Island Hopping at Home

One of Bermuda’s Famous Pink Beaches

With its world-famous pink sand beaches, golf courses, and rich history as Great Britain’s first colony, Bermuda was also our family’s first island vacation in 1998.

My husband, daughter, and I explored Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Horseshoe Bay, the Children’s Aquarium, and Fort St. Catherine, all located between Hamilton and St. George on this gem of the Atlantic Ocean, about 700 miles due east of South Carolina.

Having saved our souvenir shopping for the last bittersweet morning, we strolled St. George’s cobblestone streets until we came across an art gallery, the Carole Holding Studio. Little did we know our decision to purchase three of this local artist’s landscape prints was the beginning of a conversion–of the decor kind. At the time, my husband and I were more concerned the souvenirs fit into our budget and our luggage than into our traditional-style home.

Island Art

Back from our adventure, we bought frames for our lithographs and hung them in our living room. There the island souvenirs hung, more treasured as the years passed. Today, they are complemented by a new shade of wall paint, joined by Key West watercolors and a pretty Hawaiian shell windchime.

Subsequent jaunts to the Bahamas, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula brought even more inexpensive yet whimsical Caribbean art into our lives. Various prints, metal artwork, handpainted plates, photographs, miniature sculptures, and a few touristy plaques flow into the foyer, den, and upstairs into the second-floor hallway. Sure, we could cheat and buy tropical accents online. But they really wouldn’t be souvenirs then, would they?

A Dutch Delft – St. Maarten

Last year, we were fortunate to remodel our master bedroom. Instead of selecting a paint color or desired flooring as I have in the past, I requested a theme:  Key West. (Thank goodness my husband adores the place as much as I do.)

The resulting room is all I’d imagined. I wake each morning to an airy, casual island ambiance–in my own suburban town! I savor those first few minutes of the day as I transition smoothly from dream world to reality, gazing at blue walls with white trim and plantation shutters. Our old brown nightstands and dressers are now pale yellow, graced by seashell-filled lamps and a few of our favorite getaway photos. We like the effect so much we plan to do the same for our master bath.

Key West Themed Bedroom

On cold, winter days, my house’s Caribbean style brings forth memories of warm island breezes, flip-flop days, and life-giving sun. In the summer, it urges me to stop cleaning (“No worries” right?) and to slip into a swimsuit, grab a beach read, and enjoy our backyard pool. If only for a little while.

Our Resident Parrot

I’m also a fan of Tuscan-style kitchens, adore spa-inspired bathrooms, and anything by Pottery Barn. How about you? What item, room, or part of your home is your hidden oasis in the midst of a busy life? Is it a particular theme you consciously developed or an environment you created organically? If you don’t have a tranquil place within your home, what do you dream of creating?

One of Many Geckos


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patricia Yager Delagrange
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 11:57:01

    Jolyse, that is so cool that you created such a soothing ambience for your home. I loved the way you described how you can enjoy all those “warm” memories in the middle of a cold winter’s day! We added on an entire section to our home which is bright no matter the season and I love that. Even during the winter time I can look out and see the clouds and the brightness. It is my “go to” room and where I do all my writing.
    Thanks for the post.

  2. Alica
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 13:24:16

    Such a beautiful place! My bedroom is a bit of a sanctuary- but with so many kids every where no place is really safe. LOL

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 11, 2011 @ 16:20:53

      Hi Alica,

      Yeah, kids can make finding rest and quiet difficult at times. Some days I pray for that moment when my cherubs are asleep. Have a great week!

  3. Catie Rhodes
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 13:54:59

    Oh, I love your blue walls in your Key West room! Beautiful, beautiful decor choices. See, I don’t like all the reds and dark browns that have become the “in” colors to paint your house. I like bright, happy colors like you have.

    My oasis in my house is my “antiques.” They aren’t really antiques, per se. The technical name would probably be vintage. My pieces range from the 1930s through the 1950s. I choose them carefully, and each piece has a hum–a vibe. My house sort of has an emotional glow from the antiques.

