It seems simple but few people get it exactly right. When choosing paint, furnishings and decorative items for your beach house look to your specific surrounds, for example choose colours that can be found on the New South Wales south coast of Australia, not the colours of a postcard of a beach in Hawaii, if that’s where you’re located. If the beach near your home has coarse sand with lots of shells or a really clear water rather than turquoise ocean, echo these colours inside to create a seamless and ultimately calming and cohesive look in your home.
While there is nothing wrong with a few seashells in a bowl on the coffee table be careful not to go overboard with your seaside theme to ensure you love and feel comfortable in your beach house for years to come. For example, instead of a fish printed quilt cover or blanket on your bed look for a woollen throw with a texture that subtly reminds you of a fishing net or seaweed.
Generally you won’t be living in your beach house full time but bringing a packed bag or suitcase for weekends or holidays so consider this when selecting pieces to furnish and decorate its rooms. Why not include a special cabinet for resting your suitcase on during your stay or select a wardrobe large enough to hang your weekend’s clothes whilst storing your bag out of sight. Similarly you will likely bring with you from home books, magazines and other reading material so leave some surfaces free of decorative items to stack and enjoy the items you have packed. You also might find yourself renting out your seaside home for some extra income and the last thing your guests will want is cluttered surfaces and over stacked shelves.
It can be tempting to go for an all white, tiled space at a beach house because it seems easy to clean and maintain with sandy footed residents but the reality is you won’t only be in your beach house when the sun is shining. A beach house should feel comfortable year round, day or night so add warmth and comfort to the space to make it just as lovely to visit for a mid winter dinner party of evening of movie watching. You can do this without your beach house looking like an alpine retreat by simply adding fabrics in a variety of textures but sticking to a light and neutral colour scheme. For example a low pile wool rug on a tiled or timber floor will be easy to maintain and won’t cause a room to feel out of place by the sea. A lightweight woollen throw and a few patterned cushions on a sofa will add comfort without cluttering a living room.
Whether you are miles from the actual beach or your front deck touches the sand of a beach, the idea of a beach-themed home is that it should evoke feelings of relaxation and being on holiday. To avoid a space feeling stuffy and formal mix a variety of textures and fabrics and furniture styles such as two different coloured linen sofas, a woollen throw, rattan chair, some mis-matched patterned cushions and timber side tables. Avoid having everything too matching or monochrome to allow you and your guests to feel at ease (or on vacation) in your space.
Illustration: Barry Allen Patenaude
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