Whilst British beach huts are quirky, colourful and (mostly) affordable, our friends in the States do their seaside real estate on a whole other level. Why have a beach hut when you can have a beach house? New England beach houses are typified by their vast verandas and decks, ceilings dotted with lazily spinning fans and neutral interior decor.
Whilst some of the ideas are hard to replicate in a British home (if only we had the square footage to start with!) there are many design principles which you can borrow for your own home.
Texture and pattern not colour
To add interest to your beach house interior focus on texture and small patterns and keep the palette to neutrals and blues. Texture needn’t be as obvious as knit or rattan, even choosing linen for your sofa coverings over cotton can add a suggestion of the look. You can add texture to floors with rugs, to walls by adding paneling (stay away from the woodchip wallpaper, nobody is ready for that to be revived yet) and to other spaces within the room by mixing fabrics.
Big plump cushions and throws
Beach houses are all about vacations and relaxation and the decor mirrors this with luxuriously plump sofas littered with cushions and draped with throws, so that when you stagger in from an exhausting day on the beach, you can sink into a soft piece of furniture and read a good book.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a beach house with fitted carpets, hard floors are definitely the way forward for a life by the sea! But think outside the box, grey laminate flooring is an unusual choice, but it suits the cool shades of a neutral interior better than some of the more traditional colours and it is practical for salty and sandy feet (both canine and human) to traipse across.
Subtle nautical accessorising
You don’t have to hang an anchor on the wall and put mini lighthouses on every shelf to add some nautical sophistication. There are many subtle and versatile things you can add to your home that whisper, rather than shout “seaside”. Materials like rope, glass and faded wood are naturally associated with the sea and don’t look so obviously themed.
Make your decor timeless
Beach houses seem to belong to a time of their own, technology is hidden away in storage units and much of the furniture is in traditional shapes and designs. This style adds to the illusion of a place where time stands still and the generations meet. It’s a great look if you can pull it off, as it literally never goes out of fashion.
If you must cover the windows add shutters not blinds
Many beach houses have no window dressings at all because they are in splendid isolation with only a stunning sea view for company, but in reality many of us need to protect our privacy, occasionally at least! Plantation shutters have been a big interior design trend for the last few years and they show no sign of going away. Their white surfaces also help bounce light around the room even when you are partially shutting the outside away.
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First image courtesy of Casabella Interiors. 389 Route 6A, East Sandwich, MA 02537