How do you redesign a well-loved family home with years upon years of fond memories? This was in the forefront of our minds when our Park Perfect clients returned for a refresh of their beloved family beach house. It’s always a show of great trust when we are asked back by past clients - it tells us that we've achieved our goal of understanding our clients and delivering a space that reflects both their needs and their tastes.
The beach house had been in our clients’ family for decades - enough summers that their children had grown and begun to return with their own children. And as the years had accumulated happy summer memories, so too had the home accrued objects. Our clients had outgrown their previous cottage-inspired decor. They were longing for a cleaner, brighter, more sophisticated aesthetic that paid tribute to the natural views of the beach and bay. At the same time, our clients were sentimentally attached to the old beach house; its looks, objects, and memories. Our goal was to create a coastal vibe that was more unique and unexpected than your typical beach house, while paying homage to the layers of memories the family had collected over the years.
The bay acts almost like an extension on the house itself, with stunning views of the water mere steps away. We wanted the design to reflect this connection to nature. That meant taking our cues from the blues of the water & the sandy tones of the beach, and incorporating natural textures of rush, rattan, and burl.
A major launching point for our design was the custom Theresa Losa painting that originally hung in the primary bedroom. Our clients had commissioned this piece to include each member of their family, and the restful coastal color palette of this sentimental piece informed much of our design going forward. We pulled tones of sandy taupe, soft coral, and calming blue from this piece, as well as taking pattern inspiration from the blocks of color and striped umbrellas.
The beloved painting now has a place of prominence in the new home's entryway.
The bayside view is highlighted best in the home’s great room, an expansive living, kitchen, and dining space with a wall of windows overlooking the water. As well as being the functional heart of the home, this room is in a place of prominence - when you crest the top of the entry stairs, you are treated to the stunning view of this vast room spread before you (not to mention the water beyond!). This view is crucial and sets the mood for the entire home.
The Great Room - After
We preserved the layout of this room, as it functioned well for our clients, but tweaked furniture proportions and positioning to improve the flow of the space. One major change was to refinish the flooring - by sanding and bleaching the existing wood floors, we created a more washed-out, beachy tone reminiscent of driftwood.
Living Room Mood Board
Another major transformation was the addition of shiplap. We were looking for a way to make the space more finished, & shiplap walls were the solution to make it look sharper & more detailed without adding in more “stuff”. Because of the room layouts, it made sense to continue the shiplap up into the main stairwell, which carries all through the house. Our clients were apprehensive about the shiplap at first, but spotted it later during a home tour on vacation and loved the effect it had on the space. The elevated surfaces called for minimal adornment, and we carefully considered each piece that was hung back up, like the living room's intricately beaded mirror that added textural interest without cluttering the walls.
Living Room - Before
The existing layout of the living room mostly worked as-is, but we selected furniture with sleeker profiles that allowed for better movement between spaces. Embracing the coastal motif meant stepping away from the existing country palette dominated by green and red.
Living Room - After
Since the living room is the home's most utilized space, all of its fabrics were selected to be durable and bleach cleanable for grandchildren and family gatherings. We wanted to strike a balance between the warmth and liveliness of color with the restful serenity of neutrals, exemplified here by the play between the calm white sofa and the energetic patterned loveseat. The main sofa has a second set of slipcovers to be rotated out while the other is being laundered.
Living Room Desk - After
We opted to reposition the desk from behind the sofa to looking out over the water for soothing views while working, and selected a shallower piece to leave nice clearances between furnishings. The desk chair does double-duty as extra seating for the dining table.
Living Room Built-Ins - Before
A rarely-used fireplace was removed in favor of custom built-ins, wallpapered on the interior with panels of watercolor ombre.
Living Room Built-Ins - After
We created a custom ottoman from a vintage rug, and selected coordinating fabrics with a modern take on traditional block-printed textiles.
Living Room - After
The great room faces west, which means beautiful sunset views. This also means that the room gets absolutely blasted with afternoon sun via the expansive wall of windows. Our clients needed UV protection not only during their summer evenings but in the off-season to protect their furniture from sun damage. Our solution was a set of solar shades, motorized for ease of use, which would cut the UV light but preserve the outside view. The shades can be raised and lowered with the touch of a button. For softness and a finished feel, we added bespoke linen sheers with a delicate embroidered pattern.
Kitchen - Before
The existing kitchen was functional, but needed tweaking to lighten the space. This "before" photo perfectly illustrates the impact of bleaching the flooring - it's so dark! The black countertops also weighed down the beachy airiness of the space.
Kitchen - After
We kept the original cabinets but refreshed them with modern hardware. The perimeter countertops were replaced with warm wood, and we added a fully custom wood island with quartz countertop to further brighten the space. Our cabinetmaker created a custom range hood to match the existing cabinetry, which helped unify the space and create height. A vintage runner adds warmth and texture, and a motorized linen shade was made to coordinate with the living room drapery. Modern glass and brass lighting adds the finishing touch.
Our clients' kitchen counter stools in a bleached wood tone were reupholstered with hand-printed linen.
