Bass decorated the living room of a classic brick colonial near the Severn River, selecting straight-armed sofas with nail-head details and Taylor King swivel chairs. Pillows in solid blue, damask and plaid impart style as well as comfort. © Geoffrey Hodgdon

Ask the Pros: Interior Design

Advice on decorating a home by the bay

How do you design a waterfront home to evoke its setting without being overdone or trite? 

The key is to bring a waterfront feel to space without being too cute about it. First, I rely on plump, comfortable, inviting upholstered pieces that are an invitation to sit awhile, relax and enjoy the view. Soft blues and greens really bring the outdoors in. I like to decorate with shells and coral for texture—maybe a bowl of them, or a larger one on top of a stack of coffee-table books. But I tend to steer clear of fabrics that are overtly “beachy”—patterns with flip-flops and beach umbrellas, for example. I might use one accent pillow with a coral motif, but that’s it!

—Julie Bass, Julie Bass Interiors, Severna Park, Maryland