60 Beautiful Beach Cottage Ideas To Inspire Your Dream Retreat

Pink Cottage Among Palm Trees in Pass Christian, MS
Photo: Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Beach cottages hold a place in our memories as the houses where we spent our favorite sun-filled days. There is always excitement in the air when heading to the beach, whether we're staying in a sophisticated four-bedroom or a small, rustic summer retreat. Families escape to the beach to relax and unwind, so the home's personality often reflects that same lazy-days-of-summer attitude.

Whether you choose to visit or purchase a beach cottage of your own, these oceanside retreats will inspire your imagination. These cottages include some of our favorite easygoing styles, from relaxing porches to beachy bedrooms and kitchens. Some are historic homes that underwent a transformation, while others are newly built homes designed to feel like they've been on the island forever. Take a look at these well-loved, sun-drenched beach houses, whether you're looking at real estate listings or redecorating your new vacation home.

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Paint Your Cottage Seashell Peach

Pink Cottage Among Palm Trees in Pass Christian, MS
Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

Luana and Ted Frois' 100-year-old beach cottage in Pass Christian, Mississippi survived two hurricanes, so they felt passionate about sustaining the historic roots of their small cottage. That included keeping the cottage's original exterior paint color. "The rich peach reminded me of the inside of a Gulf shell that I could've found on the beach," says Louana. "It inspired and communicated a serenity that we didn't want to lose."

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Honor The Home's History

Wood-clad Master Bedroom with White Four-Poster Bed
Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

"The Froises wanted to keep the natural wood walls, ceilings, and floors exposed to honor what was original to the home," says New Orleans designer Grace Kaynor. "To me, that is authentic beauty that you just can't re-create." The interior feels much like an artfully restored boat. White pieces like the four-poster bed by Noir Furnituremake the rooms feel brighter.

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Collect Comfortable Furnishings

Rattan Daybed in Wood-clad Den
Dane Tashima; Styling: Page Mullins

A rattan daybed can be used for seating while hosting visitors or as a comfortable place to nap. They loaded it up with throw pillows and bolsters and recovered the mattress in a blue patterned fabric. "The more polished embroidered fabric we chose gave the piece the über-custom look we desired," Kaynor says.

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Create An Outdoor Retreat

Back exterior with pool of 1894 officer's quarters house in Sullivan's Island, SC
Julia Lynn; Styling: Dakota Willimon

Donivon and Anne Glassburn built an addition on the back of this 1894 former officer's quarters on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, to provide more living space and surround the resort-like pool.

"The whole plan was to bring the house back to the original look on the exterior and add a few modern touches," notes Glassburn. They added a 10-foot-deep porch, hefty shutters, and dramatic rooflines that terminate in trusses replicating the original ones.

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Play With Pastels

Builtin sectional in pink wallpapered room
Julia Lynn; Styling: Dakota Willimon

Every beach home needs a hangout spot. Interior designer Allison Elebashconverted their upstairs bedroom into a den with a deep custom sectional and brightly colored pillows. She installed Thibaut's Kasai wallpaper for its coral-like texture, providing a vibrant backdrop for the room.

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Make A Multi-Use Room

Combined entry and dining room space in 1894 Officer's Quarters House in Sullivan's Island, SC
Julia Lynn; Styling: Dakota Willimon

This space is both an everyday entryway and a special-occasion dining room. Elebash notes how the round table leaves ample room for passing through and mimics the look of a round table in a grand foyer. An inexpensive seagrass rug protects a floor that sees a lot of foot traffic. "The room can be really nice or casual," Donivon says. "We love that."

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Layer Soft Textiles

In this Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, master bedroom, it’s all about a muted and romantic color palette.
Photo: Laurey Glenn; Stylist: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

In another Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, master bedroom, the homeowners used a muted and romantic color palette. Layers upon layers of soft textiles—including the geometric fabric wrapping the headboard—make this a comfortable place to lean back with the latest beach read. The natural wood lamp looks like it was bleached in the sun.

