Decorating Your Beach House, Or Your Lake House, With Pillows


Recently I won a pillow. From Pink Oyster Designs, via Maya at Daily Vitamin Sea. Thank you Maya, thank you Pink Oyster. Isn’t winning wonderful?

I entered because I found the initialed pillow she offered to be quite classic, and summer house-ish. I like initials. Probably all that early training in monograms. High WASPs do like their monograms. (I like summer too, which is icumen-in round here.) These are also pillows-in-good-conscience, as they are made from recycled sails. High WASPs like a good conscience, these days.

After I found out I had won, but before any choosing of letters, my stepfather got sick. He’s a long time sailor, around islands in the Swedish Archipelago, and now in the Santa Barbara harbor. It seemed like a good thing to have the pillow made for him, and then order another one for my mother. So that’s what I did. They arrived in the middle of the chaos of my stepfather’s recovery.


Not the one I won, but similar

I asked my mother for her product review. Mom’s good at assessing stuff. She says the pillows have a nice texture, like really good linen paper, and are sewn in attractive zig-zag stitching. These are 12 inch pillows with 10 inch letters, so big, and bold. In Santa Barbara, you would put these out on your porch, or around the pool. They are more sophisticated than preppy, says Mom. I didn’t ask her how she defines preppy, these days. So let’s take that as preppy in the 1940′s. The pillows are not quaint, but graphic. The ultimate compliment? They are very “good looking.” If my sister is reading, she’s laughing. Tell me you don’t laugh at certain family phrases.

Mom also says they would been really good for her parent’s house in Tolland, Massachussets, at the Tunxis Fish and Game Club, or up in Maine, on one of those hanging canvas swings that everyone had.


Not the actual house, but similar, from that era
Or maybe for the family house on Cape Cod. It was large, 3-storey, covered in gray shingles, with a long gravel driveway out front. Since we lived in Northern California, we didn’t spend much time there. Still, I remember it very well. The smell of sun on dune grass, and the way it whips your legs. Splinters in our fingers from the gray wood, and the way the spiky lawn pricked our feet. The laundry shed, and the crack of sheets drying on a line. Chintz and wicker chairs on the back porch, grownups drinking, croquet, and the ocean just over there. Almost like a cartoon, except it was real.

There must have been pillows.

One summer we spent enough time on the Cape that my mother signed us up for the Wianno Yacht Club’s summer program. I was 12, old enough to take sailing lessons, young enough to have no idea of the connotations of a yacht club. It felt just like any other place where kids are taught activities, and lunch can be bought at a snack bar. The teachers put us, two at a time, into little boats and sent us sailing out in the harbor, alone. For the last night, we sailed, all of us, out to a sandbar and they fed us pancakes, made from batter kept in the water to stay cold. Little fish swarmed around the container, nibbling. We seemed so far from shore. But I digress.


Not the exact view from Mom’s house, but nearby. Similar. Sometimes approximate is all we get.

The Santa Barbara beach down the hill from my mother’s house now smells like petroleum, just under the scent of tropical flowers and salt ocean. We take beach tar off our feet when we return, sitting on a bench outside the front door, surrounded by sand on tile, baskets of shovels, and the skin of little wet children. The sun is shining. We, the women, know the children are probably hungry and plan food, urgently, over their heads. Pillows or no pillows. Everything I say is true. I am not sure if it matters.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Images:
Pink Oyster Designs
Arroyo Burro from y3t39′s photostream on Flickr
Tolland Tunxis Club Image Museum

28 Comments

  • 03/19/10
    7:32 am

    Reply

    materfamilias said...

    Sometimes the past really does seem like another country, doesn't it. . . Lovely post, lovely pillows. We live at the beach in a much more modest home than you describe (and I seem to remember you'd call it "house" rather than "home") in a far less fashionable location, but you remind me how lucky I am to have been able to give my children such memories (my son did the sailing lessons, altho' we aren't yacht club members) . . . and soon my granddaughter will be storing hers up. Also made me think it's almost time to switch over the pumpkin velveteen curtains to the white linen-cotton ones. And maybe pick up some new, more summer-y pillows. Thanks for telling you truth — matters to me . . .

