Time to wave those tacky beach house decorations goodbye with these chic second-home design techniques.
We all know that beach house decor can sometimes become cliched—too many seashells, model ships on each side table and everything in blue. Luckily, Philadelphia-based interior design firm Stokes Architecture + Design (stokesarch.com) has a few ideas on how to add a little nuance to your beach house decor, as seen in its recent design of twin cottages in Cape May. Here, Director of Design Lance Saunders gives readers a peek inside the project, highlighting his favorite details, and how to integrate them into your summer home.
Standing directly in front of the bay, Saunders knew that designing the cottages would be all about striking that perfect synergy between the internal and external spaces. The main level boasts an open floor plan, drawing eyes to a clear view of the water from the entrance to the living room. Instead of just relying on a blue marine aesthetic, Saunders chose wood tones. “We went mostly with a rich, honey-toned wood, reminiscent of teak, which is a weather-resistant tropical wood that is often used in boats,” Saunders says. The decision to have exposed beams also helped to give the space a sense of depth and texture. He then decided to honor the style and finishes of Scandinavian design that offered minimalistic comfort, featuring Wegner chairs, materials with strong geometric lines and Noguchi lights for a lovely glow after the daylight has faded. At the end of the living room, gorgeous white French doors open onto a covered deck, which adds that breezy inside-outside dynamic to the space. Upstairs, the primary bedroom features an oversized custom trapezoidal window that offers unparalleled views of the bay, while the third bedroom includes a private balcony that overlooks the quaint residential street out front. By the end, the space was imbued with a relaxed mood and understated appearance.
FIND A CENTRAL THEME FOR YOUR ART COLLECTION
“If you have the shore-house-standard watercolor of a lifeguard boat in your living room, it can feel trite. But if you have a collection of boat paintings, now that lifeguard boat feels intentional and thoughtful—so think about themes.”
“Don Freedman created many designs for wall-hanging fiber art in the ’70s. His pieces can be found in plenty of vintage stores, as well as ebay, Etsy and other vintage online retailers at very affordable prices. These collectable pieces add some bohemian elements to your space, and the fiber rope and burlap materials he often used are a good way to reference nautical elements without putting a model tall ship in your house.”
EMBRACE CLICHE WITHOUT OVERDOING IT
“I think the key to decorating a shore house is to embrace certain cliched elements without overdoing ‘nautical’ because people crave familiarity. Driftwood is one of those cliches that can actually be very impactful on its own.”
SPICE UP THE COLOR PALETTE
“Most shore houses tend to use a ‘white on white’ color palette. [Honey-toned] wood can be added to any color palette to add warmth and depth to a space.”
Photography by: JASON VARNEY