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Use Natural Hues

Maison Studio WaterColor, FL Mint Green Beach House Front Exterior with Bike
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

When Nikki Colquitt purchased a new cottage on the tree-lined streets of a community in Watercolor, Florida, she wanted it to feel homier than a beach rental. She hired interior designers Allison Smith and Anne Scott Shelley of Maison Studios, who layered the house with celadon hues and soft neutrals. "My favorite colors are blue-green tones and the shades of old wicker and worn rugs—mostly hues you'd see outdoors here," she says.

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Clad Walls In Shiplap

Maison Studio WaterColor, FL Neutral Kitchen with Shiplap Wall Backsplash
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

The designers extended the shiplap wall paneling from floor to ceiling to call attention to the high ceilings. The natural fibers in the furniture and the gray-green cabinet color make the kitchen elegant but relaxed. The room feels cool and airy even on Florida's 100-degree days.

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Bring The Outdoors In

Maison Studio WaterColor, FL Back Porch Outdoor Living Space
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

The rear porch is basically another living room and dining area, with ceiling fans to provide a cool breeze on sweltering days. Inside-out living feels seamless, especially when all the French doors are wide open.

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Take A Dip

Maison Studio WaterColor, FL Nautical Bathroom with Fish Wallpaper
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

In the bathroom, the kids can wash up or bathe while surrounded by schools of fish. The fun aquatic wallpaper from Cole & Son doesn't overwhelm the room since it's printed in soft neutrals.

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Double Up Beds

Main Studio WaterColor, FL Pink Bedroom
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

In a long, narrow room, bunk beds are often the first piece of furniture to come to mind, but the Colquitts were looking for another solution for their two daughters. The designers got creative with a 13-foot-long upholstered headboard for the two twin beds (each with a trundle underneath).

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Keep Within Driving Distance

St. Teres, FL Beach House Front Exterior
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Frances Bailey

Haile McCollum and her husband, Ben, a Thomasville native, were seeking a spot where the family could have on-the-water experiences, and this beach cottage in St. Teresa, Florida, fit the bill. "Close proximity was the dealmaker. We wanted to be able to leave our house on Friday afternoons in time to catch the sunset," says Haile.

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Go Nautical

St. Teresas, FL Beach House Entryway and Stairwell
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Frances Bailey

They painted the treads in the entryway a deep nautical blue, then decided to take the theme even further. "We removed the stairwell spindles and replaced them with hearty Manila rope," says Haile. "I was leery of going overly nautical, but to my surprise, it added a playful texture to the house."

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Add An Outdoor Sink

St. Teresa, FL Beach House Screened in Porch Sink
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Frances Bailey

On the screened back porch, Haile hung a sign painted with the name of the house, "Why Knot," over a cast-iron sink that she salvaged from her own 1850s home in Thomasville. "It's great for everything from cleaning fish to deveining shrimp to filling dog bowls," says Haile.

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Make Room For More

St. Teresa, FL Beach House Kids' Bunk Room Bedroom
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Frances Bailey

Haile encourages her sons to bring friends along, but they needed space to accommodate their sleepovers. "We had the bunk beds custom built—it gives the boys and their friends a place to pile in—to stay up late and sleep in. Our house is meant to be welcoming, so we have loads of extra blankets in the closet for a reason," says Haile.

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Move Dining Outdoors

St. Teresa, Florida Beach House Outdoor Dining Area
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Frances Bailey

To maximize sleeping and living space, the family elected not to have an indoor dining room. They gather to eat around the trestle table and benches on the porch. In bad weather, the family eats in the entryway around a round table with chairs pulled from the den.

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Look To The Past

Exterior of Kiawah Island Home Designed by Mark Maresca
Brie Williams; Styling: Page Mullins

Megan and Matt Lineberger worked with architect Mark Maresca to build a vacation home on South Carolina's idyllic Kiawah Island that took inspiration from prerevolutionary Charleston homes. "We immediately connected with Mark's vision of a 'new-old' house that felt at one with its surroundings," says Megan. The home has historic Lowcountry features like a limewashed brick foundation, functional shutters, and beaded lap siding.

