A beach house is a dream, right?
I daydream every year around this time about a little place by the ocean. I daydream about a second home, which then turns into planning a quick jaunt out to the coast for a week. Beach houses are just so laid back, so relaxing.
Most of the houses for vacation rentals here in Florida are truly, truly awful. Cheap sofas from the 80’s on top of faux stone floors next to chipped laminate cabinetry. Usually, there’s an unfortunate mirrored wall. And don’t get me started on the wall art! (((shudder)))
An ocean view doesn’t cover bad design. So, today I’m gonna dive deep into 4 different beach house styles, with inspiration and sources for each. Perfect for getting some of that vacation style in your everyday home.
To the beach!
You can jump straight to the style you’re interested in here:
What all great beach house interiors share
Beach houses come in all shapes and sizes and are located all over the globe. But no matter the size, location, or even the age of any beach house, a great one usually has the four following things:
- RELAXED FEELING: A beach house is not formal or fussy – no symmetry, no crisp structure, no stark surfaces. This doesn’t mean it’s not ‘fancy’, only that it doesn’t necessarily make you stand up straight and feel like you need formal attire, or even shoes, to enjoy it.
- COMFORTABLE SURFACES: Everything in a beach house feels good on bare, often sunburnt, skin. Nothing is rough or scratchy. Furniture has easy shapes that invite afternoon naps, and hard surfaces are natural and timeworn.
- EASY MAINTENANCE: A beach house may look serene and calm, but you can also bet that everything there is durable and easy to take care of. Because who wants to be cleaning when you’re at the beach? The other thing you’ll generally find is that pieces are timeless, and will look as good in 15 years as they do today.
- REFLECTS THE LOCATION: The interior should focus on the view, and layouts should frame and face the windows. And just as a sleek city condo doesn’t make sense in a forest, a full beach house vibe doesn’t really make sense if you’re not at the beach. The interior should also reflect the climate it’s in, and the materials should work with the environment not against it.
Coastal Cottage Beach House Style
Your bare feet are on weathered decking, a ceiling fan is lazily spinning overhead, and a cold ‘coozied’ cocktail is in your hand. After you finish this paperback you found on the bookcase, you’ll go back through that screen door for some of that leftover cold shellfish for lunch. You’re thinking about firing up the grill for dinner again before watching the sunset out on the beach. You sleep with the windows open each night to catch the gentle sounds of the waves…
Where you’ll find a Coastal Cottage:
Entire American Gulf Coast
Southern American Atlantic Coast (except Miami)
Northeast American Atlantic Coast
Inspiration for a Coastal Cottage:
Designing a Coastal Cottage:
- WHITE WALLS: Start by painting the walls, ceiling, trim, and doors white. Whatever surface is there, paint it white. Do you have exposed studs and rafters? Paint it white. Faux wood paneling? Paint it white. Lathe or Shiplap? You guessed it, paint it white.
- SEAGLASS COLORS: Decide where to add a spot of soft sea glass color to your hard surfaces. It could be painting the ceiling or floors, choosing colorful cabinets, or adding a simple tile backsplash.
- NATURAL TEXTURES: Layer in texture on texture on texture. Use timeworn wood finishes for case goods. Seagrass light fixtures or rugs, woven furniture pieces, or cabinets with caning inlays add depth and keep your eye interested.
- SLIPCOVERED UPHOLSTERY: Lastly, add the big, comfortable pieces of furniture, and accent with touches of your personality.
Shopping for a Coastal Cottage:
Modern Retreat Beach House Style
You dig your toes deeper into the sand as you re-apply sunscreen. It’s time to move the lounge chair back under the shade of the umbrella again. You stretch back out and watch the waves roll in as you decide in your mind what to wear out to dinner at that little place down the beach. You head back inside when the heat builds in the afternoon, and watch the breeze softly blow the linen drapes through the open terrace door. After dinner, you enjoy a cool glass of wine out there and watch the sunset over the water…
Where you’ll find a Modern Retreat:
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Inspiration for a Modern Retreat:
Designing a Modern Retreat:
- CREAMY WALLS: Start by covering the walls and ceiling in a warm creamy off-white. A little bit of sheen helps reflect the light and create a serene and peaceful feeling.
