Whether big or small, elaborate or modest... we LOVE them!
Some of us want to be near the ocean or brackish waters while others prefer a lovely lake house surrounded by woods. It’s the 'escape' to the waters edge we all want…

A seaside home represents tranquility and peacefulness, evenings filled with camaraderie; it's a panacea to a hectic urban life.


We'll start with some well known Seaside Homes.

(Source: Richard Morris Hunt, Newport Rhode Island)
"The Breakers" a 65,000 square foot home, built in 1895 for Cornelius Vanderbilt II.   It's small, but I still like it.

(Source: Billy Baldwin; Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France)

This pee-in-your-pants view from the house toward Cap-d'Ail & Monaco is to die for... "Villa Fiorentina" the absolute most famous seaside house everrrrr! In 1969 Billy Baldwin decorated this villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France for Harting & Mary Wells Lawrence, and it's still considered one of Billy Baldwin's most important jobs in his career.

(Source: Frank Lloyd Wright; Mill Run, Pennsylvania)
"Fallingwater" built in 1938 for the owners of Pittsburgh's Kaufmann's Department Store.   It was such a spectacular home for its day it was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1938.  I've been, it's worth the trip! Falling Water

(Michael Taylor; Southern California)
When I was a kid and dreaming of being a decorator one day... this was one of the images that inspired me.  This room  was decorated over thirty years ago!!!   Can you imagine a room with staying power for 30+ years?  This is the perfect west coast space;  it's rugged, natural, modern, grand, cozy and inviting.


(Source: Victoria Hagan, Nantucket)
This home's been shown soooo many times (on this blog too!) as the new standard for the quintessential beach house!   Simple textiles of stripes and plaids feel beachy and casual, painted walls and simple antiques... all give way to the spectacular water views!

(Source: Tristan Auer, Cote d'Azur)
Swagtastic!!   Who says a seaside house needs to be done in blue and white with old fashioned overstuffed furniture?  The utilization of cement floors, painted ceilings and raw wood walls rocks, and the organic African pieces fit perfectly too.  It's comfortable, cozy and organic... very today!

(Source: Unknown)
That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!
This seaside home is the bomb!!!  Colorful, youthful, fun, sexy and open to the views of the river in front!  The painted patterned floor mixed with large solid colors and very few graphic patterns are the keys to this house's success.  Notice: Windows are curtain-less!  Please...who's gonna see you from the water?

(Source: Oscar de la Renta; Dominican Republic)
Oscar De la Renta's home in the DR is the most beautiful island home I know of (in the upper brackets). It has historical references, patina and tons of style, albeit a tad formal for most of us.

(Oscar De la Renta, Dominican Republic)
One of the many bedrooms in his D.R. home, which I think is so amazingly appropriate for the Islands.

(Source: Designer Unknown)
This Florida seaside dining room is so pure; it's fresh and it speaks to the local vernacular with the tropical-themed hand-painted walls. Notice:  The budget was spent on the mural, not the furniture which was a wise move. These pieces, although well-designed are not expensive pieces (I think they're Baker "Milling Road" collection).

(Source: Brooks & Falotico, Hobe Sound, Florida)
A bit matchy-poo for my taste, but it still works.  A happy and clean-lined room with a good seating arrangement.  Nothing here is precious; a Pottery Barn style sofa, knockoff Spitzmiller lamps and inexpensive tables.  The simple, natural window blinds are perfect too.

(Source: Kieran Timberlake, Taylors Island, MD)
This house gives me wood!  The stunning, environmentally friendly prefab house built among the pines is so enticing.  The exterior is artistic while providing camouflage to fit in among the woodlands.   The natural cedar resists the salt spray and never needs painting.

(Architect: Howard Backen;  Napa Valley, CA)
LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!  Tres naturale!  The organic melange of raw stucco, light woods and natural materials mixed with fun pieces like the Frank Gehry chairs in red make this house sleek and fun.  Lake houses don't need to be Adirondack style, they can be what YOU want them to be, just don't forget to focus on the water...

(Source: Carter Kay, South Carolina)
The blue cabinets are a pleasant surprise - complimented by the wave-patterned cotton rug and backsplash glass tiles.  The wide open counters in soapstone offer lots of room for serving casually.

(Source: Unknown)
This cozylicious home has plain whitewashed 'planking' applied horizontally to the walls and the ceiling is painted celadon green to match the Roman shades.  Brown's, beige's, green's and touches of blue along with the accessories all create a great narrative.

