family home watesound beach 30a blue-gray exterior white verandah dhny

it’s official… summer is calling and your coastal home beckons. you’ve packed up your essentials, removed perishables from the fridge, and jaunted off to the coast with a spring in your step. as the first breeze of salty sea air tickles your senses, fond memories and soul-soothing relaxation washed over you in equal measure. ahhhh…. 

is there truly any season better than summer? not in my book.

as much as i love the coast from a personal perspective (who doesn’t?), i love it just as much from a design perspective. we have clients as close as bridgehampton and as far as 30a. while much of our process stays the same, beach living presents its own unique nuances, challenges, and lifestyle opportunities.

today, i’m sharing the 5 key ways that coastal design differs from city design. some of these may be obvious and some may surprise you, but all play a role in how you enjoy your beach home. join me for a walk along the shore with some of our favorite projects and what makes them special…

watersound beach 30a outdoor living area design fireplace beams sofa chairs coastal contemporary dhny

from our project in watersound beach. photographer: jean allsopp

1. coastal design is all about ease

although we always design for ease in our clients’ city apartments, beach homes take relaxed living to the nth degree. everything is about ease. materials that require low-maintenance cleaning. the comfort level in furnishings and decor. softer surfaces. fewer tchotkes creating visual noise. and above all, an emphasis on luxurious simplicity.

of course, how we create this ultra relaxed ambiance involves a few more key strategies…

coastal luxury marble table water view watersound beach 30a interior design dhny

when we design beach homes, we focus on simplicity, low maintenance, and elevated yet relaxed living. from our project in watersound beach. photographer: jean allsopp

2. furnishings favor relaxation and durability

call me crazy, but yes, you can go right ahead and throw your feet up on your white sofa — wait, what?! that’s right. it’s covered in high-performance, indoor-outdoor fabric that looks like linen and wears like iron! i know… where has this fabric been all our lives?

again, durability is a characteristic we always take into account when designing, but it’s a simple fact that you use your beach home differently than you do your city flat. coastal living comes with a higher risk of wear and tear.

we believe your home should stand up to the season in spades — so you can enjoy it freely and without the ever-nagging need to be cautious. the secret: relaxed over precious.

we can achieve the same look and feel of easy luxury without compromising on longevity, from performance fabrics to the right flooring and tile, even to countertops. some materials are made (or nature-made) stronger than others.

by sourcing furnishings and materials that are equally applauded for their beauty as much as their durability, you’ll feel relaxed, care-free, and supported in your home. yes, even while boldly sipping sangria on your white sofa. 😉

bridgehampton new build living room design white furniture performance fabric coastal luxury

white furnishings need no longer strike you with fear! from the bridgehampton new build.

3. a lighter, brighter color palette

the color palettes we choose for a design largely depend on our clients’ sensibilities. however, there is a prevalent theme of lighter, brighter palettes in homes on the coast. colorways lean toward layered shades of white and cream, warm and cool greys, and a wide spectrum of blues.

if you think about it, it’s not surprising. yes, these hues are inspired by the coastal landscape and help the home blend tastefully into its surroundings. but these are the colors most associated with feelings of freshness, ease, and relaxation. (are you seeing why i put ease in the #1 spot?)

of course, you are not limited to these palettes when designing your home. we’ll work together to discuss your preferences and create a palette that speaks to your home, your style, and your lifestyle.

bridgehampton new build marble bathroom modern black shower frame free standing tub dhny design

sometimes, the best designs let the materials do all the talking. the stunning marble in this bridgehampton beauty creates a vastness that accentuates the view, inspires mental freedom and makes hours of pampering effortless. from the bridgehampton new build.

4. a preference for natural textures

texture is an essential part of any design. in city apartments, we usually see more leather, velvet, stone, and polished hardwoods. in coastal homes, we lean toward more natural-feeling textures, like seagrass rugs, slightly distressed hardwood floors, exposed beams with character, and fabrics like linen.

if you’re thinking — but i don’t want my coastal home to look like a cliché — stop right there. i couldn’t agree with you more; clichés are design blasphemy! *shudder*

that’s why coastal design simply leans toward these natural-feeling textures. it’s all about the balance. even a subtle shift in one direction or the other can change the feeling of a home from city chic to coastal sophistication.

here’s what i mean…

dining room design bridgehampton diamond pendant woven chairs beams contemporary coastal

dining room in the bridgehampton family home project. photographer: jean allsopp

this bridgehampton dining room is the perfect blend of relaxed yet undeniably sexy. a mix of textured elements and contemporary furnishings create a space destined for family meals, a an intimate brunch, or a high-stakes game of gentlemen’s poker. 😉

5. designed and managed from afar

the final difference between city and coastal interior design is how we manage our projects. overall, the experience is nearly identical from our coastal clients’ perspective. you receive the same care and attention (and mental and physical freedom) through our well-developed design and project management process.

if you’re not in the city, which is often the case even for our city clients, we are more than fluent in managing your project virtually from afar. this includes all of our consultations, design presentations, and meetings… and we were doing so long before covid came to town. (many of our clients travel for business, have second or third homes, and prefer not to live on a construction site… can you blame them??)

however, since our studio is located in nyc, we are not physically on site for coastal homes as much as we might be for projects in the city. this means working with contractors and trades from afar.

while different, it’s more than doable. we’ve designed several homes in this manner with zero blips on the radar. we also make a trip or two at the most crucial junctures in the project… like revealing the final result to you!

bridgehampton coastal contemporary master bedroom design fireplace sitting area statement lighting dhny

master bedroom in the bridgehampton family home project. photographer: jean allsopp

when should you start designing or renovating your beach home?

you probably intend to enjoy your beach home for the next several months, but if you want any renovations completed by next summer, now is the time to reach out to us.

as i mentioned in this post about project timelines, renovating and furnishing a home can take a year or more. (slightly less for single spaces like kitchens or bathrooms.) plus, the design and planning phase is done over those first few months. the perfect time for the planning phase is when you are lounging around at home!

then, we can start and manage the renovation side once you return to the city in fall or winter. perfectly convenient for you.

if you haven’t worked with us before, you probably want to meet the minds behind the magic, right? of course, you do. you can reach out to us here, and we’ll arrange a time to chat, get to know each other, and see if we’re right for you. see you then!

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