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Prepare To Entertain

Soft Coastal Color Kitchen
Brie Williams; Styling: Page Mullins

The kitchen has plenty of space for guests (and your morning coffee) at the marble-topped oak island and banquette. "The kitchen was created to read as an old cookhouse that was adjoined to the main home over time," says Maresca. "The lines and millwork are simpler, but the playful palette enlivens those 'old' bones."

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Find Durable But Artful Pieces

Neutral Modern Casual Living Room
Brie Williams; Styling: Page Mullins

The living room is stocked with sturdy vintage furniture and old antiques that can handle some wear and tear. "We knew the living room would have to be a bit toned down because of the number of children who would be running through the space," explains interior designer Cortney Bishop. At the same time, "it really became an art collection of furniture."

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Set Up A Cozy Hangout

Cozy den with patterned sofa and ocean view
Brie Williams; Styling: Page Mullins

In the upstairs sitting room, Bishop prioritized coziness at every turn. The extra-plush sofa is made for sinking into, while the patterns in this room are forgiving of scuffs and spills. "This is our children's go-to room for everything from breakfast to movie night," explains Megan.

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Create An Indoor-Outdoor Bar

Back Porch
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

We built our 2017 Idea House on Bald Head Island, North Carolina, a car-free, accessible-only-by-boat barrier island. The Cape Fear River borders it to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Homes are surrounded by porches so you can catch the ocean breezes. Here we took indoor-outdoor living to another level: The kitchen's bifold windows fold open like a drive-through window, providing easy access to the outdoor serving area and the grilling station tucked in the corner. The window's striped cabana-like valance is double-sided, so you can admire it from inside and out.

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Go For Beach Chic

Yellow Bedroom
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

"This room is very adult and beach chic. The yellow has a bit of brown in it, which works well with the natural bamboo and rattan elements in here," says designer Lindsey Coral Harper of LCH Interiors. "I had the wainscot built 54 inches tall so the wallpaper wouldn't overwhelm the space." Sandy-hued furniture and fabrics give the room a relaxed vibe.

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Reuse Historic Elements

Dining Room
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

The chocolate brown floor in the living and dining area comes from century-old joists salvaged from the Wilson Tobacco Company in Wilson, North Carolina. The flooring is fitting in a new beach house that looks to historic homes for inspiration. The dining chairs come from Palecek, a company that uses natural materials in its one-of-a-kind furnishings.

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Make Porches A Second Home

Exterior Back
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

The house has over 1,300 square feet of outdoor living space among the ample porches surrounding the home. Architect Eric Moser says he always treats porches like outdoor rooms. To provide enough room for furnishings, make them at least 8 by 8 feet.

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Add Pops Of Color

Twin Bath
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

In the bath, Harper selected Suvi wallcovering in Clementine for a vibrant pop of tropical color. The scalloped green mirror by Oomph complements the wallpaper's clementine print. She also painted the bathroom floor in a deep green hue.

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Capture A Bird's Eye View

2022 Idea House primary bedroom patio

We built our 2022 Idea House just outside the fishing village of Oriental, North Carolina, where the Neuse River flows into the Pamlico Sound. While the primary bedroom is often situated on the first floor, a second-story setup was the only way to go with a view like this. "We wanted this suite to look out on the harbor and to be on its own, away from the action," notes architect William Court of the Court Atkins Group. "Moving it upstairs to capture those views became really important."

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Embrace Nostalgia

Idea House 2022 downstairs guest room

Interior designer Charlotte Lucas painted the wainscoting and trim in the downstairs guest room in a wide swath of soothing blue and then wallpapered the room in Saybrook Check Spa Blue by Thibaut. "It's such a classic pattern," she says, fitting for a nostalgic red-white-and-blue palette.

