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Friday, June 5, 2009

Hooked On -- Getting YOUR beach house design advice!

I've come to pick your brains!
Read on, if you dare. . . .
or if you have lots of patience!

Forty years ago, on a snowy February Sunday, my Dad saw a brief classified ad in the Sunday New York Times real estate section, and he took my mother on a ride out to eastern Long Island. My mother called at dusk: "Get your own dinners, kids. Your father and I just bought a beach house, and we're going out to celebrate!"

Since then, the house has gone from tiny beach cottage, to bigger beach cottage, to beach cottage with a sleeping loft, to completely-gone beach cottage with a new house in its place.

Today, I am hooked on getting your ideas about giving this house a mini-makeover.


Thanks to Julia of Hooked On Houses for her "Hooked On...." Friday blog party! Julia also has a beach house blog, and I'm going to steal a look at that for inspiration, too.

Click here to see what others are hooked on this Friday!


Take a look at this light fixture:

It hangs in the beach house dining area, and before that it was in my childhood home, and before that in my Grandmother's dining room. It is old slag glass, and I think its palette of soft creams and whites, with clear blues and greens would be a lovely palette for this house on the water. What do you think?

Please take a look at the pictures that follow (oy, there are a lot!)
and let me know if you have any insights, inspirations, advice or ideas!

Hop in the Jeep, we're heading out to the beach house.
It's in need of a facelift, and you ladies are my consultants!

Here's the right turn off the Main Road and onto the dirt right-of-way. Slow! Avoid the puddles.

Round the bend. You can just glimpse a little beach cabin to the left; my parents bought that years ago for overflow guests, but sold it when they built the larger house upon retiring. . .

Pardon the glare from the Jeep's windows!

We are finally here:

In we go, through the side entrance, into the kitchen:

Waterside homes are built "backwards."
The street or driveway side is the rear of the house; the side that faces the water is the front.

The ceiling fixtures are all real antique school house lights that my father re-wired. Lovely white glass!

There's a long empty wall in the kitchen, and we put Dion's ex-pen there for today. My mom had a table here, but it was too wide. I'm thinking. . . a moveable "island" that can be pushed out on the deck? Or a skirted counter, maybe only 18-inches deep, that will bring a cottage-y note into the kitchen, and provide storage underneath for chowder pots?

Take a look:

Here are some shots of the living-dining room:

And into the first floor master bedroom, visible at the bottom of the stairs, above.

The master is a soft pink.

It needs fresh paint, as does the whole house. The master bath:

The living room, from the master doorway:

(That's my clutter of paint color fan decks and notebook on the sofa.)

Walk out onto the first floor deck, look to the left, say Hi to the neighbors:

And to the right, past the dock, and out into Peconic Bay:

See that strip of sand in the distance? It's a lovely empty beach, great for swimming and kite flying.

Now... upstairs we go, and at the top of the stairs we find a sitting area.
You are not seeing double -- it is very similar to the one downstairs!

More pictures of the second floor, including up to the 3rd floor loft (favorite spot for children; they love bungee-jumping toys off the railings -- my Dad taught them how!).

There are also pictures of the three bedrooms, and the views from the upstairs deck:

And you see this old Southern pie safe, below? It is mine, and heading to That Old House one of these days. My Dad hates this piece - thinks it's junk. My Mom kept it in the basement in the winter house and I loved it even when I was a child.

Back down on earth, having taken lots of pictures and copious notes as to what needs doing, and what is fine as is. Howard and Dion take a moment to sit on the porch steps and look at the water. . . .

Inside again and Dion doesn't realize we've left his pen open and he's free to roam. I think he's tired; he had a good walk, and visited with a Golden Retriever, a Sheltie, and lots of human neighbors.

So -- that's our family beach house. It was for sale, but is off the market now and we are going to use it. My sister Peggy and I are coming up with some simple fixes, as it does need refreshing.

