You know you want a grotto...

  Hello all, I'm susie from eye spy. Today I’m mussing up all the D-C shiny and sleek and metallic and new by posting some old antiquish well-worn goodness.

I have grottos on my brain today. It began years ago when, upon meeting my future mother-in-law the first time, we small-talked for less than 5 minutes and she told me that her life would be complete if only she had her very own grotto. I had boat-bobbed in Capri’s touristy Blue Grotto a couple of years earlier. Back then I was niave in the ways of decor, I assumed my mother-in-law longed for a watery cave. But it was an elaborate garden folly that she has on her “to do before I die” list.


Poets build grottos as places for reflection. The devout build chapels based on grotto design. Some make miniatures of others. 

{ Above images via JPaul, spondle, + lowooley / Flickr }

When the shells ran low, mosaics were made with ceramics, glass, rock, crystals... well, anything. An it only looks more fabulous.

{ Above images via lovedaylemon, Kaptain Kobold, + dovolena s Andelem / Flickr }



And no grotto would be complete without a bust of Neptune. Or the Holy Mother. 


{ Neptune bust, Lois Macauley


The Pope has a centuries-old stone and shell grotto. The Playboy Mansion has a newish bulbous concrete grotto. Ariel has a fiberglass grotto. 


{ Photos: Papal grotto here }


So recently I brought up the grotto plans with my mother-in-law. She told me that now she’d rather have an indoor grotto (shoo, silly nature) and would now prefer a shell-embellished room or furniture. As long as it conformed to her more-is-more decor school of thought.

Crazy talented shell artist Blott Kerr-Wilson makes garden structures, houses, rooms, and furniture from shells. Many of which are restaurant discards. Her career was launched in 1993 when World of Interiors named her artist of the year.


How does one illuminate a shell room?  Oly Studios has a fabulous collection of shell lighting, but I prefer an Adam Wallacavage Octopus chandelier. 







Maybe you too would like a shell house, but you crave some bright and shiny. If your tastes run to the fantastic, here’s a nautilus house in Mexico City that might inspire you. 


{ Photo: dVice }


Though it looks like it might have washed up on some beach, The Shell House is deep in the forrest of Karuizawa, Japan. Designed by Artechnic, this double-elliptical vacation retreat was inspired by a conch shell.




What about furnishings? A little modern? Antique and ornate? For streamlined classics, there are Hans Wegner shell chairs. Or you might like the symmetry of the Nautilus Chair available here.


For the antique variety, 1st Dibs and ArtFour have gobs of grotto furniture. Be a seated Venus when you perch on the piano stool below. Fabulous. 

Golden baby putti, above, is saying that’s all folks. I’ll update you when my mother-in-law starts gluing on her shells. Thanks for dipping your toes in my grotto.