Shells, Part II

You may remember the Shells, Part I post from a few weeks ago where I was looking for inspiring ways to display my shell collection in a non-beachy way. I asked readers to leave comments with suggestions and not only did some great ideas come my way, but also photos too. The above photo was sent to me by reader and interior designer, Sue Murphy ( This is a display Sue created for a client and the image really knocked my socks off. It's a brilliant idea to pile large shells in an antiqued wire urn. The urn has a classic shape, gives some height to the arrangement and lets one see the color and texture of each shell. This is gorgeous and definitely a departure from the beachy look.

Here's another photo from Sue Murphy of the same home and it also has a decidedly French feel. Shells are piled high into a silver bowl on a silver tray, surrounded by old books and candles. A huge French trumeau reflects the vignette and tops an elaborately carved console. I love everything about this image and the soft coral colored accent wall and iron lantern contribute to the vintage French feel.
A close-up of the photo above. If this is a small area of the house, the rest of the home is sure to be just as beautiful and detailed. Maybe Sue will fill us in (hint, hint)!

This image is stored in my "The One That Got Away" file. A pretty silver tray like this that I saw on ebay would be an elegant way to display a collection of shells, don't you think?
Sue also shared this photo of shells in a concrete urn from her own kitchen. Such a classic look!

Here's a more holiday type of display for shells, but this could work year round too. A French gilt console with a black lacquered top holds topiary, lamps and shells in glass vessels. This is the home of Luce Gayrard and was featured in the November 2008 issue of Canadian House and Home (photo by Angus McRitchie).

A close-up of the above image. The glass urn in the background is so versatile for displaying shells, flowers or Christmas ornaments. Again, I like how the individual shells can be seen through the glass and the black accents of the console and lamp shades really set off the pale colors of the shells. Beautiful.

When looking for over-the-top elegant inspiration, I always turn to Veranda Magazine. There's a lot to see in this photo of Kay O'Toole's former home in the April 2007 issue. But, my point is that although most of the elements in this room may be unattainable for most of us--the antique chairs and French Aubusson rug, among other things--anyone can find an old metal urn and fill it with shells for a pretty display. I plan to try this for my dining table this summer and put flowers elsewhere in the room for a change of pace.
Lastly, here's a photo of a table in my home with coral and a small sample of my shell collection.
I hope you enjoyed this post about displaying shells and please let me know if you have any other ideas or images to share.
Happy Shelling!


  1. Thanks for giving me a mention. I would love to share the pictures of the rest of the house. It has been an on going project for 4 years, from the ground up. It is one of the most spectacular projects I have had the privilege of working on. It just needs a few more tweaks and it will be ready for it's debut.

  2. Love the photos and kind of wishing I'd sent you some pictures to back up my big mouth comment about spreading shells all around! Yours are lovely and I realize I may be a little weird in how I mix so many things together. I especially love the antique wire urn full of shells!

  3. I have my shells in a glass vase but after seeing this post, I am going to try to find a french wire urn. I love the idea and it's such a classic way to showcase your shells. The idea of a silver bowl is brilliant too. And your table looks stunning.

  4. Hi Deborah,

    What a beautiful home and design. I love the shells in the urn. But I must say I LOVE your arrangement. I just took my shells off the silver tray and put them into a big blue and white bowl. Maybe I'll take a pic and post it. I've been playing around with all my blue and white ever since I went to the Red Rooster.


  5. Hi Deb, this is a lovely post. So so nice to see all the different ways of the shells. I love that round-table room, adore it. Excellent post today, lovie.

  6. Deborah, all gorgeous ideas to elevate the perfect, but sometimes misunderstood seashell. I love that wire urn. Thanks for sharing - I have lots of ideas now, as I tend to shy away from shells too but now I can embrace them. xo Terri

  7. Beautiful images. I have always loved the tablescape from Veranda with the tapestry throw. Lot's of good ideas

  8. Oh how I can't wait for my kids to be older so I can put my shells out (amongst other things) with out them getting smashed by little fingers. -Actually, they can stay cute & little... Eventually I'll have my shells out, and plenty of sleepless nights to go with them when they're older.
    The trade off I guess.
    Beautiful images!

  9. Hi there! You're a girl after my own heart. Love-love-love the shells. I've got them all over the place in my island home -- even used some small ones as cabinet pulls in my bathroom. ha. Lovely. So glad I know you're here. I'll be back! best, -susan

  10. I like how you can see the shells through the sides of the wire and glass urns. But then I'd have to have more shells! As it is, I've been playing around with stuffing the bottoms of my urns and bowls so that my meager collection of shells fills up the top. Haven't quite got it down yet though. Thanks so much for all this inspiration.

  11. I really love your arrangement of the shells... beautiful - the wire urn one is so great too - these are wonderful ideas - thank you..x

  12. You're table looks great.

    After I left my last comment I started noticing the different way's I'm using shells in my house. I have a big clam? in my entry that holds my keys. I have different shell on my bedside table that I use as a tray for rings or anything else I throw down there. I also have a huge piece of coral on my book shelf in my living room. I wouldn't describe my look as beachy at all--I just love elements of nature.

  13. Great post.
    I'm fortunate that I live near the beach and don't need to worry if my shells look too beachy!
    The best shell display that I've seen so far was in Atlanta at Linda Horsley antiques. She uses antique shells that have the most amazing patina. I did a post about it:


  14. The shells are beautiful and your displays are perfect. Really like this post. Inspiring and very well done.

  15. I love them all. Sue has some great containers for shells, but I really really love your display! It is truly beautiful!
    Lila Ferraro
    Queen Bedroom Sets

  16. What a beautiful post! So glad I found you, I love your blog!

  17. these images are all so pretty. love shells and anything reminiscent of the sea/sand. xo

  18. We have ALOT in common... :)
    We both have the same first name, both like bees (or bee-things), hydrangeas, shells, decorating.... :)
    Love your blog..Im your newest follower (purehunnybee)
    come and visit :)

    With all my heart...Deborah


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