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CALIFORNIA TROPICAL | WANTED

Beachcombing era

June 10, 2004|Adamo DiGregorio and David A. Keeps | Special to The Times

Blame it on Botticelli. Ever since he painted Venus on a half-shell, designers and hot-glue gun wielders like '60s Hollywood decorator Tony Duquette have scoured the seashores for treasures that can lend a tropical feeling to any style of interior.

Italian neoclassical

Stacie Caspari's tile, $295, is embedded with shells around a shimmering nautilus. The 20-by-17-inch pieces liven up exterior stucco, poolside cinder blocks or indoor walls. Made from water-resilient plaster, it can also be used in kitchens and baths. At Maison Luxe, Manhattan Beach, (310) 546-5552, or www.staciecaspari.com, (800) 213-4383.

Going for Baroque

In addition to her Grotto Style collection of candlesticks, sconces and lamps that are sold through such catalogs as Neiman-Marcus, Stacie Caspari has crafted a carved-wood treasure chest, $945, that's covered in shells and coral. Based on the curiosity boxes that Baroque-era nobles used to store organic materials and oddities, this one-of-a-kind handcrafted item can be used as a jewelry case or a tabletop objet d'art. At Maison Luxe or www.staciecaspari.com.

Midcentury architectural

Translucent shells from Capiz in the Philippines are thin enough to be laid on top of one another to create a lustrous surface that, on a cocktail table such as this, requires no coasters. The symmetrical profile of this anonymous vintage design, $895, makes it suitable for a 1950s ranch or a 21st century contemporary home, while brass trim and a cane shelf add luxe accents that can work with 1940s Chinoise or Scandinavian modern decor. At Rubbish, Los Angeles, (323) 661-5575.

French oceanic

A hybrid of rustic maritime handicraft and Napoleon-era splendor, this $2,130 Currey & Co. light fixture adds the warmth of illuminated natural materials without sacrificing the formality of a classic chandelier. At Nell's, Los Angeles, (323) 857-6697.

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