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Ship Ahoy! The Nautical Touch in Your Outdoor Living Space

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Would you rather be sailing or are you strictly a shore bird? Whether you're land-locked or seaside, you can create a nautical look in your outdoor living space by following a few easy principles. You'll find that even landlubbers can answer the siren song of the sea.

Although any outside space can be adapted to this motif, wooden decks are particularly suitable. And if you can manage to install a water feature so that the deck overhangs it, you'll increase the "on-board" feel. Be sure to include the following elements.


For a real yacht-club feel, think navy, as in uniforms. Not only does navy recall the color of the ocean at night, paired with cream accents and brass "buttons", it looks as classy as a ship's captain. You can also add red accents for additional color.


Make cushions of canvas or canvas-like fabric. For a trim nautical look, edge thick square cushions in contrasting rope piping. Blue and white striped mattress ticking also makes great throw cushions.

Use sailcloth or awning fabric for drapes. Trim them with navy stripes and hang with grommets on brass curtain rods.

Rope's nautical texture can be incorporated in a number of ways. Lay a jute mat on the floor, wrap rope around a plant pot, use rope tie-backs on outdoor draperies, display rope-handled baskets or simply pile a coil of rope in a corner.


Ship-board fixtures are often made of sleek, highly varnished wood and always make the most of available space. Replicate the look on your deck with built-in benches. As a bonus, build storage units under the seats.

For additional portable seating, use wooden and canvas deck chairs or captain's stools.


Brass ship lanterns, of course! Although originals are collectibles, there are many attractive reproductions available. Use a traditional oil-burning unit or opt for a candle-lit look.


The easiest way to carry a nautical theme is with the use of ship-board motifs such as anchors, barometers, weather vanes, sandglasses and seaman's chests. Other useful motifs for an outdoor space include boat pennants, oars and models or images of sailboats.

Choose one or two and collect them in various materials. Or re-create a ship's deck by acquiring one of each kind and displaying them in realistic positions throughout your space.

Put your deck in ship-shape this summer, listen to snap of the canvas in the wind and dream on of the high seas.

Debbie Rodgers, the haven maven, owns and operates Paradise Porch, and is dedicated to helping people create outdoor living spaces that nurture and enrich them. Her latest how-to guide “Attracting Butterflies to Your Home and Garden” is now available on her web site. Visit her at www.paradiseporch.com and get a free report on “Eight easy ways to create privacy in your outdoor space”. Mail to debbie@paradiseporch.com.


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