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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

sea shell gown

The sea shell gown...start to finish.

It all began with an idea, a sketch and a pile of vintage lace, satin and tulle.

...and LOTS of sea shells!

Then is was time to construct the dress. I'm used to making pillows, tablecloths and window treatments...this pushed my sewing capabilities to the max.

Once every stich was sewn and was time to embellish.

Almost three months later...a magical, fairy-tale inspired, sea shell encrusted gown appeared before my eyes.

And how do you transport such a gown...?

Well, I embraced my West Virginia roots and jumped into the back of the truck!

Swallow the nerves it's showtime!

I was so happy to have these very sweet young ladies by my side...Miss Laura and Valya! 

Shellabration 2012 was a great off to the beach for an awesome photo shoot!

Thanks to all who participated and attended the event. Thanks to all who donated their time, talents and funds to raise money for the Sanibel Community House! But most of all I want to thank all those whom I love that made this time so very special.

PS. Thanks Meg for the great photos!!! I can't wait to share her pics from the Captiva Island photo shoot. More to come...

Friday, February 24, 2012

no more secrets...

It has been so hard to keep my latest project a secret...but I guess I no longer need to keep it to myself. Take a peek at today's cover of the Islander newspaper...

* click on images to enlarge. Photos by Bill Schiller

Several months ago I was asked to make a garment for the 75th Shellabration on Sanibel Island. I was excited but a bit skeptical. After all, I am an interior designer not a fashion designer. However, my curiosity was at an all time high and I couldn't stop thinking about ideas. Visions of tulle, satin and my endless collection of seashells filled my every thought until...
okay okay I'll do it!!!

What kind of garment would a hopeless romantic...a shell connoisseur...a glue gun goddess...and lover of all things girly and white decide to make...? Not a stretch to guess...a wedding gown. I did dream big and was every bit up to the challenge. The dress is a modified mermaid style, constructed of vintage lace and yards of tulle and satin. It is encrusted with thousands of seashells and has a long embellished train. A tad compulsive I may be...but isn't that the cornerstone of any creative soul? 

Several months have passed and now I am within 3 days of the fashion show. Hurray!!! I am excited, tired and have lots of glue gun and sewing injuries to prove the sheer dedication I have given to this gown. I have also made junior bride's maid and flower girl dresses. More like a "shell-girl" not a flower girl since sea shells will be sprinkled down the runway.

I would like to give a very special thanks to the Sanibel Captiva Islander, the Island Reporter and to senior editor Bill Schiller, for the photographs and the awesome article. Please click on the link below for more information about Shellabration 2012 and all the other great stories in these terrific publications...

To say I am honored to be a part of this year's Shellabration is quite and understatement. It has been a long but wonderful couple of months and I am in the home stretch now. I cannot wait to post pictures after the show...stay tuned!

Friday, February 17, 2012

never a lack of love...

The official day of love, St. Valentine's Day, may have come and gone, but have no fear...

you will always find love at

glass blown hearts filled with sand and shells

whimsical pillows

silk flower arrangements

vintage ephemera love birds

hand made quilt heart pillows

crochet pillows with vintage broaches

decoupage flower tins

...if I didn't make these arrangements, I would never believe that the flowers are not real.

Even the bees get confused!

Try to keep romance close to your matter what the calendar says.

Every day can be Valentine's Day if you try!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

visions of love from Sanibel Island

On this tiny island called Sanibel nature is very much a part of everything I do. Mother Nature herself sends love our way everyday...sometimes you just have to stop and look.


cockle shells




heart shell

paper figs

Love can show up when you least expect it.

So keep your eyes...and your heart open.

I hope your heart is filled with love.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

inspired to create...

With all the driftwood piling up it was clearly time to make another creation.

I love making these mirrors. It's like a very intricate puzzle.
Love, love, love the process...

...and if I'm missing just the right piece...
the beach is a short bike ride down the street.

The colors and textures are so inspiring. It is the perfect addition to my growing list of must have treasures and simple pleasures.

Now it's time to head back to the Dead Wood Forest in search of a new pile.

Funny, it doesn't look or feel like "work".

I must say that I love that this is my "office"!!!

It doesn't take long at all to fill my bike basket
to the very brim.

What project to tackle next...?

I guess you'll just have to stay tuned!

I hope your days are filled with inspiration and creativity wherever you may be!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's here!

Well it's here! My designs for the renovation of the Island Inn on Sanibel are featured in the current issue of Romantic Living magazine.


*a very special thank you to Jacqueline deMontravel and Romantic Homes Magazine...

*images courtesy of Romantic Living Magazine 2012

and a little happy press...

Latest press release:


...and brings Sanibel with her

Interior designer, Melinda Graham, has had her fair share of national

recognition over the years. Not only has her work been featured in

numerous magazines and books, but she has also appeared on multiple

television shows on networks such as the Discovery Channel, HGTV, Oxygen

and NBC. Three and a half years ago, Melinda relocated her interior design

and retail business of 15 years to Sanibel Island. Surroundings by Melinda

is now a year round home d├ęcor business on Sanibel featuring her own

signature style which she refers to as “comfortable beach chic”. The shop

is filled to the brim with vintage beach inspired items for the home and

wonderful unique gift items sure to impress.

Now as a full-time Sanibel resident, Melinda has been thrust back into the

national spotlight. Melinda’s home was chosen to be photographed for the

magazine Romantic Homes. Graham’s previous home and business have been

well photographed but this will be the first time her Sanibel residence

has been chosen to grace the pages of a national magazine. The magazine’s

editor, Jacqueline deMontravel, arrived on Sanibel in November to shoot

Graham’s home and local shop. Graham had arranged for the editor and her

family to stay at the historic Island Inn. Over the summer months of 2011,

Melinda was commissioned to design the remodel of the Island Inn on West

Gulf. The renovation of the Inn was featured in a special addition of the magazine called

Romantic Living. Currently on newsstands, you can see a sample of Graham’s

work and a lovely article about the Inn and Sanibel Island on pages 18 and

19 of the magazine. Feel free to call Surroundings by Melinda for details

and magazine availability. For additional pictures of the design

renovation of the Island Inn you can visit Graham’s blog at

“It is a privilege and an honor to have my home and shop selected to

appear on the pages of a magazine once again. I was thrilled to be able to

share the spotlight with a local iconic landmark like the Island Inn.”

Graham’s home will be featured in the April 2012 issue of Romantic Homes

magazine and her retail shop will appear in the holiday 2012 issue…just in

time for Christmas. For information about Melinda’s design work, retail

shop and availability of the magazines you can call Surroundings by

Melinda or visit her website at

Surroundings by Melinda

2480 Library Way

Sanibel Island, Fl 33957