Take a look at some of our most coastal-chic living room transformations.
To make this Nantucket cottage’s small footprint feel larger and the ceilings seem higher, designer Stephen Theroux brightened the walls, ceiling beams, and trusses with linen-white paint.
Photo: Annie Schlechter; Stylist: Jennifer Cain Defoe
"Painting the interior, including the architectural elements, made a huge impact," he says. "It was like a night-and-day difference. It now feels clean, airy, and beachy."
Homeowner Sherry Klein’s mission was simple—to transform a sad 1950s Malibu beach shack into the light and bright family-friendly jewel box that she and partner Catherine Williamson had always wanted. Klein's first order of business was to replace the foggy, filmed-over windows with new versions that allowed water views to truly shine for the first time in years.
New driftwood-finish oak flooring and a few gallons of white paint on the walls and hearth give the living room a modern face-lift. The furniture's thick denim slipcovers ensure that the space is ready for anything—a must with kids and dogs in the house.
Part Hamptons, part The Brady Bunch rerun, this Santa Barbara house had great views but was clad in the most depressing gray—from linoleum-accented 1970s-style interiors to tinted windows that shadowed everything inside.
Easy-to-clean white slipcovers dress every surface in the open space, from the dining chairs to the overstuffed sofa and coffee table/ottoman. Vaulted ceilings and minimal lighting overhead add to the airy feel.
The living room was in disrepair, so homeowner Trish Becker and her team put in new cedar walls and reclaimed heart pine floors.
Photo: Annie Schlechter; Stylist: Liz Strong
Inside, cypress walls and reclaimed heart pine floors anchor the rooms, and new doors were constructed in the exact shape and design of the sole door that remained when Becker and Chinitz bought the house.
Photographer: Lisa Romerein
Fresh white paint, lush seating cushions, and a downsized fireplace allow the beach view to be the focal point of the room.
Photographer: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Painting the dark beams white dramatically changes the room and creates a more open feel. Fun, exotic prints add interest and color.
Photographer: Grey Crawford
With lots of elbow grease, the homeowners turned a lowly shack into a gorgeous, earth-toned living room. The raised ceiling and striped rug add chic personality.
A lack of furniture makes this drab living room hard to utilize. Lots of empty space does not work well for relaxing or entertaining.
Photographer: Tria Giovan
A pale wall color plus fun and comfortable bamboo furniture gives this room character and an inviting atmosphere.
Photographer: Deborah Whitlaw Llwellyn
Neutral colors mixed with natural touches give the room a calming feel. A collection of smaller pictures forms a larger piece of art that adds significant interest to the space.
When two sailing enthusiasts had to temporarily table their dream of building a boat in order to raise their young crew of four, they set about looking for a new adventure. And that's exactly what they found in an aged, lackluster house on Galveston Bay in Texas. While the home's dated tile, dingy walls, and cobbled-together furnishings (which came with the house) were a far cry from the picturesque home the family envisioned, they were up for the challenge of making it their own.
Designers Elizabeth Munger Stiver and Amy Munger transformed the living room by bringing in warm pine for the floors, statement-making shiplap walls, and well-curated furniture that is both pretty and practical. "We skipped anything too formal," Stiver says.
Interesting shelves, a vaulted ceiling, and wood floors provided great opportunity for a gorgeous living room.
Photographer: Mike David Wakely
The L-shaped couch and glass coffee table serve as anchors to the eccentric collection of movies, books, and accessories on the shelves. A unique color palette of dark grays and bright pops of orange add character.
Photographer: Timothy Street-Porter
By completely covering the wood paneling with bright white paint, this living room feels open and comfortable. Simple, plush furniture finishes the look and enhances natural light.
Photographer: Dominique Vorillon
The driftwood coffee table is a bold focal point that references the natural environment outside. Neutral colors with accents of cool blues and green create a calming coastal atmosphere.
Photographer: Troy Campbell
A fresh, clean palette mimics the outdoor surroundings of this modern beach house. Sleek white furniture adds a touch of futuristic style while a woven rug keeps it coastal.
A cabinetry partition blocked natural light from entering the kitchen, so the design team extended the cook space to be closer to the view. The extension also made the kitchen and living room a more connected, fluid space.
Photo: Lisa Romerein; Stylist: Liz Strong
The living room side of the island is outfitted with built-in bookcases and serves as an anchor wall for the sofa. “My primary concern here was function,” says Dunham, who created a seating area that faces the fireplace “to make the living room feel less like a place to pass through and more like a destination.” To help maintain uninterrupted beach and ocean views, he chose low-profile pieces like a pair of 1960s-inspired armchairs (upholstered in a muted leaf-pattern linen), along with custom linen sofas and a woven wicker ottoman with a leather cushion.
Call it women's intuition, but when Jenny Cook walked over the threshold of an aging Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida home, she saw something her husband, Kevin, didn't. "It had this terrible wallpaper, and he said, 'No way!'" she says with a laugh. "I instantly loved it, though. I knew it was going to be a project, but it had a lot of potential. I could really see our family there."
Creative ceilings are Howard's go-to device for bringing an element of surprise and excitement to interiors. In the living room, he raised the ceiling and had it covered in pickled wood for an Old Florida feel. "I wanted the ceiling to be the first thing people saw when they came into the home," he says. "It had to make a big impact."
With its terra-cotta roof, board-and-batten siding, and livable floor plan, this little cottage near Savannah (and once owned by Henry Ford) oozed potential. All it needed was loads of TLC. Rotten windows and peeling paint proved the living room was no exception.
The stripped original poplar tongue-and-groove boards, heart pine flooring sealed with a clear polyurethane, and beeswax-polished pine mantel lend a warm, welcoming glow. The off-white trim is a crisp touch.
This Morehead City, North Carolina, living room’s palette was too frenetic and the furniture too fussy for homeowners who prefer soft blues, whites, and natural tones.
Layering two blue paints created a soft wash for the room’s trim and molding, resulting in a beautifully aged look. Clearing out the clutter made room for thoughtful accessories and completed the laid-back vibe.
When homeowners Tiffany and Fred McWhorter bought their Bald Head Island cottage, they knew that it needed major renovations. The couple tackled the project together, starting with the home's dark Ponderosa pine-clad shell. "It looked like an old hunting lodge inside," says Fred. Adds Tiffany, "I don't think anything had been updated since the '80s, but the structure wasn't necessarily in bad shape."
Rather than stripping the walls and ceilings completely, the homeowners opted to cover them with glossy white paint, ridding the home of its cave-like feel and instantly brightening the rooms. For a more beach-friendly interior, wall-to-wall carpeting was replaced with oak floors washed in a weathered gray.