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Build A Reading Nook

2022 Idea House artist's studio

Six nooks and crannies are scattered around the house for a little extra breathing room. This Marvin Skycove window serves as a cushy window seat for journaling or napping. Without adding any floor space, the nook provides another 20 square feet of room to spread out.

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Look To The Land

Look to the Land
Laurey W. Glenn

A breezy coastal spirit sweeps through every inch of Stephanie and Eddie Street's Kiawah Island home in the Lowcountry. The sisal rug hints at the marsh grasses in the area. "Sisal is so right for the Lowcountry," says interior designer Elizabeth Newman. The alligator skull is a reminder of the natural environment, as are the palms and fern-patterned pillows.

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Stay Serene

Coastal Lowcountry Dining Room
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

The home's cool palette of grays, blues, and pops of bright green along with neutrals keeps the color scheme serene. "We didn't want to compete with the natural environment," Stephanie says. Water-resistant vinyl cushions and striped slipcovers provide a nautical touch to the refined but relaxed dining room.

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Connect With Guests

Beachy White Shiplap Kitchen
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

"We wanted people to feel like they could just walk in and hang out," Stephanie says of their bright white kitchen. All of the living areas connect to each other so family members can flow from one room to another. The woven plastic seats on the island barstools hold up well to wet bathing suits.

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Combine Sleep And Play


This bunk room is for more than sleeping, with plenty of room to spread out and play games. The closet between the built-in bunks is a clever use of space, while each bed is outfitted with a light for late-night reading.

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Blend In To Your Surroundings

Pre-Fab Fabulous
Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

You would never imagine this Gulf Coast cottage is a pre-fabricated home. "It follows the concept of factory-built but is hand-assembled," says homeowner Onno Horn, who shares the Blue Mountain Beach, Florida, home with Jennifer Hunter. He's a custom builder, and she's a designer, so they added personal tweaks to the design to better fit their lifestyle. "Visually, you're getting a mass-produced box from the factory," says Onno. "Adding historical details on-site gives interest."

"We didn't want our house to stick out," adds Jennifer. "We wanted it to look like it had always been here." She based the exterior colors on the native scrub oaks and palmetto leaves in their surroundings.

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Maximize Your Workspace

Kitchen Details
Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

Onno added a third, smaller module to their cottage to house a combination kitchen and breakfast nook. A large framed opening keeps everything airy and well-connected, while the closed-front cabinets and open shelves maximize space in the small kitchen. Then Jennifer brought in a small butcher-block island.

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Design For Durability

Design for Durability
Photo by: Laurey W. Glenn, Styling by: Elizabeth Demos

Onno installed white oak planks with a limed finish—perfect for disguising sand tracked in from the beach. A clear wax on top keeps it sealed and durable. The light walls and furnishings make the room feel open and spacious.

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Welcome Them In

2019 Idea House Resource Guide Front Porch
Laurey W. Glenn

We built the 2019 Idea House on a slice of the Florida coast with a rich history, sweeping oak trees, and breathtaking water views. Crane Island, Florida, is a new development that prides itself as much on vernacular building as it does on preserving its wetlands. We painted the house to match the paths of crushed oyster shells and borrowed the porch's star detailing from a nearby Fernandina Beach home.

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Create A View From Every Vantage Point

2019 Idea House Resource Guide Upper Hallway and Upper Front Porch
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Liz Strong

Since the back of the house faces the water, "We oriented every room for the view, and a proper foyer would have closed it off," says Historical Concepts' Clay Rokicki. A screen of columns separates the front hall and focuses the eye on exterior windows.

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Bring In Nautical Touches

2019 Idea House Bunk Room Hall Bathroom Sink
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Liz Strong

There's no question this is a seaside bathroom once you see the rope-framed mirror. Southern Living Style Director turned decorator Heather Chadduck Hillegas created the custom blue-and-white striped floor pattern using penny tiles. The skirted farm sink sets a casual tone in the kids' bathroom while conserving space.

