This Tiny Rehoboth Beach Cottage Is Home to a Family of Nine
When Trish and Mike Huffman bought a small fixer-upper about five blocks from the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk in Delaware, they harbored no fantasies of cramming in the whole family. They couldn't—not with seven grown children between them, plus spouses and grandkids. But they could turn the 1940s cedar-shingled cottage (all 1,000 square feet of it) into a summer share house for the gang to rotate through on the weekends.
Task one was fixing the old place up. Its aqua shutters appeared more 1960s tired than bright and beachy, and inside, it begged for some TLC: The baths offered little storage or counter space, the kitchen layout swallowed usable prep areas, and the rooms had no fun factor, particularly for a beach cottage to be shared by young, energetic families.
Among the Huffmans' vibrant clan is Trish's daughter, interior designer Elizabeth Hnat, who had plenty of ideas for how to enliven the house. Her top priority was making the most of the existing space. "We wanted the rooms to be light and bright and timeless," says Hnat, "and because it was going to get lots of multigenerational use, it also had to be functional, easy to maintain, and not fussy." Here's more on how she transformed the dated two-bedroom into a versatile—and vibrant!—summer getaway for the family to share.
Warm Up Your Welcome
Hnat transformed what once was a dark sitting room into a cheerful eat-in nook. "It's the first room you see when you walk inside, so I wanted to continue the happy feeling that sunshine brings," she says of the room's yellow palette. Her stepfather, Mike, built the 10- foot-long banquette, which keeps the number of seats flexible and, Hnat adds, "can sleep a couple of kids in a pinch." The pine dining table expands to seat eight, and all the blue-and-white fabric is a washable cotton-linen blend.
Scale Down Window Space (Yes, Really!)
Hnat kept the kitchen's original L-shaped layout, but replaced a large window with a smaller one. "It had no view, and what we really needed was more space for the refrigerator and storage," she explains. Along with new stone countertops, a ceramic brick backsplash, and satin brass hardware and fixtures, Hnat also added a clever custom island: It doubles as a pantry that's accessible through doors on both sides.
Add the Fun Factor
Visible from the entry, the hallway wallpaper is an unexpected surprise. "The pattern is playful, and the navy blue feels very coastal," says Hnat, who used beadboard wainscot to protect the walls in the high-traffic area. She also wallpapered the panels on the linen closet (foreground), which serves as a handy storage cubby for sunscreen and clean beach towels.