(Source: Gil Shafer; Ocean Grove, NJ)
How cool to use slate blue trim with light blue floors?!  The plain textiles are what makes it all even better; the 70's white painted rattan furniture covered in pastel seafoam blues and greens.  Cheap and Chic, go figure!

(Source: Coastal Living, St. Barth's)
Job #1 is seeing the water as much as possible.  This hugantous kitchen with the island facing the water is perfect, it's large enough to accommodate those evenings where you invite 8 friends and 20 frienimy's arrive...

(Source: Joseph Paul Davis; Sarasota, FL)
In 1990 I decorated this beach house in Sarasota Florida for my own private winter hideaway.  Designed in the 1952 by Paul Rudolph, I tried to keep the original, modern integrity whilst bringing it up to date.  I think it still looks quite current. 

(Source: Joseph Paul Davis; Chesapeake Bay)
 In 1988 I purchased this 18th c. house for weekends.  The house sits on a narrow peninsula and I didn't want the interior to detract from the priceless views so I used neutrals with English antiques to bridge the transition from 1786 to 1988.  Again, I think this house still looks great 23 years later!!!! (patting self on back)

(Source: Designer Unknown; New Zealand)
Uh yeah,  that's HOT!  How refreshing to have something modern on the shore. No cedar shingles, boxwood gardens or chintz here... Less is definitely more...!

(Source: El Decor, Connecticut)
The bedroom is for your swinger friends!  These plank-bottomed platforms suspended by the super-sized hemp ropes subtly suggests the beach thang without being corny!


Where's the freekin' rattan, beige wall-to-wall and poster art?  The mix of Jean-Michel Frank's 30's upholstery, 60's style terrazzo floors, a 1920's Mies chair and a contemporary Liagre coffee table work well.   The white, clean lines with black is always, always classic.

(Carter Kay; South Carolina)
Antiques in a seaside condo? No way!  Wayyyyyyy...
How wicked do these gently worn old pieces and soft lines look in this space? And the beadboard ceiling adds that extra 'thang' Suhweeeheeet, I know...

This, is My-yami? YUP! It's not that slick modern you'd expect... which is what makes it work!  It's transitional.  The sage-blue is easy on the eyes and the eclectic mix of a 60's sofa, Lucite table and two English club chairs...they all hum along together nicely.

Pottery Barn 101:  Does comfort get any simpler than this??  I love the old kitchen table with chopped off legs painted chippy white, it gives this super modern room some patina.

(Source: Joseph Paul Davis; Rehoboth Beach, DE)

The two shots above are on the Atlantic Ocean. I matched the interior palette with the ocean colors, all greeny-blueish-grayish  tones.  I'm not big on too many patterned fabrics especially when there's a killer view, so I used fabrics with sensual, tactile qualities, e.g.: chenille's, cotton's, leather's, etc.  


These two spaces send my chic-o-meter spinning... I adore the soft pastel tones on pieces mixed with an ethnic carpet and the driftwood colored walls and floor... and this outdoor deck speaks for itself...

(Source: Maine)
The summer of '42 speaks to us all...   
K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid!)

(Source: East Hampton, NY)
This is one of my favorite houses EVERRRR (Oprah voice)
budget-wise cottage, done carefully.  The white background is the perfect canvas for the artisanal pieces, carefully selected for their color and visual weight.

(Source: Schappacher-White, Georgian Bay, Canada)
This design of this pimped-out lakeside cottage is shabby chic; sloppy slipcovers and painted floors.  It's smartly updated with the bold infusion of black and black only.  Let the outdoors or the occupants be the color, this room isn't big enough for too much pattern or color.


This foyer table has a $20 assemblage crap but it works great!  
When making vignettes - use similar items, like they've done here; straw covered bottles and hats with the blues of the textile and watercolor are totally perfect together.

This small cottage has this great old, weathered sand-retention fence hung on the wall where the owners stick their favorite photos. Artful and Cheap... gotta love that!

(Source: Southern Accents)
This English dresser with the collection of cream-ware is toned down with the old wine bottles on top. Otherwise it would be too formal looking.


This is such a frigid feeling room; no coziness, nothing natural, no creativity and wayyyy too much seating.  Where Im I gonna sit in my damp swim-suit and what will I put my sandy feet on?

Really?? You're gonna dedicate an entire room to a useless set of torture-chamber chairs and a farshtunken metal table?
 Dial 911 Pretentious, now.

You can do it, I'm here to help!