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Originally published Friday, October 12, 2012 at 8:01 PM

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Let’s talk about blues, beaches and other design hits

GE’s latest appliance color is slate.

The Washington Post

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Coastal Living’s editor-in-chief, Antonia van der Meer, joined Washington Post staff writer Jura Koncius recently for a chat. Here is an edited excerpt.

Q: Is it customary to tip furniture deliverers? I’m waiting for deliveries from two companies and have paid delivery fees for both.

Van der Meer: Tips are always up to you and are not mandatory but are customary. If you like the job the movers do, it’s nice to thank them with a little extra something.

Q: What are your favorite pale-blue paint colors? It’s hard to find just the right shade for a beach-house bedroom.

Van der Meer: Wow! We could list pretty blue colors all day. Sheer Bliss and Porcelain Glaze from Benjamin Moore are beautiful. We also love White Ice. Ralph Lauren has a color called Cloud Blue that is very soft with a little gray. Pale Powder from Farrow & Ball is similar. Their Blue Ground is a deeper shade of blue. Valspar’s River Mist and Crystalline are so serene. We love them.

Q: Thanks to a plumbing problem, our bathroom is getting ripped apart. The good news is I get the remodel I’ve been wanting. The bad news is that I have to decide everything quickly. In any type of decorating, I’m always overwhelmed by the choices. Where do I start? Should I pick the tile first? I know the general color scheme that I want (blues, aqua, beach-glass shades) but that’s about it.

Koncius: My plumber is at my house right now! I love it when he comes to fine tune all of my ancient 1937 bathroom faucets and drains. But if you have to rip up your bathroom, you’ve got to make some decisions.

My advice is to keep it classic. The white and black tiles in my master bathroom still look good after decades of use.

I love subway tiles in white, but you could also mix in some blue glass tiles, too. You could also paint the walls one of the yummy pale-blue shades that Antonia suggested earlier and get towels in a paler shade of blue. White is always in style; just remember that you can always add more color with accessories.

Q:Any suggestions for getting the coastal look without white sofas? With two black cats and a toddler, white is just not going to work for me.

Van der Meer: Why don’t you try a texture or pattern? Stripes give you a great coastal look but you won’t see as much cat hair. We also are big believers in slipcovers over here. You can take them off and throw them right in the wash.

Q: We are about to start a kitchen remodel and love casual coastal style. How would you define it in the kitchen? Painted or wood cabinets? What countertop material?

Van der Meer: Painted cabinets, whitewashed wood, wood floors (or ceramic tiles that look like wood) all lend a casual beachy flair. Casual is a way of life. Open shelving makes entertaining easy and keeps things from getting too formal.

Q: All of my appliances are white and the dishwasher is on its last legs. Should I avoid stainless steel? In other words: Is the stainless-steel trend finally on its way out? What is next for appliances?

Koncius: Tough question. I just got news from GE that their latest appliance color is slate.

I think stainless and white are the basics, as is black. You can’t go wrong with one of those.

Q: Years ago we were in Florida and collected a bunch of sand dollars. They’ve sat in a glass bowl for years, but I’m sure there’s a better way to display them. Any thoughts?

Van der Meer: Everyone who loves the beach loves to collect and display things. We recommend leaning a few against a windowsill, against the back of bookshelves or along a mantelpiece. I also sometimes use them to top a pile of books on a coffee table.