TAMPA– A flag always waves above Julie Whitney’s front door, but visitors would expect nothing less from a founding member of The Bayshore Patriots.
Along with friends Linda Alfonso and Julie Sargent, Whitney began waving flags on Bayshore Boulevard to express her patriotism following the attacks on September 11, 2001. The walls in her foyer testify to those efforts: Framed newspaper articles featuring the group hang beside photographs of General Tommy Franks, a “President’s Volunteer Service Award” and “City of Tampa Commendation.”
“We wanted to show our sympathy and support for those who lost loved ones or were called to active military service,” Whitney recalls.
Over time, the entire interior of her 2,500-square-foot townhouse has evolved into a display of patriotic pride. Elements of traditional federal décor blend effortlessly with red-white-and-blue Americana and reveal an abiding love of country.
“I wanted my home to be more patriotic, but in a tasteful way,” she explains.
The secret of Whitney’s success: Use bold colors sparingly and wisely, and you’ll end up with a decorating scheme that is both attractive and patriotic.
Indeed, Whitney has incorporated patriotic design elements into every room of her home: In the kitchen, stark white cabinets are lined with her grandmother’s blue Fiestaware and framed patriotic fruit labels. A collection of blue Depression glass lines shelves above the sink beside whimsical figurines waving American flags.
An adjacent powder room features towels embroidered with a subtle homage to the stars and stripes along with a painted flag from Nantucket, Massachusetts- a birthday gift from son, Christopher.
Whitney loves to compose tabletop vignettes and decorated a chest at the foot of the stairs with military coins as well as her collection of crystal and enamel battersea boxes – some gifts, some purchases – that hint at her flag-waving passion.
“My home isn’t meant to be political,” she stresses. “I’m an American and I want my surroundings to reflect the American spirit every day.”
Upstairs, the yellow walls of her study have been made lively with antique “Blue Willow” china platters and “Uncle Sam” nutcrackers hung above flag-framed photographs resting on the grand piano.
True, this design concept depends heavily on the impact of colors to influence the space. But the effect isn’t jarring or garish at all.
“I never tire of looking at it,” she says, nodding at a large stained-glass American flag that hangs in the window. “It’s comforting. I’m very relaxed here.”
Photo by Jennifer Whitney