  • 03/19/10
    7:32 am

    Reply

    materfamilias said...

    "your" truth, not "you" truth!

  • 03/19/10
    7:58 am

    Reply

    Maureen@IslandRoar said...

    I love the images this brings up. All very familiar. The sailing, the sand, the gray shingles.
    I need summer.

  • 03/19/10
    8:12 am

    Reply

    hostess of the humble bungalow said...

    Vintage images and memories….family history.
    Kind of a magical, as children we are oblivious of these fibres that weave together the fabric of our lives.
    Your post this morning resonates with me.

  • 03/19/10
    8:29 am

    Reply

    Deja Pseu said...

    I love the images your words evoke. They're the memories my imaginary self would have.

  • 03/19/10
    8:31 am

    Reply

    JMW said...

    Great summer memories! Love the pillow! I may have to have a couple for my "summer" house, which is also my winter, spring and fall house. ;)

  • 03/19/10
    9:23 am

    Reply

    Jill said...

    I can remember playing in the sand in Galveston…coming home and being covered in tar…such a shame.

    But, lakehouses! Such great memories. I'm very fortunate that my Grandparent's had one while I grew up and my parent's have one now. I fantasize of retiring there someday…so quiet, peaceful and freeing.

  • 03/19/10
    9:43 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Thank you mater, for saying it matters to you. Thank you very much. Deja now I'm wondering where my imaginary self might have lived…

    I like all your memories of houses by the water, long ago or recent, or still to be.

  • 03/19/10
    9:44 am

    Reply

    Jan said...

    I'm not a "pillow person" – they seem like clutter to me (and the dog would just lay all over them).

    Perhaps it's a good thing I don't have a beach house…

  • 03/19/10
    9:57 am

    Reply

    The Daily Connoisseur said...

    Great pillow… I have been thinking of pillows recently. Primarily because we are in desperate need of some new ones for our sofa. Right now I have these wonderful chocolate colored faux fur pillows that are delightfully soft and look luxurious, but they are losing their shape and are starting to look matted… ugh.

  • 03/19/10
    10:56 am

    Reply

    metscan said...

    What a wonderful post starting with the pillow, a simple object, which builds up to a memory story, yes, a vintage memory story. Thank you!

  • 03/19/10
    11:00 am

    Reply

    DocP said...

    This post evokes memories of summers in Jamestown, RI with a college friend. I wonder if I'm to old to learn to sail?

  • 03/19/10
    11:09 am

    Reply

    Plus Size Bride said...

    I love those pillows..not sure I can convince the husband to love them as well. I will continue to live vicariously through all of you.

  • 03/19/10
    12:05 pm

    Reply

    Belle de Ville said...

    Lovely post, it brings up memories of growing up in Brookline and the times I spent on the lakes of New Hampshire, the bay of Marblehead and the shore at Cape Cod. That was such a different kind of life than what my Southern California kids grew up with. I remember sailing in small boats and jumping waves in a boston whaler and they have memories of a beach club with surfing and beach volleyball.

  • 03/19/10
    12:35 pm

    Reply

    Renie Burghardt said...

    Well, I don't have a beach house, but do have a quaint log cabin on a beautiful river, where we hang out most of the spring, summer and fall. And instead of sailing, I like to jet ski. But I enjoyed your post, and will spruce up the cabin with some new rustic looking pillows, for certain.

    Happy weekend!

    Renie

  • 03/19/10
    12:59 pm

    Reply

    Elle said...

    What a lovely post, it has me craving the salt of the sea on my lips, and moments of time frozen as the sun sinks over the horizon…

  • 03/19/10
    1:52 pm

    Reply

    Deja Pseu said...

