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From the Journal: Say it with Scallops

by Magnolia
Published on May 24, 2024

Yellow graphic with dark text.


This story was adapted from the summer 2024 issue of Magnolia Journal.

An orange graphic reads "a story from Magnolia Journal summer 2024."

Set a striking, playful tone in any space with this timeless motif.

I’m in a season where, if I could have scalloped everything, I think I would. I’ve found myself returning to this whimsical style more than ever when it comes to home and product design, which I credit to its nostalgic shape and cheerful aesthetic. Can you see a scallop and not help but smile? Me neither. —Jo

Have you noticed the sea change? Fresh, breezy, neo-preppy decor has been washing over us like a refreshing wave, and with it comes the humble harbinger of joyful simplicity: the scallop.

Scallops as a design darling go back to the Art Deco Era. Inspired by the fluted shell of the sea scallop, which looked fabulous as a repeating geometric pattern, designers splashed it on just about everything (wallpapers, draperies, and upholstery) in the sophisticated, muted colors of the age. Scallops were upscale, elegant, and everywhere. Modern-day scallops are simplified—stripped of their flutes and hinged feet—and they bring a little pep wherever you put them. Scallops look most at home in casual settings—rooms with coastal leanings, farmhouse flavor, or cottage sensibilities. You can make them more traditional if they’re dressed in neutral hues or sophisticated materials (brass or marble, for instance), but they’ll always add softness to a room. We’ve seen them grace the borders of rugs, the edges of shelves and mirrors, the aprons of dressers, and the rims of plates. They’re a bit vintage, a little modern, and a whole lot winsome. Soak up inspiration from the photos on these pages to see how you might introduce a scalloped this or that into your own home.

Green painted scallops dress a dining room wall.

photograph by Jonathan Bond, interior design by Katharine Paravicini

Paint: A scallop is a snap to paint yourself. You can use just about any round object to trace it (think a juice glass for small ones, a paper plate for midrange, or embroidery hoops for large-scale projects). To get the distinct shape just right, keep the circles close together so there’s a sharp point between them.

A scalloped kitchen backsplash centers green cabinetry and floral wallpaper.

photograph by Katrina Lawson Johnston, interior design by Nels Crosthwaite Eyre / Eyre Interiors Ltd. / @nels_eyreinteriors

A scalloped marble counter tops a green vanity, under yellow tile and striped wallpaper.

photograph by Kristin Karch, interior design by The Misfit House

Backsplash & Vanity: Crafted of marble and rimmed with scallops, the stone slab, below, isn’t just a pretty face—it’s a workhorse. It protects the wallpaper around the kitchen sink. In the bathroom, opposite top, scallops enhance the cabinetry and give you something lovely to look at while freshening up.

White scalloped bedding is in a whimsical bedroom scene.

photograph courtesy of Sarah.K

Bedding: The simplest swish of scallops is just the detail this space needed. There are other ways you can balance out a boxy bedroom and bring in a few curves—choose from scalloped shams, a coverlet, or a headboard.

A brass-colored, scalloped vent hood tops white range. Green kitchen cabinetry and tile surround the space.

photograph by Kristin Karch, interior design by The Misfit House

Range Hood: Scallops skirt along the edge of this brass ventilation hood, balancing the stately kitchen with a curvy, warm element. Big-commitment installations like this are an investment, but you may find the impact scallops create to be worth it.

A blue scalloped mirror hangs above a white sink in a green bathroom.

photograph by Jeff Jones, interior design by Farrington Lane

Mirror: Scalloped decor is a simple way to invite whimsy into a traditional home. In this bathroom, a blue mirror complements the shadowy florals and deep green walls—but with a wink.

A scalloped floral valance hangs above a matching bed frame, backed with green paneling.

photograph courtesy of Palisociety

Valance: A bold contrast to the soft green paneling and modern-meets-rustic decor, this scalloped floral valance and matching bed frame make a statement in a stylish hotel room.

A wooden bed frame is adorned with scallops.

photograph courtesy of Magnolia Network

Bed Frame: Scallops on an otherwise clean-lined four-poster give this room a little extra dimension and movement. This piece was custom-built, but you can also purchase wood furnishings adorned with scallops.

Pink scalloped wall shelves hold children's books and toys.

photograph by Caroline Hancock

Shelving: Ho-hum floating shelves become charming with the addition of scalloped aprons. Here, the homeowner bought picture shelves and a scalloped MDF trim from Etsy, then cut them to size. She glued the pieces together and painted them in a blush pink.

A Splash of Scallops to Bring Home

Even small scallop accents can add delight. They bring their own kind of brightness to light fixtures, they sweeten the edges of mirrors and bookends, and they add an inviting ambience to a dinner table.

To re-create this dainty look at home, find our product picks in Sourcebook on page 114 in the summer 2024 issue of Magnolia Journal.

For more inspiration for life and home: