Our Port Aransas Idea House on the Texas Gulf Coast is a light and airy beach retreat with lots of room for family and friends.
From our 2009 Texas Idea House, find the best design ideas and style tips for a coastal retreat. Some ideas are big, while
others are small and easily copied in your own home. See our favorite details room by room.
Find Inspiration in your Surroundings
Interior designer Paige Schnell of Tracery Interiors was inspired by the sunset and the water when she chose her color palette for the family room: aqua, persimmon, saffron, and white. The slipcovered sofa and chairs are punctuated with brightly patterned pillows, which pull the color scheme together. The aqua-and-white-striped rugs soften the room.
The casual slip-covered sofa in the family room backs up to this separate sitting area, with four comfy club chairs surrounding
a generous ottoman.
Chair Pillows Fabric: Rowlily in Palm Beach, from Calico Corners.
Add Instant Character
Give a brand-new house lived-in personality with walls covered in horizontal shiplap planking. Whitewashed for a casual look and coated with polyurethane to protect the finish, Tarpon Run’s planked walls evoke the ageless character of old Gulf-front beach houses. The horizontal lines mimic the outside railings and add texture to the large living spaces.
Make Small Spaces Live Big
A window-filled alcove functions like a dining room with a casual table, two slipcovered end chairs, and a pillow-topped banquette. The built-in bench and wall of windows make this small space seem much larger. Paige chose two vintage light fixtures, hung with nautical rope instead of standard chains, to illuminate the space.
Raise the Kitchen
“We created a stadium effect by raising the kitchen one step up,” explains architect Louis Nequette. The counters in the kitchen are standard height, but because of the elevation change, they reach bar height from the opposite side of the island in the family room.
Apply a Unique Backsplash
Paige designed a custom antiqued mirror backsplash for the stove. It reflects light and gives the cook a glimpse of the room behind her, or the guests seated at the bar. Installed in 14¾" x 17¼" pieces, the backsplash “has a casual look and is easy to keep up. It already has a vintage appearance, so you really can’t see spots on it,” says Paige. The aged mirror is a nice counterpoint to the sleek stainless steel stove and the bright white cabinets.
Paige balanced beauty and utility with her countertop choices―Calcutta marble on the island, and maple butcher block on either side of the stove. “The extra-large piece of white marble lightens up the space and is beautiful on top of the espresso-colored cabinets,” she says. As a contrast to the dark cabinets on the island, Paige selected unfinished cabinets for the rest of the kitchen and had them painted to match the crisp white trim. Sleek nickel hardware adds a modern touch to the Shaker-style cabinets.
Paige placed a painting by Florida artist Justin Gaffrey in the kitchen, beside the family room. His expressionistic style reflects the land and waters of the Gulf Coast.
The third-floor loft opens over the family room. Industrial-style stools line up along the kitchen bar.
“Whether two couples go in to buy the house, or the sole owners want to invite close friends, we’ve found multiple master
suites are popular,” says architect Louis Nequette.
In the downstairs master bedroom, Paige grounded the bright persimmon-and-white duvet with a soft blue coverlet. The squared-off headboard’s casual slipcover, made with a soft blue linen, can be removed and tossed in the laundry.
Main Wall Stencil Paint: Crimson Glow (2011-5) by Valspar.
Open Up the Room with a Glass Wall
Instead of a basic doorway between the downstairs bedroom and bath, the architects designed a glass wall as a divider, with grommeted curtain panels that can be pulled for privacy. The glass wall visually enlarges the space and adds a sense of calm to the dramatically stenciled room. The large floating bathtub invites relaxation and serenity.
Feminine accessories, such as the shell-encrusted mirror, add softness to the sleek marble bath.
Install a Built-In Headboard
To create an architectural headboard in a boxy space, Paige designed a 12-inch-deep, 5-foot-high wall along the back of the upstairs bedroom. She centered the bed in front of the wall, with industrial-style tables on either side. To fill out the eclectic look, she stacked books and leaned artwork atop the ledge.
The playful butterfly-patterned bed linens pull together the suite's saffron-and-gray color scheme.
Marry Exterior and Interior Styles
The upstairs master suite showcases a modern barn door, which slides along a track to close off the bath. Because the exterior architectural style of the house borrows from farmhouse vernacular, with board-and-batten siding and a galvanized roof, the barn door is a fitting interior detail. The bright saffron color ties in with the saffron-and-gray bedding and updates the look.
Barn Door Paint: Spring Moss (3007-3A) by Valspar.
The stucco fireplace shares a chimney with another one in the courtyard. This double-sided design helps to frame the casual entry. Two woven rockers, positioned next to the fireplace on the front porch, create the perfect place to unwind on a warm summer night.
Get Comfortable Outside
This second-floor porch, just above the front porch, has a sense of privacy, with solid railings and overhanging eaves.
Paige chose dark woven furniture to create casual seating areas on the house’s porches. The dark brown furniture is a stunning contrast to the pale green exterior of the house. The cushions, in aqua, green, and white stripes, are a color clue to what’s inside. The woven frames are made from durable resin to stand up to the corrosive salt air.
The second-floor Gulf-front porch, accessed from the family room, is the ideal spot from which to watch the sun rise and set. Two Adirondack chairs facing the water are the most fought-over seats in the house. Architects Jeff Dungan and Louis Nequette designed a horizontal rail, rather than conventional vertical pickets, for a seamless view.
Liven Up the Walls
Paige designed a horizontal stripe pattern for the playroom walls with vibrant shades of aqua, green, and pink. Tip: Use painter’s tape, a level, and lots of patience to get this look―you must wait for each row to dry before you move on to the next.
The architects exercised true space efficiency in this room by carving out even more sleeping space. Because this is the only room in the house with a television, the built-in double-wide daybed, covered by two twin mattresses, serves as video game perch by day and comfy bed by night. A pair of beanbags rounds out the daytime seating.
Paint Stripes on Wall (from top): Lake Country (5003-5C); La Fonda Mirage (5003-5B); Deep Pink (WV35016); and Jalapeno Jelly (6005-6A), all by Valspar.
Use Every Inch
Influenced by train bunks, the architects designed a row of three built-in beds on the third floor loft, each lit with a marine-style sconce and closed off with curtains. Storage areas for the bunks line up across the hall, with a cubby and a drawer for each bed.
Built-in cubbies and drawers are great for toy storage or as a place for kids to unpack suitcases.
On the open landing, Paige placed a counter-height table so that kids can still see over the railing to the beach while playing a game.
Incorporate Your Surroundings
Paige arranged a collection of scenic photographs, taken in Port Aransas, against a bright aqua wall in the stairwell.
Create a Mudroom
Built-in benches with hooks above them turn this entry hall into a useful mudroom. The polypropylene rug is perfect for such a high-traffic area.
Dress it Up
Paige turned her attention to even the most utilitarian room, hanging a sleek glass pendant above the washer and dryer.
Amp Up Your Storage Space
With rigs to hang kayaks and a sink to clean freshly caught fish, this hardworking garage takes beach storage to new heights.