Into the Blue

Decorating maven Phoebe Howard provides a sneak peek into her new book, Coastal Blues

The blues of the sea and the sky have informed the worldview of Phoebe Howard since she was a child. “I spent most of my childhood playing on the beach—that was our playground,” says the interior design maven, shop owner and author of the newly released decorating tome, Coastal Blues (Abrams, $35). “It’s a color I never tire of and always feel inspired by. Particularly when I can pair it with ivory or sand colors that remind me of the shoreline.”

Indeed, through Howard’s eye, casual elegance meets sophisticated ease, which is revealed through several sea-inspired residences in Coastal Blues. “Mrs. Howard,” as she is often referred to, divides the book into seven distinct color palettes, from Ocean Mist and Sea Glass (pale blue and brilliant blue schemes) to Indigo Bay and Trade Winds (true blue schemes). Each chapter concludes with paint-color suggestions, including hues similar to the projects featured, as well as suggested pairings—hues that will highlight, accent or contrast well with her nuanced tones, from ivories and beiges to peaches and sunny shades.

“Blue is one of the only colors that has so many different shades and nuances,” Howard says. “Blue and white is a color combination that never loses its appeal, and it remains fresh. You can pair indigo blue with khaki, turquoise with coral, royal blue with emerald green, or navy with red or bright yellow.”

In her book, Howard—who, along with husband, James Michael Howard, also co-owns the successful multicity furniture and accessories showrooms Mrs. Howard and Max & Company—goes beyond mastering the coastal blue palette, and delves into hardworking lifestyle advice, too, from setting the perfect waterfront table for entertaining, to the necessary components for creating a good old-fashioned game area in your home and the essentials for creating a restful (but still light-filled) bedroom.

And which shade of blue, if you’re curious, does Howard naturally gravitate to? “A very pale blue, a color that has a little green and a little gray in it,” she admits. “I find this color happy and uplifting; peaceful and soothing.” But, in true Howard style, that penchant won’t keep her from taking bolder risks: “I would love to do a turquoise-and-white tented room. I just need to find the right client!”

Phoebe Howard, Mr.s Howard & Max & Company (904) 214-1980;

Coastal Blues: Mrs. Howard’s Guide to Decorating with the Colors of the Sea and Sky (Abrams, $35). The lavishly illustrated tome is filled with never-before-published images that reflect the ease and casual elegance of shoreline living, as depicted through seven different sea- and sky-inspired color palettes, on 272 pages. Buy it here.