- LIGHT NATURAL WOODS: Decide on a light, weathered wood tone for the floor. This will be the only ‘color’ in the space, so make note of whether you’ve chosen a warm tone or a cool tone. This will make it easier to select the rest of the furnishings in the same tone.
- WOVEN ACCENTS: Layer in more tonal texture through accent furniture, accessories, and light fixtures. Make sure the textures are at different scales to keep it interesting.
- LOW SLUNG FURNITURE: Lastly, add modern, low slung furniture pieces. Keep the shapes soft and round as much as possible, and the materials neutral and tone on tone.
Shopping for a Modern Retreat:
Surf Shack Beach House Style
You woke up early to greet the waves with a smile. A morning out in the water was exactly what you needed today. After a bite to eat at that little place by your house, you unload the gear and rinse off in the outdoor shower. An afternoon nap in the hammock and a cold drink is all you need to get ready for the party on the beach tonight. You fix a quick dinner in the tiny kitchen with the cute fridge and then head down the to the water with your friends. You can’t wait to do it all again tomorrow…
Where you’ll find a Surf Shack:
Atlantic Coast of Florida
Like, All of Hawaii
Coastal California, but especially Santa Cruz
Inspiration for a Surf Shack:
Designing a Surf Shack:
- MID-TONE WOODS: Start by having your walls or ceiling be covered in natural wood paneling. The color of the wood should be a warm mid-tone, You should be able to clearly see the grain of the natural wood. Mahogany, Teak, Acacia, and Ipe are all perfect for this.
- GRAPHIC PATTERNS: Decide where to add some graphic patterns. It could be a fun wallpaper, a graphic patterned window treatment, or a really bold rug. If should be colorful and fun without feeling childish. Keep it cool.
- COLORFUL ACCENTS: Layer in more color, using your graphic pattern as a jumping-off point. Look for colorful accent chairs & tables, fun light fixtures, or even a bright and cheerful fridge. Figure out where you’re going to display your board(s).
- RETRO STYLE: Lastly, place your colorful pieces of furniture, and add in your personality with retro art and accessories. This is a great time to look at vintage & thrift pieces for all areas.
Shopping for a Surf Shack:
Tropical Getaway Beach House Style
After a breakfast with the freshest fruit juice you’ve ever tasted, you’re headed out on an adventure. Yesterday snorkeling, today a boat ride to a private beach, tomorrow the market in town – and amazing tacos everywhere. You take an early evening swim after a quick afternoon nap in the deep shade of the main room that opens to the courtyard. A relaxed dinner at the nearby restaurant leaves you ready to watch the sunset from your patio, with the sea breeze lulling you to sleep through the open shutters…
Where you’ll find a Tropical Getaway:
Baja Peninsula, Mexico
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Inspiration for a Tropical Getaway:
Designing a Tropical Getaway:
- RUSTIC FINISHES: Start with a soft white on the walls, with a matte painted finish. Accent with natural wood touches, and a warm natural limestone floor with a honed finish.
- HANDCRAFTED PATTERNS: Decide where to add the handcrafted touches that reflect the location you’re in. Maybe a beautiful wall hanging or a modern tile. Or both.
- BOLD COLOR: Layer in touches of bold, tropical color in accent furniture and accessories. AReally, don’t stop there – window treatments and built-in cabinets are also perfect surfaces to add fun drama.
- MODERN ACCENT: Lastly, balance the handcrafted and rustic layers with contemporary shapes on a few pieces of furniture. This juxtaposition will make each layer visually stronger and the whole picture much more interesting.
Shopping for a Tropical Getaway:
Bring the beach home with you
Well, now you’ve seen into my daydreams.
I hope this fun jaunt into the beach houses of the world was a fun little escape for you and gave you lots of ideas on how to bring the vacation home with you.
Here’s to sandy toes, frosty beverages, and the sound of the waves at sunset!