We're thinking maybe soft pale watery blue walls in living, dining and kitchen areas, white ceilings, filmy white draperies (maybe hung from metal poles, with grommets? rather nautical) and new flooring throughout the first floor -- possibly bamboo?

Does anyone have any experience with bamboo flooring?
Humidity is not a huge problem; the house is raised above the ground, and very airy.

Upstairs, new paint -- pastels in the bedrooms, maybe a buttery cream in the double height family room and loft. White walls are too stark in this house, I think; there are water views from every window, even the 3 bathrooms have water views, and the light is intense. But I do like colors that reflect light rather than absorb it.

Can you think of other palettes? Kitchen ideas?

Painting the cabinets is not an option -- my sister loves them as is, and so does my Dad. But we need new countertops, as the old ones are worn out. And what about that long empty kitchen wall?

Furniture is an issue as most of the good things are gone, into our houses or Dad's apartment. We'll use as much of what is left as we can, but we will need to add beds at the very least!

We need new deck furniture, too, and it must be HEAVY so it doesn't blow off the deck in a gale. There's a solid wooden glider on the upstairs deck, and it is lashed to the railings, because it used to skitter across the deck in a good stiff breeze!

Back in New Jersey . . .
Alida and I have made excellent progress painting our porch furniture for That Old House! I'm hoping I can transform the Awful Truth porch (here!) into a thing of beauty by Monday. A glimpse of the wonders to come. . .

What? What?? Isn't red mulch the latest fad in gardening?

On Wednesday afternoon, Anne and Alida returned from London where they'd had a fabulous time. And the very next morning, we took Anne to the airport to catch a flight to Guam.

Good-bye, Annie! Love the Prague tee shirt from last summer's singing gig!

Off she goes, luggage in tow, and her sister
trailing along to use the (ahem) facilities at Terminal 4 at JFK Airport. . . .

Turns out Anne was on the inaugural non-stop flight from NY to Tokyo for Delta Airlines, and got a set of commemorative chopsticks as a memento. Happily, Anne likes to use chopsticks!

Mr. Dion DiPoochy says all this traveling and decorating and painting sounds just too, too exhausting.
His recommendation is: take a nap.


Thanks to Julia for hosting ... her "Hooked On Houses" blog is a favorite.

Happy Friday! I hope our rain stops before the weekend -- Cass


  1. Oh, Cass, what a nice beach house with such potential...I think you already have some great ideas.....I'll put some thought into it and be back.


  2. So many ideas but I will start with the blank kitchen wall. I see it with a long narrow harvest table. Room on it for decorations and flowers, baskets full of fresh produce, maybe baskets underneath if it has a ledge to hold the potatoes, onions etc.
    You could put a tray with glassware and corkscrew or ice bucket. Storage and decoration in one shot.

    The blowsy curtains on the metal rod is a great look. It just softens everything.

    I like the idea of pale blues and greens throughout the house. I like continuity and I like colour. They don't have to all be the same strength. You can choose a paint and then use the same colour but only half tint for a variation on the colour in adjoining rooms. Pulls rooms together but also adds interest.

    Don't decide on paint until after you have put in the floors because it will affect your choice. My lovely mocha walls looked beautiful in the show home but like muck with my oak floors and pine furniture. I had to repaint and pulled the yellow hues from both woods for my choice of yellow paint instead.

    So many choices and hard to please so many different people. Good luck.
    Check out the picture of the island/table with a pot rack here:

    Also a colour palette but I would choose lighter shades of these colours:

    Have fun.

  3. What a great beach house. Thanks for taking us on a tour around the house. I am on the run - gotta spray another coat of paint on a frame. Will be back to get a better look at the pictures.

  4. I differ with Lucy on the blank kitchen wall. I think it is pretty narrow for traffic when I look at it from the living dining room. I would put a painted bright colored wood shelving unit to hold cookbooks, baskets, shells and some bright pottery bowls. There seem to be enough counter space on the other side. I would go with the pale greens and blues of sea glass colors. My color punch would be a few deep amethyst accessories. I like the cork floor idea, but I would carry through the whole lower level to avoid a chopped up look, and I would choose a shade that compliments the wood trim, cupboards and staircase. Area rugs could incorporate your sea glass and amethyst shades as a unifying effect. But then's my syle and we all have different but individually great ideas!

  5. You've got great bones to work with - the peaked ceiling is FABULOUS! I would leave it just as it is.

    Coat everything in paint - walls, cabinets, trim, stairs rail. It's the most inexpensive way to create a beach house feeling.

    Last year I created a very beachy look in the lower level of the YMCA Dream House that I work on each year. The #1 question I got was asking for the color of blue that I used on the wall - Fantasy Blue from Benjamin Moore. People loved it.

    For billowy curtains go to IKEA, I was just there yesterday and they have ones starting at just $4.99! The ones I bought were just $19.99 for the pair and they are 98" long.

    Use slip covers on existing furniture that will be staying.

    Google "love shacks" in Kennebunkport, Maine. They are little cottages that are all professionally decorated in different themes. You just might find one to inspire your makeover.

    Good luck!

  6. I will be no help at all, because I think it is quite lovely just as it is. I do think your suggested color scheme would be quite lovely at the beach - - -

  7. Lucky You!
    A blank slate project!

  8. Oh Cass, Just what you need. Another house to work on!!! But they ARE always a work in progress.

    You have everything you need right there. Now you just have to add your stamp! Because my home has smallish rooms and I tend to put too many things in them ;-) I try to keep the lake house clutter free. TRY is the key word here!! Just clean lines. I like different shades of cream for the walls and I have hardwood and stone floors. I add my punch with just a few pieces of floral furniture and then neutrals and then just keep accents limited to pillows and rugs. If things are neutral, you can switch things around alot. And if you are going to use the house in the winter, you can add warmer colors and textures.

    I'm in agreement with Sue on the long wall. Anything large will make it look like a hall.

    Great sources are Coastal Living (they have all the online shops if you see something you like) and Cottage Bungalow is great too. I have also heard great things about the furniture at IKEA and if this is just a weekend or seasonal place, it will take years to wear it out!

    Can't wait to follow you along on this adventure. Will there be a new blog? "That New House" LOL!!

    Glad you had a good time with your girls. I wish Anne Godspeed on her trip back to Guam.


  9. what fun! I have no ideas for you though. Sorry about that. I always take a loooooong time to ponder design ideas :)

  10. Cass what a charming beach home, can I come help? lol I love your idea, I love the idea of the moveable island, to move on to the deck, no toting all the food for family out just roll it! Love the colors. I going one day to do a beach theme room for hubby who love the beach. I been collecting, shells, ships, seagulls, oh ton of stuff. I love the white sheer curtain look. When I think beachy I think blue and aqua, white, and a little tan. Your tan furniture can be have pillows to make it lighter. The condo we stay at in Florida, have a lot of white rod iron tables and shelves. Your project will be great for your home is lovely! Have fun. I love the piece that going to your home! Lucky you! Reminder call Dad and see if he will buy a beach house. lol We almost did,when we were still working, but Hubby backed out. Now he wishes he had it for Destin is calling his name. lol
    Lady Katherine

  11. Oh Cass - lucky you to have such a fabulous beach house to work on! I would be inclined to the pale palette of whites, creams and soft blues and greens - I guess because I love the Scandinavian look and the gorgeous East Coast look from your wonderful country. You say that white wont suit a particular area but you could consider what I call a 'soft' white rather than the usual stark harsh modern white.

    Soft floaty curtains to filter bright sunlight from the house but still let lots of light in... candles flickering and glowing at night... sigh... And IKEA is very definitely a good place to start for inexpensive yet stylish fittings and furniture.

