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Patti Cowger

Whenever clients ask me what my favorite style is, I can’t really answer – for two reasons. One is that I like many styles and the other is that my favorite style should not influence what I create for clients. My role is to deliver their favorite, not mine.

But today, I am disclosing — for another two reasons. It’s an opportunity for a bit of self-reflection. Why do I like what I like? (And, why do you like what you like?) I suppose I’ve haven’t written about this style in the past because we live in wine country, not on the coast.

There you have it. Yes, if I had to choose one and only one favorite style, it would be coastal. But what is coastal, exactly? Different coasts trigger different images depending on the location. In California, we have a mix of coastal temperatures, moods and styles from Mendocino to Malibu. Then there are coasts in Mexico, Morocco, Madagascar, Monaco, Manila, Maine, and Maui. Before I run out of “M”s, you get my drift. The truth is, I like all of these coasts and more. But why?

Have you ever wondered why you’re drawn to one style over another? Did your childhood home, a vacation or other travels influence your preferences? Maybe it’s part of your heritage or education. Or maybe your leaning was formulated after learning about a designer, architect, or historical period in time. I used to think that my favorite style came from my love of the sun and sea. I thought being born in July, a fired-ruled triple-Leo with large doses of water signs in my horoscope, had some impact on my comfort zone.

Who knows? It could also be that I’m a little claustrophobic. What do you think of when you think of coasts? Wide, open spaces. The infinite sky and distant horizon. Coastal style exudes openness, sunlight, and a convergence of the indoors with the outdoors.

A coastal color palette is easy to envision. White sand and shades of aqua and turquoise from both the water and the sky. There are also splashes of oranges, reds, and purples in sunsets, and pinks and yellows in seashells and coral. As I look around my own house, I see white upon white, accents of sunset colors, and a master bedroom in white and turquoise with motifs reminiscent of Santorini, Greece.

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I also have a Moroccan-tiled fireplace and other Moroccan accessories like lanterns, pillows and rugs. Before you conclude that the coasts I must really be drawn to are Mediterranean, let me say that my largest rug is dark brown seagrass. But this makes sense given my collections of sea shells and succulents. How do succulents fit into all this self-analysis? They come from my long walks in Sausalito on the back side facing the ocean in Tennessee Valley. It’s another coastline even though it doesn’t start with the letter “M.”

In nearly 30 years, I’ve designed every style imaginable for clients. But this summer baby is always personally drawn to coastal sun, sand, and sea. If you do your own self-analysis to discover why you like the style that you do, send me an email. I’d love to hear your story.

Patti L Cowger is a credentialed, award-winning Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net. Demystifying Design appears every other Saturday.

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