This month on the Virtual Book Club we read “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty.  I watched the series a few years ago and loved it.  Yes, it was violent and sexual, however, I was intrigued by the characters’ different personalities and backgrounds, the homes that each of them lived in and the way their lives were all interwoven.  I am a sucker for a good story with many fascinating characters and this one had them all. For my decor interpretation of the book, first I am going to discuss 5 different versions of coastal style decor and then I am going to style a seating area for each character in the book according to their home style and personality.

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The homes and their locations are strongly connected and representative of the character who lives there.  As you get deeper and deeper into the story, the connections become more evident.

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Big Little Lies

This book is set in the small town of Pirriwee Peninsula which is a small beach front community in Australia.  The TV version is set in California but the characters and plot are for the most part the same. The main characters of the story are Madeline, Celeste, Jane, Bonnie and Renata and each of them have children attending the same primary school. Madeline, Celeste and Renata are extremely wealthy, Bonnie is moderately wealthy and Jane is a young single mother.  

The book and TV version flip flop between the past and present so you learn immediately that there has been a death/murder at a fancy school fundraiser and no one is coming forth quickly with who did it or why. We see the women dropping their kids off at school, their interactions, and their day to day lives. As the book continues, we see deeper friendships forming between all of the women, but in very different ways. Each character deals with a major and for the most part a life altering problem. The beauty of the book is how the women support each other and how real they are with each other. They don’t sugar coat their responses in the least.

It is the story of five women who hurt, heal and grow.

Let’s get to know each of the characters.

MadelineTraditional Coastal

Sometimes I’m just holding onto this idea of perfection so tight; something has to give.

Madeline, Big Little Lies

This statement by Madeline sums up her character and her home perfectly.  By outward appearances they both look flawless.  Whether it be Madeline in her fit and flare dress with stilletos, hair and makeup looking like she just walked out of a salon or her large shingle beach house with an enormous kitchen made for close-knit family meals.  As always, behind every great facade is the truth and as well meaning as Madeline is and no matter how hard she tries to have the perfect family, she does not.  There are every day problems and there are some very serious problems.

White siding and neutral cedar shingle home on the beach with lots of windows

Getting back to Madeline’s home, it is a wonderful example of traditional coastal with features such as white washed cedar shingles, pitched rooflines, transom windows above all of the windows, detailed square pillars, multiple chimneys, bookshelves and books, white cabinetry, antiques, linens, exposed wood beams and a color palette of white, creams and soft blues.

White family room with built in book shelves, light blue sofa, views to the ocean - a great example of coastal style decor

The setting is also very similar to Madeline’s character as it is appropriately set on a bright, pretty and almost feminine beach with white sand, rolling dunes and soft blue water.  

White sandy beach with large sand dune in front

We most often see Madeline with her family at her large kitchen island where they discuss their day, share meals and of course argue. Madeline is on her second marriage and has a very difficult time sharing her 16 year old daughter with her ex-husband’s new wife, Bonnie. Remember what I said about the characters lives being interwoven?

All white kitchen with black granite countertops and lots of windows looking out to the ocean

For Madeline, I have styled an old bistro set I had with my mom’s embroidered yellow tablecloth and blue pillows. It is fitting that it is in front of picket fence as you see Madeline has a picket fence in her back yard. Madeline could enjoy a romantic evening here with her husband, or a fun tea party with your young daughter or a casual chat with any of her friends. I made it pretty and colorful, yet still traditional with the use of heirlooms given Madeline’s love of anything traditional.

Bistro set with yellow tablecloth and blue pillows in front of picket fence and lake in background

Celeste – Big Sur Coastal

This can happen to anyone.

Celeste, Big Little Lies

Celeste is the victim of domestic violence and her statement above resonated with me so deeply. You see, I grew up in a home filled with violence. On the outside, everything looked wonderful. Only my much older brothers and my closest friends knew what was happening, but no one dared to help or even offer to help. Both my parents held good jobs, I excelled at school and sports – so what would have tipped anyone off that my homelife was terrifying? Why those who did know never did anything to help I will never know. Thankfully for Celeste she has an amazing group of friends who do help her.

Domestic violence doesn’t just happen to the poor or uneducated, it can happen to anyone. Celeste is gorgeous, composed and a lawyer. Perry, her husband, is a successful businessman. Their twin sons are typical energetic boys, but one of them has begun to take after his father. Outward appearances would tell you that they have it all, but of course that is not the case.

While Celeste lives in a breathtaking home with huge water views, it is not a bright and cheery setting like Madeline’s.  In fact, the home has many trees around it which shade it and the ocean is much more fierce in this area.  The home is very linear with no soft edges and despite the big windows it is dark and moody.  There are no cheery rooms, but rather dimly lit, uncluttered rooms perfectly organized.  It is similar to Celeste’s character who is quiet, and meticulous in her appearance and wardrobe, but there is always an air of uncertainty or anxiousness about her. 

Corner windows with a metal coffee table and two rattan chairs

​The deck and outdoor dining/lounging area of Celeste’s home are exquisite.  They are very natural with trees growing right through the deck, yet there is no extra foliage or flowers.  It is very stark and gray.  Not a lot of light shines on the deck or this home and that speaks volumes of what lies inside.

Outdoor deck with trees growing through the deck, outdoor furniture and blue cushions

I must admit that was I was very taken with Celeste’s outdoor living areas and decided to create a sexy outdoor bar. The live edge bar countertop is in keeping with the natural elements used in Celeste’s home. Simple accessories of large black lanterns, sleek bar stools and romantic lighting provide the sultry and mysterious atmosphere that surrounded Celeste’s home.