    Speaking of monograms, have you seen this monogrammable (?) bracelet from Lands End?

    http://tinyurl.com/yzkvf3j

  • 03/19/10
    3:36 pm

    Reply

    the Preppy Princess said...

    We love our pillows here at the Prepatorium, so you can imagine how much we enjoyed this post. Our fondness may stem, at least in part, from the fact that I love making them, a small way of splashing a bit of color and/or personality.

    The old postcard is splendid, we have quite a collection from the place where we summered for generation after generation. (We also have a liking for old postcards… can you see where this is going?)

    At any rate, the post is wonderful Miss LPC. May your weekend be even better!
    tp

  • 03/19/10
    6:55 pm

    Reply

    Lily Lemontree said...

    What a lovely post, could almost smell the sea air. Thanks for sharing!
    (Oh, and the pillows sound great too!)
    Have a great weekend!

  • 03/20/10
    7:23 am

    Reply

    Beth Dunn said...

    Love decorating with all things nautical and since I live at the beach it works out pretty nicely! xoxo
    SC

  • 03/20/10
    11:00 am

    Reply

    Maya said...

    I hope they both like the pillows -I can't quite tell. Thanks for linking!!

  • 03/20/10
    11:18 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Elle, what a lovely comment. Deja, I hadn't seen that. It's very classic. I'm just addicted to 14K and no plate. I would try to get over that silliness but it feels too late at this point. Beth, I think a couple of these pillows would be great for the Preppy Mafia. And Maya, yes, they liked them. That's High WASP speak for they liked them:).

  • 03/20/10
    2:42 pm

    Reply

    Faux Fuchsia said...

    Ok maybe I am a WASP- the house is filled with pillows (which in Australia we call cushions) and everything is monogrammed and engraved with my initials!!!!!! Stationary, silver, linen. Meanwhile pls provide WASP definition ! x

  • 03/22/10
    9:26 am

    Reply

    Joyce Lau said...

    There are many reasons I like your blog. One of them is that — weirdly — it gives me a sense of deja vu from my Connecticut childhood. Weird because we are total strangers living on the opposite ends of the world.

    My childhood memories are fainter than other peoples', because we've moved so much and I now have no family (and few friends) near where I grew up.

    Anyway, I forgot all about Tolland until this photo. My violin teachers — a lovely older couple — had a summer home in Tolland and they were proud of their real wood-beam ceiling. They said they felt calm looking at it.

    Ahhh. I feel calm thinking about it.

    Oh, minor point. I was trying to get back to my blog from your blog, and realized the link was slightly off. Would you mind changing so it's my new URL? http://joyceyland.blogspot.com/

    Thanks again for the lovely posts!

  • 03/22/10
    12:26 pm

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    I have a whole slew of bags made from old sails and now it appears I want some pillows!

    Maybe I'll make them spell something nauti ;-)

  • 03/23/10
    4:55 pm

    Reply

    Anonymous said...

    So beautiful, I can really picture it! Even though I am far from a high WASP (for one thing, I grew up in India). Your writing transcends cultures.

  • 03/25/10
    12:04 pm

    Reply

    Caroline, No. said...

    I very much enjoyed reading this post.

  • 04/03/10
    3:24 pm

    Reply

    50sgal said...

    We have a Cape house and hubby and I, after our move back from Boston, our now currently living in it. It will remain full time until the time when we are ready to return to the 'Hill' (Boston) It is tiny, built in 1710 and in 'lovely disarry' which means, the old shingle roof is rotting (needs to be redone) everything lists to port (you do feel as if you are on a ship) and though not on the water, are a bike's ride away and can hear the 'fog horn' at night. The Cape is a lovely place, as are the islands.

Post a Comment

I thoroughly enjoy your comments. If you find this form is broken, my apologies. Please email me and I will rage against the machine.

required
required but will not be displayed
optional