Living Room Refresh - Summer Mantle Seascape

Living Room Refresh: Summer Seascapes

Last week, Nate and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary.  We had a small but beautiful wedding in central Pennsylvania; instead of going all out on anniversary gifts for one another each year, we usually celebrate the day by recreating food dishes from the event and recalling our favorite memories over a special anniversary dinner.  One of our favorite things to do is have a mini-version of our wedding cake made.  Our cake was amazing!  Adorned with delicate and romantic English Garden roses and peonies in colors of creams, blush pinks and oranges, mounds of fluffy buttercream icing enveloped three tiers of vanilla cake and layers of fresh strawberries. It was a beauty!  The icing on the cake was the cake topper – a vintage bride and groom that sat atop my grandparents’ cake 60 years earlier.  Because the cake was so darn delicious, we decided to skip the “good luck” tradition of saving and freezing the top tier. (No way I was letting this special treat become victim to years of freezer burn!) Instead, we packed it up and enjoyed it for dessert each night on our honeymoon (No judging!)

Nate and I were financially responsible for the majority of our wedding; we didn’t have money left over for a honeymoon and originally figured we’d plan a special trip sometime in the future (Still planning saving for it…).  However, a family friend graciously offered us their timeshare on Cape Cod the week following the ceremony.  We gladly accepted the offer, loaded up my little Saturn (including that scrumptious cake), and made the 8-hour trip northeastward toward ‘The Cape!’

Neither of us had ever been to the Cape Cod area and were unfamiliar with the geography.  Of course, we all know of the famous Cape Cod islands, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard, but what about the actual Cape Cod peninsula?  Located in the southeast corner of Massachusetts, Cape Cod feels more like an island, almost completely surrounded by water; Cape Cod Bay lines its’s inner shores, Nantucket Sound is to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean lies to the east.  The Sagamore and Bourne bridges span the Cape Cod Canal, linking mainland Massachusetts to The Cape.  Spanning only 20 miles at it’s widest point, The Cape stretches for 65 miles along Route 6 to Provincetown at the very tip.

Cape Cod Map

After crossing the Sagamore Bridge, we headed toward our destination – the Sandcastle Resort near the tip of the Cape between North Truro and Provincetown.  By the time we made it to ‘P-Town’ it was near midnight and teeming rain. Driving along a strip of land no wider than a mile, in the pitch-black darkness during a torrential downpour felt ominous – like we were driving off the end of the Earth!

Staying near the Outer Cape, we were close to the Cape Cod National Seashore, a series of breathtaking dune-swept shorelines along the Atlantic Ocean, extending from Eastham to Provincetown. During the summer months, the entire cape is a tourism mecca, bustling with vacationers.  We were fortunate to be vacationing a week before the official summer season kicked off, which meant we were able to explore the pristine National Seashore beaches in their natural state.  Although it was the first week in June, a biting New England spring chill still hung in the air.  The brisk temperatures were not conducive for ocean swimming but lucky for us, made the beaches virtually abandoned.  Without having to worry about paying to park at each beach, we drove up and down the seashore, stopping at each beach, walking, and exploring the solitary landscape.

Our favorite site along the National Seashore was Marconi Beach near Wellfleet, named after the famous Italian inventor, Guglielmo Marconi. In 1903, Marconi sent a message of greetings on behalf of United States President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, successfully marking the first transatlantic radio transmission.   Marconi Beach is famous for it’s steep, forty-foot sand cliff, overlooking a massive expanse of sand.  A large boardwalk and stairs lead visitors over the cliff and down to the beach.  Here are a few images from our time on Marconi Beach.

For Nate and I, these images are iconic and are forever memories of our first week together as husband and wife. 

A few years ago, I had been scheming summer design ideas for our living room and thought it would be cool to use our cherished images as artwork while commemorating our 7th anniversary in the process. My plan was to update our mantle by adding a large-scale print of one of our honeymoon photos. I love that vintage seascape images are trending interior design pieces. Recently, I have been inspired by many images from around the web, including this Casual Coastal mantle by Emily Henderson shown here.  But most of my inspiration came from Amber Lewis’ “Cool As a Cucumber” living room.  Shown in the image below, the mantle and windows in this room are very similar to ours; plus I just love how Amber creates effortlessly chic-looking rooms for busy families.  Here, she grounds the fireplace wall with one very large, framed scenic print.


