Sea Room

With its 70's era brown paneling, this room needed help. Not wanting to use any old cheap covering gave the author an idea: Why not use some of his old sails on these ugly walls?

A room with a view.

A room with a view.Jeff Carlton

I should live on the ocean-but I don't. I don't even live on the lake where my vintage Pacific Seacraft waits for attention and action. This isn't good.

Seasickness for me isn't what water does to me so much as it's how a lack of it withers my spirit. To survive, I talk to sailors, plan, and execute projects and read all I can about sailing. During one long watch of the soul, I took it a step further by turning a guest room in my house into a little piece of the ocean.

With its 70s era brown paneling, this room needed help. Not wanting to use the cheap covering gave me an idea: Why not use some of my old sails on these ugly walls?

After removing the trim and painting the paneling white, I stapled the sails to the walls. With some experimentation, I realized the best effect was to show off the sails' hardware. Instead of simple white panels, I had sail numbers, grommets, jib hanks, main slides, tell-tales, headboards, battens, and leech lines flying high. Pre-painted 1' by 4's worked well for the new trim. The only bummer was that I simply couldn't get these baggy sails tight on the walls.

As nice as this looked, something was still missing. An hour later, I'd tacked the paper charts to the ceiling. I'd never considered storing and displaying them at the same time.

Now for the test: Looking up from the bed, pencil marks in the charts swept me back-to two weeks in the Florida Keys, to a failed crossing of the Gulf Stream, and to an anchorage in the port city of Mobile Bay, Alabama. This time machine was an unexpected bonus.

There was just one more thing. Imagine my surprise when the ceiling fan's Force 1 breeze moved those loose sails and even lifted the telltales. The swirling air also worked its magic on the charts. Was it my imagination or was the blue water coming alive?

Excuse me while I trim the back wall.