Finding inspiration from nature for holiday decorating

Heather Pollock Sehulster, owner of Conservatory Coastal Home, finds inspiration from Port Townsend’s nature and brings the outdoors inside when she decorates homes. 

Inspiration can be found in even the smallest things. Pinecones, for example.

“If I go on a walk in the fall, and I come across chestnuts or those teeny, tiny pinecones, or even if I’m walking around in the woods and find moss or lichen, I just bring it inside,” said Heather Pollock Sehulster, interior designer and owner of Conservatory Coastal Home. 

A lover of clean lines and minimalist design, Sehulster adds layers inside homes by going outside. 

“If I go on a beach walk, I joke about being ‘beach shopping,’ because I will get rocks and driftwood,” Sehulster said. “I very rarely leave the beach without a pocket full of something.”

Sehulster, whose shop locations are in Port Townsend and on Bainbridge Island, uses nature to inspire her interior design.

“The aesthetic that we have has a lot to do with bringing the outdoors in, looking outside during the seasonal changes and asking, ‘How do we transfer that inside?’ ” Sehulster said. 

Sehulster moved to Port Townsend 11 years ago and transformed her farmers market candle business into a home and commercial design business. In her shop at 639 Water St., she sells handmade scented candles, but she also transforms her environment into her design, bringing Port Townsend’s rustic, nautical vibe into people’s homes. 

“I opened my store to sell candles, and people would say, ‘I just want to live in here. Can you do this in my house?’ And I just started saying, ‘Yes,’ ” Sehulster said. 

Now, she does interior design for homes, commercial businesses and events, such as the Centrum Gala on Oct. 20. She also sells home goods and performs upholstering at her store, where her outdoor inspiration is evident. Sehulster sells air plants in terrariums filled with sand and driftwood, her own candles placed in a bowl of tiny pinecones, and warm textiles, like knits, velvets and sheepskin. 

“I tend to be more minimalist, and then I add a lot of layers," she said. "I like clean lines and modern design, but I don’t like the boring, everything’s gray-and-white-and-edgy thing. It’s about adding layers that fit the environment.”

Sehulster said interior design doesn’t have to be expensive. She also likes to use real plants in arrangements to incorporate seasonal changes, like adding succulents for summer, ferns for fall and pines for winter. When she wants a new plant inside her home, she’ll plant the old ones in her garden. 

And for a seasonal home makeover, Sehulster suggested using pillow case covers and throws. 

“Switching the arrangements and the pillow covers, it’s like a refresh, without having to redo your whole house,” she said. “It’s an inexpensive way to refresh for the seasons without it being thousands of dollars.” 

When it comes to holiday decorating, Sehulster suggested sticking to one color palette and working with those colors in your whole house. 

“A lot of people do this thing where they buy every single thing that they like and none of it matches,” she said. 

For fall, Sehulster bought green-and-white pumpkins to decorate her home. After Thanksgiving, she suggested making pumpkin pie and using a winter holiday theme. 

“I do do a lot of white and silver and gold, but it’s fun to do the red-and-green theme, too,” Sehulster said. “It’s really hard when you have kids like I do, and they have all the kindergarten ornaments from forever, and nothing matches. … But I’ve convinced them to have a little Christmas tree in their room, so I get to do my living room one, which has all white and silver and gold, and it has a theme. And then we still have the whole fun zone, too.”

Her other piece of holiday decorating advice is to not shy away from a bit of sparkle.

“When in doubt, add more lights,” she said. “I can’t get enough twinkly lights this time of the year.” 

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