    Thanks for the cool blog post. I gotta say I envy your vacations. Very cool places to go. I like the beach, too. There’s something about, isn’t there?

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 11, 2011 @ 16:18:11

      Hi Catie,

      I get what you’re saying about your vintage pieces having vibes. I love older homes with character, and that goes for the items within them, too. Your home sounds like a lovely oasis.

      As for our vacations, we have made them a priority. We drive our cars into the ground, rarely eat out, and save, save, save, for those getaways. We’re fortunate, too, to have relatives willing and able to watch our kids so we get that much-needed break once a year.

      Nothing beats the beach, except maybe mountains in autumn. 🙂

  4. Patty
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 22:30:57

    OMG, so gorgeous! I’ve never been there and must now go.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 12, 2011 @ 12:05:39

      Hi Patty!

      Bermuda?? Yes, it’s incredible, especially if you’re a beach lover. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but people who have been to both say that Bermuda is similar to Hawaii.

      I’m really excited about visiting Bermuda next summer, after all these years of meaning to return. Have a terrific week!:)

  5. Escape to Key West
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 22:32:58

    Love the idea of a Key West color-themed room Jolyse! I’m making a vanity mirror for a Day of the Deadthemed bathroom. Wonder if I should use KW colors as the base color for the frame…hmmmm…you’ve given me an idea. After painting the frame, I will adorn it with bottle caps from 400,000 miles of travels (and a few from KW too)!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 12, 2011 @ 11:50:29

      Very cool idea for the mirror! Happy I served as your color-inspiration fairy. 🙂

      I’d love to see a photo of your finished product, too. Enjoy!

  6. Rhonda Hopkins
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 22:48:33

    What a beautiful and vibrant room! And what a fun trip. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  7. Jennette Marie Powell
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 23:44:33

    Your decorating is gorgeous! I tried to do the “sanctuary” thing for my study, where I write, but my husband had other plans (i.e., a TV in the room). But at least I got my teal walls – there’s something about those “sea” colors, isn’t there? And thank goodness for headphones. 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 12, 2011 @ 12:02:14

      I adore teal! I agree with you…must be the ocean colors. As a teen, I painted my bedroom teal after spending months of work convincing my parents that was really what I wanted. In fact, I painted my children’s bath that color, too. We added tropical fishies (painted wooden ones) from KW along one wall. LOVE IT!!

      I write at my kitchen table, in the middle of all the chaos. The only time it really bothers me is when I’m attempting to write an “adult” scene. Some things just require privacy. 😉 I like the idea of headphones. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  8. Tuere Morton
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 11:52:55

    The island’s beautiful! I agree with Patty and MUST add Bermuda to my list of destinations. Thanks for sharing with us! 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 14, 2011 @ 15:09:56

      Thanks for stopping by, Tuere!

      Yes, Bermuda is romantic, but also family-friendly. The snorkling was incredible, with clear, calm waters off its shores.

      We’ve chosen to cruise there, since Bermuda lodging and meals can be pricy. That way, we enjoy much of what it has to offer but stay within our means.

      I’d love to hear about your travel experiences, too. (I’m infected with the travel-bug if you hadn’t guessed. 🙂 )

  9. Debora Dale
    Jul 17, 2011 @ 09:13:54

    I so love the way you’ve incorporated your experiences into your living space and have not given in to online shopping. The memories attached to your collection are what make it extra special. And, by reading your descriptions, I can almost smell the warm salty air. 🙂

    My oasis is my bedroom. It’s Moroccan style with flowing curtains, rosewater scents, muted shades of purple with splashes of vibrate ‘spice’ colors. The lighting is not Moroccan, though. It’s more ‘boudoir’ – with beading on the corset-style shades. But I love that room – morning and night. It’s my escape and my retreat for when I write.

    Another great post that transported me somewhere new.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 17, 2011 @ 10:40:57

      Hi Debora,

      Thanks for stopping by! Your bedroom sounds heavenly. I especially like how you included rosewater. I’ll have to add some “Ocean Breeze” candles to mine to complete the effect in my KW room. 🙂

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