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Use Comfortable Classics

2019 Idea House Living Room
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Liz Strong

The expansive living room feels comfortable because of the wood ceiling beams and the V-groove wall paneling. The room is furnished with classic armchairs and tables, but the 110-inch-long Lee Industries sofa provides plenty of space to spread out.

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Add A Tropical Backdrop

2019 Idea House Kitchen
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Liz Strong

Hillegas brought in the tropics by installing sepia-toned Gracie wallpaper over the range. A thin layer of plexiglass covers the wallpaper for protection and easy care. The lively image adds drama to an otherwise sedate room.

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Stock The Bar

2019 Idea House Bar Cart
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Liz Strong

The screened porch is on the side of the house where you can enjoy views of the water or sit near the fireplace to stay warm. Year-round outdoor living calls for a fully stocked bar station for guests. A larger mirror above the bar reflects light and the view.

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Bring On The Texture

What She Did: Dining Room
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Designer Jeannette Whitson reinvented this Kiawah Island, South Carolina, beach house as a family-friendly hangout with a fresh helping of white paint and texture. "When you're working in such a limited color range, patina and texture become very important design elements," Whitson says. The dining room features an antique French walnut trestle table, rattan chairs, and a sculptural cork chandelier.

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Accessorize With Found Objects

What She Did: Living Room
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Bleached oak, sea glass, baskets, zinc sculptures, and found objects all add to the character of the home. She also brought in a pair of petrified-wood side tables. "It takes thousands of years to turn the wood into stone, preserving the wood grain in a highly polished surface," Whitson says. "We had to install supports below where they each sit, as they weigh upwards of 600 pounds each."

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Let In The Light

What She Did: Kitchen
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

In just about every room, Whitson installed eclectic lighting such as the vintage lantern over the kitchen island. But the windows in this circular turret provide the dominant light source by allowing sunlight to stream in all day. White countertops and cabinets make the room even brighter.

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Adopt A Lived-In Look

Enclosed Porch
Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

Kay Stanley and Curt Seymour built their brand new Daufuskie Island house to look as if it has endured decades of salty air and sandy feet. The couple used varying window styles and board widths to make it appear like the house was added on to over time. The enclosed porches also give that impression. "When someone enters our home and says, 'This house is in great shape for its age,' we'll know we hit the mark," says Kay.

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Highlight Antiques

Keep it Casual
Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

"As with the home's exterior, I wanted the interior to seem as if it has been collected and pulled together over time," says Kay. The couple brought antiques east from Kansas City and combined them with painted pieces, flea market finds from Savannah, and antique reproductions for a casual beach look. For instance, the primary bedroom features a spool bed, a painted side table, distressed artwork, and various vintage finds.

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Accent With One-Of-A-Kind Lighting

Choose Authentic Lighting
Photo: Lucas Allen, Styling: Elizabeth Demos

The home's lighting includes electrified gas lanterns, rewired and repurposed antiques, and vintage reproductions for an authentic period look. Adairsville, Georgia, lighting guru Eloise Pickard created custom lighting throughout much of the home. "Each of Eloise's fixtures is absolutely a highlight," says Kay.

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Used Weathered Finishes

New (Old) White Cabinets

Earthy tones inspired by the island create a timeless look. Thinned paint coats walls, ceilings, and cabinetry with a patina of weathered wood. "The colors in this house are all meant to blend in, not overshadow," Kay says. "If the paint had been solid, it would have looked too new and stark."

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Soothe With Blues

"The views of the Gulf are spectacular here, and the water always seems to be clear," says Powell, who went for frosty blue draperies at Elizabeth's suggestion. "I usually opt for lighter, ivory window treatments, but this blue really draws your eye out t
Photo: Annie Schlechter; Styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty

In this Gulf Coast home, soothing blue tones echo the expansive water view just outside the windows. The palette is repeated throughout the room, from the frosty blue drapes to the stain-resistant fabrics.

