Before & After: See the Light, Bright Transformation of This Texas Beach House
Buy a beach house with large windows and five-star views and you instantly have a great canvas. Houston designer Marie Flanigan knew just what to do with this one, a Galveston beach retreat with ocean and bay views on all sides: Play up its high ceilings and stellar views, but reimagine its traditional interiors with clean lines, rich textures, and family-friendly materials. “[The owners] really wanted something elegant and sophisticated but at the same time functional,” says Flanigan. “So we embraced the beauty of simplicity, not only as a design feature but also in a practical sense.” Here’s how Flanigan, along with lead designer Kelsey Grant, brought this beach house up to modern day:
Let There Be Light
Though relatively modest on square footage, the wide-open great room, large windows, and sky-high ceilings made the space feel enormous. Flanigan took it up a notch by bathing the entire space in bright white. Previously yellow walls and dark wood beams were given a fresh coat of paint, and an accent wall beyond the fireplace was clad in white-painted shiplap (for added texture). Floors also got a facelift: “There was an orange undertone on the floors before, so we gave it a whitewash to help tone it down to a more organic feeling,” says Flanigan.
An existing fireplace—chunky stone that was flanked by shelves and stopped partway up the wall—didn’t jibe with the clean, understated vibes Flanigan was going for. So she cleaned the whole thing up, raising the fireplace to the ceiling and cladding it in shiplap to blend in with the walls. A sleek concrete surround and reclaimed wood mantel feel rustic and natural paired with the living room’s woven pieces. “This project was all about texture,” says Flanigan. “We used a lot of raw, deconstructed finishes throughout, and then brought in glass for a touch of glamour and iron to help with that sleek, contemporary feel.”
Made to Entertain
Bar height counters originally wrapped around part of the kitchen, making the space feel separate from the rest of the living areas. To create a sense of cohesion, Flanigan lowered the counters on the far sides of the columns and maintained the height in between as a bar. (Sleek McGuire stools pull up to the bar.) Heavy tiled countertops were also replaced with a sintered material called Neolith, which aesthetically matches the modern look of concrete. “This is one of those things we chose for livability,” says Flanigan. “Neolith can’t be chipped, stained, or hurt in any way, so it’s very functional.”
Yellow walls and dark wood floors and furniture in the master bedroom weren’t maximizing the brightness in a space that gets a lot of natural light. Flanigan remedied the situation by washing the space in white, laying a sand-colored rug underfoot, and choosing furniture that feels sleeker and slimmer in the space (including an antique painted metal frame bed and woven bench). Again, shiplap walls bring texture and “the charm of a historic home,” says Flanigan.
Between the master bedroom and the balcony, a tiny sitting room with a couch and overhead shelving went previously unused. Built-ins, smart furniture, and an efficient use of space transformed it into a multi-use destination—a storage space, guest quarters, and a sunroom for reading. A daybed serves as both a sofa and a twin bed for sleeping grandkids, with another pullout twin bed tucked underneath. Shelving and cabinetry flank the daybed, while additional storage space is hidden inside the woven ottomans. “We really wanted to maximize function in this room, while also giving them a really sweet space to accent the master bedroom,” says Flanigan.
In the master bath, the existing soaking tub sat diagonally in the space with a large tiled surround that went mostly unused. To free up floor space, Flanigan fit the tub within a nook between the window and the wall. Shiplap walls and porcelain tiled floors designed to look like wood bring a cozy feel. The vanity and tub surround, while resembling Calcutta marble, are crafted of durable Neolith.
Throughout the home, the palette was “very much inspired by the beach,” says Flanigan. The sandy neutrals, rich earth tones, and muted blues found in the upstairs landing are a prime example. “It was all about bringing the outdoors in and really celebrating simplicity,” says Flanigan. “We wanted to recreate the sense of calm that being by the ocean allows.”