an edible flower — a nasturtium would provide a pop of orange against the salad greens for visual delight. That’s the way my friend Francie might do it. I always think of Francie, who hails from Texas, as St. Croix’s new hostess with the mostest.
Enjoy these last days of summertime. And whatever your plans, I hope you have a chance to relax and enjoy nature’s beauty under the shade of a stylish and colorful umbrella.