A red, white, and blue color scheme makes decorating a breeze.
Spirited Decor
Blue checks, red stripes, flags, and shells join together for afresh, relaxed living room.

Looking for a relaxed feel that's also a lot of fun? Then use the beach cottage of Sally and David Smith for inspiration. The whole house is built around a red, white, and blue color scheme accented everywhere with nautical and shell details.

Sally and her daughter, Julia Crye, decorated the WaterColor, Florida, house together. "We thought the color scheme was perfect for a beach cottage, and it really was fun," says Sally.

Perfecting the Palette
In the living room, the red-and-white striped chairs started everything, then other pieces were added. With the primary color scheme in mind, the pair searched for unique furniture to fill the space. A faded blue armoire and red clock look antique, but they're new and only distressed to look old. "I didn't want to put precious furnishings in the house and have to worry," says Sally. A bold blue-and-white check chair adds to the mix, as does a variety of pillows in stripes, checks, and flag patterns.

The walls, trim, and simple window treatments are a bright white, reinforcing the fresh look. A practical sea grass rug dresses the hardwood floors. The overall feel is approachable; nothing is complicated or too serious. "You feel like you can sit down and put your feet up," says Julia.

Beach It Up
For the accessories, Julia says, "We went as beach as we could." Starfish and shells are placed throughout the rooms, and shells accent a variety of pieces--lamps, a mirror, and a small console table, among others. Sailboats float on several surfaces.

The cottage demonstrates that decorating doesn't need to be difficult. It can be a lot of fun, especially when you join hands with a loved one or friend.