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She sells seashells: A vintage stylist explains how to work the shell motif into your home and fashion looks

Understanding the new wave of this timeless trend.

Understanding the new wave of this timeless trend

(Source: Instagram/@makemovesvintage)

It's no secret that I have a bit of an obsession with shells, so when I was tasked with rounding up my favourite shell shaped motifs, I dove right in. Shell-shaped decor had its last big resurgence in the 80s and before that in the art deco trends of the early 1920s. But the shell motif has appeared in decorative design since Greco-Roman times — from temples to cathedrals to English gardens to Quaker cabinets. As they say, everything comes back around — and the tide has brought shells back once again. 

I think right off the bat it's important to note that the shell trend I am referring to is not a coastal or nautical trend. We're not talking about conch shells and embroidered cottage pillows — not things with shells on them, though there's a way to make that work this summer — but rather scallop shell-shaped lamps, bookends, headboards and the like. Read on for a few of my favourite shell-motif items to inspire your home and fashion looks.

I created a velvet shell headboard for my own shop at Make Moves Vintage. This headboard holds a special place in my heart, as it was the first original design I released just over a year ago. Available in a range of velvety hues, this shell-shaped headboard can be played up in an adult bedroom or really fun in a kids' room. 

Queen Shell Shaped Headboard, $649-$849, Make Moves Vintage

Vintage seller Abigaile Bell might be the actual queen of shell lamps and she's always got a new shell-shaped find for sale via her Instagram account. I can see this gal living in a shell-shaped house (wait, did I just make up the best idea ever?). Abigaile is a magician when it comes to sourcing the best vintage clam and shell shaped lamps, like this iridescent beauty.

Shell Lamp, Abigail Bell Vintage

I'm a big fan of brass accents in a space. Vintage brass shell shaped book-ends are the perfect way to add the shell-motif to your space in a subtle and elegant way. The weight and patina of vintage brass makes it more timeless, as opposed to cheaper metal reproductions you might see in big box stores right now. My advice is to always go with the vintage option, whether you source it in a shop or online, if you can get your hands on it. 

Brass Shell Bookends, The Sweetest Vintage

This stunning shell shaped pillow from Tamar Mogendorf is one of my most favourite iterations of the motif. Available in every velvet colour of the rainbow (greens, pinks, peaches, whites and more), it's the perfect sophisticated spin on the trend. They're handmade and feel sooooo luxurious!

Large Shell Pillow in Velvet, about $210 CDN, Tamar Mogendorff

Home decor and fashion are closely linked so I wasn't surprised to see the shell trend making its way into clothes and jewelry as well. This gold signet ring from Wolf Circus features a beautiful engraved shell in 14K gold for beachside feels all year round.

Marcel Signet Ring in Gold, $145, Wolf Circus

This designers of this "Shell Canteen" purse say that it's inspired by The Golden Girls and that you'll indeed want to have it right into your 80s. It's fun. It comes in multiple colours. And for the quality, the price point is just right. Some would say to wear this as an evening back but heck — I say sparkles all day every day! 

Blanche Shell Canteen, about $379 CAD, C.A.B. Collection

This roundup wouldn't be complete if we didn't address the sweeping barrette trend. It seems like we woke up one morning and the clips we wore as preteens had taken over the 'gram. The shell-shaped versions mean full on Ariel vibes this time round.

Ursula Shell Clips, about $41 CAD, Valet Studio

My advice in conclusion? Start with vintage by checking out the homewares sections of your local thrift shops, big and small, for shell-shaped dishes, bookends, and so on. Yard sale season is also quickly approaching, so lace up your runners for treasure hunting there, too. 


Autumn is an interior decorator & stylist, and the owner of Make Moves Vintage, a badass vintage shop based in Toronto, Canada. Follow along on Instagram and say hey!

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