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Wow With Wallpaper

"My personality, the way I like to decorate, is a little whimsical," says Elizabeth. "And powder rooms are great places for doing something that's a little bit "out there."" Enter the aqua, watery world of a cheeky, gilded puffer fish "swimming" around th
Photo: Annie Schlechter; Styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty

While beach homes often feel serene, you can always go big with bold wallpaper in the powder room. Try one with a large-scale, repeating motif—we love this gilded puffer fish find—and pair it with metallic accents like sconces and an antiqued mirror.

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Stay True To The Neighborhood

Update the Best of the Past
Annie Schlechter

Designer Blair Gordon gave this lovely Key West cottage a modern update but kept the exterior true to the historic neighborhood. He used a conch shell pink on the siding, tempered the paint with a dark wood stain for the shutters, and painted the porch floors gray. "The bright color makes the house stand out," he says.

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Use Iridescent Finishes

Sleek and Modern Kitchen
Annie Schlechter

The kitchen's iridescent mosaic tile backsplash, capiz shell pendant light fixture, and îpe hardwood floors are a sleek version of tropical island style. The large-scale fixtures paired with the dark wood floors, all-white walls, countertops, and cabinetry give the classic materials a touch of the unexpected.

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Punch Up Neutrals

Neutral Palette Living Room
Annie Schlechter

A warm palette of cream, beige, and taupe is a natural fit for the living room's vintage style. Geometric shapes, such as the honeycomb pattern on the throw pillows or the trellis motif on the rug, add a graphic punch to the muted palette. A range of textures, from the woven blinds to the brass lamp to the lacquered coffee table, also enlivens the space.

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Go Oversized

Scale it Up
Annie Schlechter

Even in a small space, oversized furniture can be used to make a dramatic statement. To make the headboard in the bedroom, Blair enlarged a photograph of an antique French mirror, laser-cut a piece of wood to match the shape, and upholstered it in a large-scale print. Nailhead trim echoes the detailing and highlights the headboard's silhouette.

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Honor Coastal Culture

Beach-Friendly Bunkroom
Annie Schlechter

Nothing says "beach house" like a wall-mounted sailfish. Blair turned that coastal icon into a modern sculpture in the bunkroom with glossy white paint. "It wouldn't be Key West without a little conch culture, but there's no reason to go overboard," he says. The nautical bunks also got the white paint treatment.

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Fit Them All In

600 Square Foot Yellow Beach Cottage in Seaside, FL
Joseph de Leo; Styling: Liz Strong

Nashville-based Hannah Crowell used her experience with highly efficient design when decorating this 600-square-foot vacation home in Seaside, Florida. A Dallas couple and their three young children, plus occasional visiting grandparents, wanted to find ways they could all sleep under its roof. "The family fell in love with the house's charm, and it was one of the original homes in Seaside, which makes it extra special," Crowell says.

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Right-Size The Furniture


With minimal square footage, the open living-and-dining area ran the risk of feeling cluttered. Crowell designed the thin-silhouette settee, which is paired with a small blonde-wood accent chair. "That Ligne Roset table is really cool because it transforms into all different shapes—long and skinny or more of a flower," Crowell says.

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Tuck In Appliances

600 Square Foot Beach Cottage White Kitchen with Teal Smeg Fridge
Joseph de Leo; Styling: Liz Strong

The kids sleep in a loft, while the dining banquette can be converted to a bed. Apartment-sized appliances squeeze perfectly into the kitchen. "I say it's similar to designing for a ship, but to be honest, I've never been on a yacht," Crowell admits. "It's more like designing for a tour bus."

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Add An Outdoor Shower

600 Square Foot Beach Cottage Outdoor Shower
Joseph de Leo; Styling: Liz Strong

The tiny beach cottage doesn't skimp on the necessities, with lots of covered porch seating and an outdoor shower. The shower is critical for washing off sandy feet after a day at the beach.

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