I contemplated creating a similar look with just one grand print, but after measuring our mantle, the print would have to be almost 60″ wide to look proportional.  I feared I would have trouble finding a printer that could create a quality image at that size and a frame to fit it.  Ultimately, I decided to still enlarge one of our images (to a more reasonable 36″x24″ size though), and fill out the rest of the mantle with another photo and other summer/beachy pieces we already owned. What image did you think I chose?  It’s been a while since I’ve browsed through our digital catalog of honeymoon images; I had so much fun going through our collection and reminiscing about our special trip – it was hard to choose just one photo!  I was able to narrow down my options to a landscape in colors of blue, tans, and creams to match the wall color (Sherwin Williams’ Zircon) and overall room aesthetic.  The lucky winner was one at our favorite places – the expansive Marconi Beach with its 40-foot sand cliff in the background.

Cape Cod National Seashore - Marconi Beach

Mantle/shelf styling is probably the easiest way to change the look in a room, especially if switching out pieces for the seasons or holidays.  I’m not one of those people that put out decorations for every holiday and I’m not crazy about “themey” looks, but I do like to make casual updates to our spaces with the changing seasons. For our living room mantle this summer season, I combined the Marconi Beach print, with a gorgeous print of Lake Norman at sunset, a whitewashed lantern we purchased on our honeymoon, some design books, candles, and a few warm-weather plants.

After the success I had with my dining room gallery wall, I’ve become hooked on Framatics Woodworks frames.   I love these frames so much, I usually pick out the frame first, before deciding on the size of my artwork. My Marconi Beach print needed to be big but the Woodworks largest sizes are 18″x24″ and 24″x24″ – just a little smaller than what I was looking for. Luckily, I found this pretty poster size frame – the Gemline Contemporary Natural Frames with Plexi.  It was lightweight but sturdy, and relatively inexpensive compared to others on the market. And that natural wood was perfect for a summer mantle scape.  Unfortunately, these frames are no longer available.  Check out The Poster Club for simple, modern poster-sized frames)

The actual print was expertly blown up by Hailey’s at Mooresville, a true ‘Mom and Pop’ printing shop.  I loved working with Harold and Janet Hailey – they were friendly, fast, and produced beautiful results at half the cost of the national chain printers.  Janet even printed two copies of the print on different paper stock for me to choose which one I liked better! (In general, I love supporting local small businesses whenever possible.)

Now let’s talk about that sunset print taken earlier this summer.  Lake Norman sunsets are always gorgeous.  Can you believe this photo was snapped with my cell phone camera from the back of a moving bowrider?  I can’t!  I was shocked at the clarity and resolution and knew it would be a perfect complement to the Marconi Print. This stunner was encased with the  Framatics Woodworks 16×20″ Blonde Wood Frame (mat removed).  These are the frames in our dining room gallery wall and are amazing!  With their unique depth and wood that angles sharply inward toward the glass, they are a form of art in itself; I can’t find anything else that compares.  If you’re looking for beautiful and modern looking frames, these are it!  Similar to the dining room images, this 16×20″ print was produced by Social Print Studio – an awesome California-based printing company. These guys are always coming up with really innovative and cool products for showcasing artwork.

I was so happy with the look of my mantle, but after looking through our honeymoon files, I really wanted to incorporate more of our images into the living room design.  One space that needed some artistic TLC was our staircase wall opposite the mantle.  This wall is tricky – it’s a triangle shape along a small hallway.  I wanted to do a small gallery wall here but knew it had to remain simple and proportional to the shape of the wall.  Remember that awesome printing company, Social Print Studio, I mentioned above?  One of their newer products are wrapped canvas prints.  What I great way to display a few more beach prints, right?

Here on the right are two 8×8″ canvas prints of Marconi Beach.  On the left is a 16×20″ print of a sand dune on Marconi Beach (also printed by Social Print Studio) in another Framatic Woodworks Gallery Frame.  I was curious to see what the barn grey wood looked like, and figured this was the perfect wall to experiment on.  

Because this wall sits along a hallway in a very open space,  the prints are most often seen from a side angle.  This is the perfect spot to showcase the 1.5″ wrapped sides of the canvases and the cool depth of the Framatic Woodworks frame.   Seriously, this has become my favorite wall in the entire house!

I had so much fun working on updating our main living space for the summer season.  It’s also great to have our wonderful honeymoon memories on display, I may have a hard time switching them out next season!  So what do you think?  Do you like my summer refresh?  How have you incorporated seasonal elements into your home?  For questions or design help for bringing your photographic memories to life – contact me.  I’d love to help you!