Bold Wrightsville Beach House Update
A family calls on designer Liz Carroll to give their North Carolina beach house a cheery new look.
Over the course of a decade, this getaway on the marsh in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, had seen it all: kids growing up, graduating, moving away, getting married, having kids of their own. But while things changed and evolved for the family who lived there, the house stayed the same.
"They bought it completely furnished 10 years ago, and they never touched a thing," says interior designer Liz Carroll, whom the homeowners brought on board to oversee a remodel after a simple consultation led to something else entirely. "I went over to help them pick a color for the new hardwood floors they wanted to install," she says. "But by the end of the walk-through, we had decided to start over from scratch."
So out went aged teal carpeting and dark green walls; in their place, Carroll installed warm hardwoods and paired crisp whites with bright hues for a fresh, modern look. Here's how color can bring a past-its-prime home back to prominence.
The entry hall offers a taste of what the rest of the home has in store for visiting friends and family: The striped Dash & Albert rug, for example, introduces a palette that gets repeated in the living room. "It was a fun space to create," says Carroll. "It's warm, welcoming, and nautical, without feeling too thematic."
Carroll didn't have to look far to find the color inspiration that would define the living room; she just had to glance out the windows. "When the marsh is in season, you get a bright hit of green where the grass meets the water," she says, "and when the sun sets, the sky turns pretty shades of lavender." To keep things from getting too overwhelming, though, she made sure to ground the space with soothing neutrals.
While the kitchen's former white porcelain backsplash was still in good shape, it looked dull and lackluster when paired with white cabinets, so Carroll replaced it with light blue glass subway tile for some much-needed contrast and a bit of sparkle. "Everything looks a lot cleaner and fresher," she says, "and we didn't have to spend much!"
Because the dining room is open to the main living area, Carroll continued the green-and-lavender palette, but in softer, more subdued colorways to keep the focus on food, friends, and family. "I didn't want to do too much here," she says, "but I love the chandelier. It's a custom piece that echoes the shape of a captain's wheel."
The unexpected color combinations in the guest room's charming Katie Ridder wallpaper inspired Carroll to think outside the box. She borrowed the poppy red color from the tiny flag atop the illustrated ships and used it for the Greek key motif on the pillows and custom twin headboards, and again for the wide trim on the curtains.
It's all about whimsy in the downstairs bedroom (opposite), which was designed with the homeowners' grandchildren in mind. Carroll painted the walls light and bright before throwing in pops of citrus and a string of nautical flags from West Marine. "Hanging them high makes the low ceilings seem taller," she says.
When Carroll laid eyes on a bolt of look-at-me, indoor/outdoor Trina Turk fabric, she didn't think twice about using it to upholster the guest room's custom headboard; she knew the fun, bold print was exactly what the homeowners had in mind. "The fabric became the jumping-off point," she says. "It informed everything else in the room."