Decorating with a light touch

by Rebecca Jerdee


The first step to uncomplicating your life just may be to uncomplicate your decorating. Sure, it sounds too good to be true, until you visit the Delaware cottage of Laura Burrows-Jackson and her husband Michael Jackson, where decorating--and life--have a certain breezy quality.

Some houses embody such character that giving them a name seems the thing to do. Obligingly, the Jacksons came up with a fitting one for their soulful, 60-year-old place: "No Problem." Here, in what started as a primitive squatter's house, design style and lifestyle are one. The guiding philosophy of both is simple: Have a little faith in fun.

An interior designer, Laura wanted to bring hassle-free simplicity into her home's design, in both appearance and function. She began by establishing an easy palette drawn from the most basic of elements: the sun, sea, and sky. Sparkling yellow and vivid blue fabrics are kept in check by white paint doused over walls, ceilings, and floorboards, some of which are the humble pine from squatter days. She says, "I love the simple cheerfulness of yellow, white, and blue."

The main color-bearers are easy-care cotton fabrics in splashy stripes and mini-prints, along with a smattering of yellow-and-blue plates and affordable poster art. The home's accessories are few in number but bold in scale. As a result, they shore up the interior personality rather than water down the design with a lot of little things. In the master bedroom, for instance, a trio of parrot prints has enough strength of character to stand in for a headboard.

Taking her decorating cues exclusively from the cottage's salty surroundings--and beginnings--helps Laura keep the look simple. Even in newly added rooms such as the master bath, beadboard pays tribute to the construction of the original cottage while amenities such as a large soaking tub and access to a small adjoining sundeck bring it into the present.

In some cases, the furnishings not only nod to the home's past, but were part of it. The wicker chairs found throughout the cottage were original to the house and sold with it "They were in terrible condition, but it was worth it for me to have them repaired and painted," says Laura, who values the wicker's classic, carefree look as well as its link to the past.

Carefree and connected neatly sums up the Jacksons' style. Proof rests in this tiny upstairs guest room, which gets its character from affordable and findable elements: bright bedding, a few artful accents, and a classic quilt. All in all, this cottage illustrates just how easy decorating can be. In fact, it seems to be no problem at all.