Kitchen into Dining - Before
The existing dining room was dominated by the large red bar hutch. This beloved fixture embraced change with a fresh coat of blue paint, new modern hardware, and a bright white quartz countertop to tie in with the kitchen island.
Kitchen into Dining - After
The lighting was modernized by replacing the black fixture with a whitewashed wood chandelier. We knew we could fit more seating for our clients' large family, so we had a custom table built with leaf extensions to accommodate up to 12. The narrow profile makes the table easy to move around.
Dining Room Mood Board
A key element in this design was the Turkish Tulu rug we sourced for the space - a special piece which balanced modern, minimalist color-blocking with a vintage heritage. The rug was tailored to perfectly fit within the dining space. Modern teak indoor-outdoor chairs with rush back & seats were customized with loose cushions in a durable patterned fabric woven in navy and cream.
Proportion was again important here, as we custom-designed a low credenza that would provide storage while preserving the views of the water. Modern brass hardware and caned inserts add texture and interest.
Exiting the great room brings you back to the stairwell, leading to a den and guest bedroom on the same floor.
The den was a cozy space where the family did most of their TV watching. The goal was to create a warm, inviting space, perfect for family movie nights. We wanted to maximize seating with a custom sectional, sized to perfectly fill the entire room while fitting nicely under the windows. (In performance fabrics to keep the sofa safe from errant snacks and spills, of course!)
Den - After
Our main inspiration in this space was the Rebecca Atwood watercolor wallpaper. The enveloping pink waves makes it feel snug and cozy, like you're sitting inside a giant conch shell! We nailed the mix of traditional and modern in this space by pairing the modern organic wallpaper with a warm toned hand-woven rug with casual diamond patterning.
Den Mood Board
Den - After (Detail)
The wall sconces were crucial, as they are the only source of light aside from the window. We sourced modern brass sconces, shaped to mimic the constellation Gemini and custom powder coated in a warm sandy tone. Between the soft light of these sconces and the warm blush tones of the wallpaper, this room just glows.
Den - After
Twin pouf ottomans in braided raffia add natural texture and a place to set drinks. The nautical texture continues in the custom roman shades. Soft watercolor patterns continue onto the throw pillows in a soothing palette of blue and blush.
Adjacent to the den was a guest bedroom suite, referred to by us as the "king" bedroom.
"King" Guest Room - After
This room greatly benefitted from a change in layout. We moved the bed from the shared den wall (goodbye movie noise!) to the opposite wall underneath the windows. Nestling the bed under the short, wide bay of windows allowed both to share the spotlight while eliminating the "dead zone" of wall space beneath. A field of blue-grey grasscloth wallpaper envelops the room with calming texture. The wool and jute blend rug in this space is a perennial Design Manifest favorite - it plays well with so many styles!
The pattern mix in this room is our favorite in the home. The drapery fabric is a hand-drawn ink and watercolor pattern inspired by Italian Deruta pottery. We loved it so much we continued it onto the headboard! A mix of printed pillows with global-inspired patterns further enrich and add texture to the bed.
We tucked a chair in the far corner, out of the flow of traffic and near a window for cozy reading time. Eliminating one nightstand made room for a handsome desk, and we refreshed our clients' existing painting with a fresh frame to accent the desk wall. We used sconces rather than bedside lamps to give visitors more room to spread out.
A custom-built credenza was wall-mounted to make the most of the floor space, with modern brass pulls in a playful surfboard-inspired shape.
The final guest bedroom was at the top floor of the house - nicknamed the "queen" bedroom.
Layout was once again the name of the game. This room featured a diagonally oriented bed with bright country vibe textiles. We knew we could better optimize the space with a more functional floor plan and thoughtfully sized furnishings. Our clients had outgrown the shabby-chic decor, and the iron bedframe & black accents did nothing to evoke a sense of beachy brightness.
"Queen" Guest Room - After
We again aligned the bed with the window wall, allowing us room to fit a king-sized bed! Embracing the curves in this room was both for beauty and for function. The rounded edges allow more freedom of movement around the small room without fear of bumping a corner. We found the perfect upholstered bed and created a custom wood plinth to bring it up to a more comfortable height.
"Queen" Guest Room Mood Board
We searched long and hard for a cheerful blue wallpaper that would be soothing and interesting without competing with the other textiles. The bed pillows are covered in handmade block print linens and a rustic textured woven stripe in shades of coral. Natural textures were added via the wall-to-wall carpet, window shades, and a fringed abaca mirror.
Desk nook after
A collected seashell art piece, made by our clients' dear friend, is given a place of honor over a custom desk in navy faux shagreen. Brass hardware and lighting add a touch of modern glam.
Like the ebb and flow of the sea, our creative journey centered the push and pull of cherished memories and the desire for a more contemporary, authentic version of our clients' present selves. We envisioned in this home a harmonious blend of nostalgia and modernity, of color and neutral, of the traditional and the unexpected. Our mission to redesign this beloved family beach house was a heartfelt tribute to years of accumulated memories, and a bright look into many more joyful summers to come.
Photography by Raquel Langworthy