Outdoor bar with coastal style decor including candleholders and string lights to set the mood

Can’t you just see Celeste enjoying a glass of wine with Perry in this location?

String lights across outdoor bar with lake in the background with coastal style decor

RenataModern Coastal

I will not not be rich.

Renata, Big Little Lies

Renata is a powerhouse of a woman and is the wealthiest of the group.  She is proud of what she has, what she has become, there is not a single humble bone in her body and she is not apologetic about it.  Renata will take on anyone who is in her way or who may possibly hurt her daughter. She goes to great lengths to do everything she possibly can for her daughter including throwing her an elaborate birthday party.

Modern home with rounded two story glass wall of windows with a pool in front

Her home is an excellent representation of her at the top of her game as it is set high above the ocean and is a sleek modern coastal home with soaring windows, a large curved contemporary staircase, 180 degree views, and an infinity pool.  This is not a friendly home, but rather one that is there to make a statement and to tell everyone that she made it and is in control!

Her outdoor furniture reminds me of a post I just read by Zoe of Pine and Poplar DIY on how to build a modular outdoor sectional and it was so informative. Click here for the post.

Sleek white home interior with curved modern staircase with iron handrails and various coastal style decor

Renata’s life comes crashing down in a way that hurts her the most and to her core. There is no doubt in me that Renata will not stay down for long, she will rise up and achieve more but I do believe that she will come out of this as a nicer person as well!

Couple sitting in an empty modern home looking out at the view

My inspiration for Renata had to incorporate our infinity edge pool.

Infinity edge pool with string lights at sunset

Renata’s style is very contemporary and minimalist so I set up to gray loungers with a beach umbrella just to the side of our pool for Renata to relax in after a long day of work.

A great example of coastal style decor with gray lounge chairs with  a beach umbrella and simple coastal pillows and a lake in the background

Bonnie – Boho Coastal

None of us really see things as they are, we see things as we are.

Bonnie, Big Little Lies

Bonnie is a very grounded and all seeing person. She is open and thoughtful and an excellent step mom for Abigail (remember she is married to Madeline’s ex husband, Nathan). Her sense of worth does not come from fancy clothes or an elaborate home. She is wise beyond her years and her comment above is accurate to most people, although it is very hard for most to see this or acknowledge it.

Bonnie is a very down to earth yoga instructor and Nathan is a landscape architect and their home is such a combination of their two personalities.  It could be best described as a boho coastal style home with lots of wood panelling, big windows to let in the natural light and views of the outside greenery in, and lots of handcrafted decor.  

Interior of home with lots of coastal style decor including a slanted ceiling, wood panelling, fireplace and bookshelves

Nothing is cookie cutter here.  It is decorated with items that are made of natural fibers and natural textures.  It also looks like a gallery exhibiting the momentos from their travels and has both an organic and spiritual feel.  It appears that it would be a very peaceful, harmonious place to live.

Of course, Bonnie has her own demons to deal with but we don’t find out about them to almost the very end of the book.

For Bonnie, I styled a simple rattan chair with a tapestry pillow that she could have picked up while travelling. A plant of course was a must. Here Bonnie could relax and even meditate.

Rattan chair with blue tapestry pillow, spider plant on bar cart and lake in back ground

Jane – Cottage Coastal

Sometimes when I’m in a new place. I get this sensation. Like, if only I were here.

Jane is a young single mom who is new to the area.  She is far out of her league with the likes of Madeline and Renata, but she does share the same air of fear and anxiety as Celeste. Jane is so anxious that she rarely lives in the moment as her quote would indicate.

With regards to her home, Jane starts off in an apartment but then moves into a coastal style cottage with craftsman lines and decor.  Like Celeste’s home, Jane’s is a little dark too and of course, is very representative of Jane’s personality being cautious and nervous.  It is like an empty background because at the moment Jane is empty too.  Jane tries to make the house a nice home for her and her son, but she has a lot of work to do before it can be everything she hopes for.

Jane’s home is much like herself, a work in progress.

For Jane’s seating inspo, I decided to style our porch swing as I could imagine her cuddled up with her son, Ziggy, swinging away and discussing what had happened at school and planning their next craft project.

White swing bed  styled with coastal style decor of blue striped pillows beside swimming pool

And there you go! What do you think – was I able to capture each of the characters in my decor inspiration? Please let me know in the comments below.

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Picnic at sunset with lake in background

Time to check out the rest of the Virtual Book Club members

Virtual book club bloggers

Make sure to check out all the fantastic home decor that Lynn and Cindy were inspired to create by clicking the titles of their projects under the photos.

Lynn, Living Large in a Small House

Cindy, Reinvented Delaware

Erin, Erin Evolving

Table set with coastal decor
Dark planter with a plant in it outside
Erin Evolving

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Did you have a chance to check out my suggestions for best garden decor ideas for a small space?

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Wall planter mid season with plants filling in. Hung on solid rock wall.

Or some coastal farmhouse decor ideas?

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Or how about all the fun I had styling with carpet tiles?

Outdoor bar area with square carpet tiles in blue and beige

What do you think?

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2 Comments
  • Lynn
    May 31, 2023

    Loved this post, Crystal. I think you like me were intrigued by how the friend’s homes mimicked their lives and their personalities. I’m sorry that you lived with abuse as a child. Being a victim of both verbal and physical abuse in my first marriage, I totally understand the secrecy and the shame of the situation. I found that with lots of therapy and hard work, I’ve been able to put that pain on a shelve.

    • Crystal
      May 31, 2023

      Oh dear Lynn, so sorry to hear what you went through as well but so happy that you got yourself and your children out of that. My pain was put on a shelf too due to a mother-in-law who got me the help I needed. I have a plan to share a story about my amazing mother-in-law – she was heaven sent for me.