Beach House Interior Design

One of my goals is to decorate a beach house during off-season.  Maybe this winter?  This could be me relaxing at the end of a busy day:


I did a Design Inspiration Plan (an e-design) for a beach home in Florida last year, and I worked on one this week for the living room of a beach house in Hampton Bay. This is the room in its current state:

window wall


It has slate floors and a fireplace, but has some issues that makes it difficult to plan furniture arrangement without impeding the traffic flow from one staircase to another. And notice the change in flooring and little step-up towards the back of the room?

bathroom wall


Here’s where the seating arrangement should be centered – the main architectural feature of the room, the fireplace.  And of course, I want to make sure guests are able to take in the views from the windows (to the left of this shot) and the patio (opposite the fireplace).

fireplace wall


So, I put together a Design Inspiration Plan that solves all the unique problems of this space and capitalizes on its strengths.  Today I delivered her plan, which includes:

1) a furniture floorplan,

2) an Inspiration Board,

3) an 8-page detailed report of my specific recommendations, and

4) a Pinboard with the sources of the furnishings I chose and a few possible alternatives.


Although I’m not going to show you all of that, I thought you might like to see the Inspiration Board I created for this client.

OB-Michelle Ps Beach House


We wanted to create a casual yet sophisticated space where this client can hang out and watch the sunset with her friends, without a really obvious “beach” theme.  I can’t wait to see how this online design turns out in real life.  If you have any friends or family with a beach home (preferably down south) that needs decorating or updating, make sure you let them know I’m looking to do some winter design work on the beach!



  1. Phil

    Hey. Great post

  2. Paula Van Hoogen

    Just wondering if the homeowner can change the location of the bathroom door—to the right?
    Somebody…..didn’t look at the floor plan very carefully BEFORE the plumbing was established!
    A toilet straight inside the door will never look right. Why doesn’t ANY builder EVER consult a designer before he lifts his hammer?
    Sorry, it’s just all too common.
    Looking forward to your solution. And, I do hope you get to do a beach house this winter!
    (Need an assistant?)…;).P.

    • Kristie Barnett

      We didn’t discuss altering the architecture at all, Paula – just working with the structure we had. I’m not sure if it’s a full bath or a half – if it’s a full bath, we wouldn’t want the door opening to the tub/shower either. The way I’ve drawn out the furniture floorplan includes placing a 76-80 inch apartment-sized sofa (NOT loveseat) at a 90 degree angle to the fireplace, facing the front windows and with it’s back to the bathroom door and butted up to the step-up that runs across that portion of the room. A large vertically-oriented piece of art will be placed on the wall to the right of the bathroom door, and the walkway through the space will be around the sofa on that side of the room (towards the sliding glass doors) to go up stairs. You are so right – it is all too common that builders do things that designers would never do, but I guess that’s why they are builders and not designers! I’ll let you know if I need an assistant on my beach house project this winter! 😉

  3. Paula Van Hoogen

    That sounds like a perfect foil for that bathroom Kristie—establishing a foreground to divert the eye!
    I just had to convince a young homeowner, who was agonizing over our paint choices that the walls will indeed become the background, while the furniture & accessories will be the foreground. (Her agony was over a particular shade of white, of all things! & a Palladian Blue bedroom, which really is pretty, but not what she’s used to, especially before the furniture went in).
    Also, a lady in Florida for whom I’ll be designing a new kitchen jumped the gun & called 3 cabinet makers for estimates…I had to explain that they are the box-makers, not the designers. They were giving her “prices” for the exact same set up as she has! (unfortunately, I’ll be going there in July…)
    It’s a space that needs total re-thinking.

    • Kristie Barnett

      I love how you explained that – boxmakers, not designers. You are so right!

  4. Mary CC

    Hi Kristie,
    Since this has been a beach week for you I am going to bring up a beach related paint problem I am having. We are renovating a 1911 beach cottage in CA. We had the house painted last year and are doing a touch up again now. The main color of the wooden exterior is a warm medium to dark brown and the trim is white white. Both are semigloss. It really looks good but The issue I am having is that because the house is 4 houses away from the sand we get sand blown from the beach daily that accumulates on the window sills and trim. We have to wash it down or brush it off frequently. The paint colors look fabulous, but the sand is driving us crazy. I am sadly thinking of changing the front door color from white to a color that hides the grey brown grit of the sand. The sand is that much of a problem. Black would be beautiful but the sand would build up on it and show it as dusty/dirty too. I am sure you get my drift. (Pun intended) A dark or light grey door sounds boring as would a sand colored door. I have considered a medium blue but not sure. I actually have a similar problem at our lake house in the mountains with pollen in the spring and the dusty dirt in a mountain area and have to clean frequently. Any ideas or suggestions on how to choose a compatible color ?

    Mary CC from CA

    • Kristie Barnett

      Oh Mary, the weather always messing with our pretty plans! Our home had a screened-in porch for the first 8 years we lived here. I stained the concrete floor dark pink (!) and filled it with pretty painted furniture and pillows and such. I COULD NEVER KEEP IT CLEAN for the pollen. We finally decided to enclose it and put in windows that could be raised for a breeze. Now we live in that room and it’s CLEAN! All this to say, there is only so much you can do. If the colors you chose look great, I wouldn’t change them just to match the sand. A house like yours is going to require more upkeep than most of us who don’t live on the coast. I do think that a mid-tone color is probably the best bet for an exterior like yours – not too light, not too dark. So a medium blue wouldn’t be a bad choice, but unfortunately it’s still going to get dirty!!!

  5. Adrienne

    Hi Kristie!

    Here’s a beach house updating project for you!

    This is our new beach house that we purchased in May.

    We’re actually in the process of ‘un’ decorating it. The house has awesome beach views, but too much red, green and dark rattan and wicker inside. And way too many knick-knacks, many of which literally said ‘beach’.

    Also, my 9 year old Decorologist-in-training says the wall are ‘too white’. 🙂


  6. Williemae

    Wonderful website, previously been searching forever and a day for ideas on the very best rattan furniture for our home and in our patio.
    The website sincerely helpedgreat blog some great info here


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