    Looking forward to watching the transformation happening! Warm wishes to you, Vxx

  12. Hi Cass,
    My brother and his wife have bamboo floors. They are very protective of them. I Don't know if they are fragile or not. If they are then I would think sand and water tracked in could be a problem. Just something to look into.

    I am planning to paint some old plastic chairs red too. I got a chuckle out of seeing your pics.
    If it stays dry for a bit today...maybe it can happen.

  13. HI Cass,
    Oooh, this was such a fun tour! How lucky you are to have this wonderful piece of property! I picture it very Nantucket, or Maine Cottagey. I like your ideas so far, I don't know about the bamboo floors (my hubby say's they are hard and durable). I think a bleached pine or something along that line would look fabulous too, maybe wide planks. You have some wonderful ideas and I know you will make it look fab. Hugs, Cindy

  14. Wonderful house, with amazing views and so much potential.

    We have a cottage on the north coast of Northern Ireland, but on a much smaller scale and without the stunning views (we can see the sea from the end of the lane!)

    I love cream walls, and also love it with duck egg blue or aqua. We have recently madeover our kitchen - big reveal hopefully next week, but you can see bits of it already on my blog.

    I recently found the blog A Beach Cottage which is VERY white, but has some beautiful seaside and nautical inspirations.

    Looking forward to seeing the choices you make.

  15. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! I soooo love your beach cottage!! It has wonderful potential! I especially love that big wall in the kitchen. I envision floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with dishware. I saw it in one of the Martha Stewart books years ago. I think you have the perfect wall for it! Add some beadboard to the back and...dreamy!


  16. Oh, how wonderful to have a beach house like this! It's got so much potential, too. And I loved reading all the ideas people have for it. You're so creative, I can't wait to see what you end up doing with it, Cass!

  17. Cass

    What a great house with great bones! I am wondering if you would not like Navajo White, a dark white/light cream from Benjamin Moore that really makes white molding stand out in contrast. I have it all over the house and we live near (but not on!) the water.

    There have been a few recent editions of House Beautiful you could take a look at...they did a few Hamptons houses, some not very big, but the pallettes were so very interesting!

    What a great adventure--well, a BIG great adventure! That house is not a bungalow and how nice you can still all enjoy it!


    PS...Peconic...OK, I am trying to guess which NF community! Heehee!

  18. Thank you for the visit Cass. I always pick up fun ideas from you.

    I'm positively in love with what you did in your master bedroom. It doesn't even seem like the same place. Love the paint choice and the way it pops against that beautiful white trim and that gorgeous wood floor.

    I think you're getting some really great advice so I'll step away and wait to see what happens.

    Blessings - Debbie

  19. What a gourgous house this is but it needs indeed updating. A cream or almost white and pale blue/duck egg combination does always go well in a nautical setting.A shame sis and dad won't allow you to paint the kitchen doors.Getting writ of all that brown would would make the house immediatly much fresher and summery.I like the ols swedisch style colours.For furnishing I would for sure go on the lookout on garage sales and so to find older pieces of furniture with a good shape that you can paint. With these kind of furniture you get that lived in old shabby chic style. Along the long wall I would put a narrow table or a sidebord.
    For the floor in the bedrooms I would't take bamboo or something. You should take real wood that can stand the sand that you bring with you on your shoes and so.
    For the kitchen I would combine lots of pale blue with touches or red and lots of white.
    Oh my hand are itching to have a go on such a wonderfull project.What a nice thing to have.

  20. Somebody already suggested Coastal Living, but I love your ideas too :)

    That house and it's views are amazing! I'm glad it wasn't sold.

  21. Hi Again...glad you had a link to this past post that I missed....Have you decorated the beach house yet?? It is fabulous but can sure use some perking up..A shame I don't live in Jersey anymore I would offer up my services....a decorator by trade and a beach lover since birth this house has so much potential....I love the high ceilings and theloft like area....perfect for hanging nautical flags and stuff....You should have tons of fun working on it......


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