By ellenmcgauley
August 17, 2015

By Homes Editor Ellen McGauley

One of my all-time favorite beach houses is in the September issue, which just landed on newsstands (it's HOT, my friends!). It’s the story of an old Bahamian cottage, left in disrepair for decades (can you believe the "before" pic? See the rest of the story here).



Then along came a neighbor who knew that with a little (okay, a lot) of ingenuity and TLC, she could make it something special again.

And special it is….



The home's rescuer, a New York jewelry designer by the name of Trish Becker, named the cottage Jewelbox, and it’s how it came to be known around our office. Everything in this house shines so brightly.

I asked Trish to hand us the keys to the Jewelbox kingdom: in other words, a few guidelines to renovating an old cottage like this, steeped in island history and begging for a little love. NOTE: these can be applied to any seen-better-days beach house that tugs at our heartstrings. Here are her Rules for Authenticity (along with a few extra shots not seen in the magazine):



Find Out Who Built the House. It's fun to renovate around real or imagined ancestors and let their "story" direct the details. For example, a wealthy merchant's former home might have crown molding, whereas a modest sailmaker's house might not.



Maintain the Original Footprint. If you need more room, consider exterior possibilities. For instance, separate laundry cottages look cute on a property and free up the home's living space.


Use Era-Appropriate Materials. They give a newly renovated house a sense of history. In this case, the doors and windows are solid wood, and the hardware is all brass or bronze.

Check out behind-the-scenes pics from the photo shoot here.

Check out a few more of my favorite cottages here.