2011 Ultimate Beach House Room Tour
Check out our East Beach Idea House in Norfolk, Virginia. It's packed with fantastic decorating ideas—all yours to steal!
You’re not the only one who dreams big—we have grand plans, too. This year, we went to Norfolk, Virginia, and invited some of our favorite design stars to build a seaside retreat from the ground up. The result is a shingle-style home chock-full of pretty decorating ideas and smart design finds. Keep clicking for a room-by-room tour!
Inside-Out Palette: Aqua walls and navy shutters not only reference the house’s waterside surroundings but also offer a preview of the cool shades inside.
Cement Siding: Planks and shingles made of reinforced concrete have the charm of traditional wood siding but will stand up to the coastal environment longer with less maintenance.
HOT TIN ROOF: With the same appeal of historic metal roofs, this steel version deflects as much as 90 percent of the sun’s heat, thereby keeping the house cooler.
NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH: Double-decker porches framed by bright white columns create a welcoming facade and encourage interaction with neighbors in Norfolk’s East Beach community, where houses are clustered along pedestrian-friendly streets.
Nautical Palette: Crisp blues, whites, and yellows are a nod to Norfolk, with its active boating community and history as a Navy town.
Statement Piece: With its dark background and large scale, this simple, powerful photo of an albatross is the perfect dramatic art for the otherwise airy space.
Top Brass Lamp Shades: This seaworthy metal is more practical (read: easier to keep clean!) in a beach house than fabric shades. Bonus: A pair of floor lamps frees up space on the end tables.
All Washed Up: The ceiling’s gray-white wash (paint thinned with water) resembles driftwood that’s floated ashore.
Attention to Detail: Extra touches, such as the square blocks added to window casings and trim layered in a wainscot pattern, create the look of custom paneling without the high price tag.
Booth-like Benches: The banquettes, which comfortably fit two people, are a casual and streamlined way to seat a crowd without the busy look of so many chairs.
Mirror Image: Fanned-out paddles are a sculptural, cheeky take on the classic round mirror.
Custom Job: Can’t find a striped fabric that floats your boat? Try piecing together solids in the width of your choice for a graphic color-block effect, like that of the banquette slipcovers.
Sheer Bliss: Pleated linen draperies filter bright seaside light and lend an ethereal quality to the space.
Sky Blue Hue: The dreamy wall shade is a soft backdrop for the starker contrast between the navy and white upholstery. Tip: Vary blues for a more sophisticated, less matchy-matchy look.
Double-decker Cabinetry: White paint and glass doors on the upper cabinets brighten the room, while the polyurethane finish below stands up to wear and tear without chipping.
Marine Scheme: The deep blue recycled ceramic-tile back-splash and durable enameled cast iron cookware echo the shades in the adjacent living and dining spaces as well as the bay.
Seamless Stainless: Appliances such as this dishwasher that can be installed flush with cabinetry lend a streamlined look.
Planks with Patina: Watered-down gray paint gives the wide-plank oak floors a worn, weathered finish that’s as beautiful as it is durable.
Eye-catching Lighting: Bigger is better when it comes to above-island pendants. This stainless steel fixture is more than 3 feet long!
Sunny side Up: Make the most of a single, cheerful color by mixing motifs, such as the chairs’ bold ikat print, the cushions’ tailored piping, and the rug’s classic stripes.
Everyday Art: Find beauty in the ordinary by curating a collection of similar items, like these brightly colored flip-flops framed in Lucite boxes.
Double-duty Built-Ins: Space-saving bench seating is even more efficient when there’s room for storage below.
Outside In: The banquette cushions’ weatherproof fabric can be wiped down with a sponge, making white a safe choice for the dining area.
Charted Territory: Antique, hand-colored nautical maps of the Mid-Atlantic coast and a pair of fish-eye mirrors frame the bed and bedside lamps (above right) with a graphic, symmetrical arrangement.
Video: Tour the Master Bedroom
Lighten Up: A pair of balustrade-shaped bedside lamps, typically made of wood, take an airy turn in translucent glass.
Sea Foam Chic: A variety of textures (grasscloth wallpaper, lacquered side tables, sheer shades) and patterns enliven this single-color scheme, which doesn’t compete with the room’s panoramic view.
Louvers Lane: The shutter-inspired, slatted detail on the bed and the tub surround lends a touch of island style.
Checkmate: Made from square tiles in different sizes and colors, the bath’s mosaic floor is a fresh update on a classic checkerboard pattern.
Multitasking Ottoman: Thanks to its generous proportions, this light-weight wicker piece functions as a coffee table, a spot to prop up feet, or an extra place to perch and take in the ocean view.
Durable Surface: Made of a synthetic material that looks like wood, this porch floor is resistant to mildew, moisture, splitting, scratches, and stains.
Window Dressing: The shutters’ rich navy color and off-beat hardware make them worthy of a double take. They’re functional, too—they cover the windows’ entire width to offer storm protection.
The Fine Print: Using small-scale prints on the upholstered bed and the curtains shows off their silhouettes.
Dimensional Decor: Antique creamware plates and a set of whitewashed antlers are a 3-D alternative to typical artwork above the bed.
Easygoing Green: A mossy shade is pretty but strong, making it a great choice for a guest bedroom.
Tailored Treatment: Arabesque-shaped valances, which highlight the room’s high ceilings, take a preppy turn when framed with trim in a contrasting fabric.
Geometric Sequence: Honeycomb concrete tile on the bath floor is a graphic, mod anchor in the light, airy space.
Reed Between the Lines: The vanity’s fluted detail resembles the rattan reeds used to make furniture commonly found in coastal locales.
Snuggly Surfaces: Sleepover guests will feel welcome in richly upholstered twin beds.
Graphic Design: Buttons and piping (upholstered in a contrasting shade) give the headboard a preppy, graphic punch.
Cozy Color: Saturated camel and hot pink lend happy sophisitication to a kids’ retreat.
Texture Message: The nubby burlap wall-covering adds casual comfort and visual interest.
Groove Thing: V-groove planking placed in a chevron pattern and highlighted in soft gray paint adds intricate detail to the simple flat-panel bath door and cabinetry.
Concrete Courtyard: These man-made pavers are engineered to withstand the harsh coastal elements while maintaining their warm color and natural-looking texture.
All-Weather Wonder: Sturdy teak seating (previous slide) and aluminum-framed wicker, which can endure through rain and chill, let this outdoor space be used like an indoor one all year long.
Made in the Shade: A retractable awning and manual roller shades made of weatherproof fabric offer protection from bright sunlight and strong sea breezes.
Eco-Chic Rug: With wide stripes, super-soft ribbing, and 50 percent recycled content, this indoor/outdoor rug is good-looking and good for the environment.
Hedge Fun: A row of tall, slender elm trees creates a privacy screen (with enough height to shield the second floor, too!); silvery green maiden grass beneath softens the fence with beachy texture.
Mini Kitch: Plain-Jane cabinetry gets a luxurious look with navy blue paint in this super-functional galley kitchen.
Top Shelves: Their openness offers easy access to everyday items such as dishes and stemware.
Tile Style: The irregular texture of the glazed white bricks on the backsplash is a rustic twist on porcelain subway tile.
Day Into Night: The daybed, which is nearly the size of a double mattress, is the perfect piece for this efficiency apartment tucked over the house’s garage.
Lighting the Way: A pair of pendants are like spotlights over the counter workspaces in the kitchen, while a pair of swing-arm sconces provides just enough light for reading.