Beach House Decorating

Mentor Kati Curtis, Principal of Nirmada, spills her top six must haves for summer home, cottage or beach house decorating.>>

Beach House Must Haves

As cold as it is in NYC today, it’s hard to imagine summer will ever be here. But now is the time to be wrapping up  your beach house decorating, cottage or summer home in order to have things ready by Memorial Day.

I have been spending the last few sleepless nights wrapping up construction documents for two houses we’re renovating on the Jersey shore. Not the “Jersey Shore” you see on TV, but the Jersey shore an hour from Manhattan, which is also the playground for the more private rich and famous. The Clients are aiming to be in there in May, so we’re on a super-tight schedule and are pulling out all of the stops to make it happen! We’ve added a roof deck with a hot tub with views of both the river and the ocean. A custom spiral stair from Italy whisks you up to this new vantage point.

But it’s what’s INSIDE the house that’s really the most important part, right? Well after all of this hard work, we can honestly offer some advice to those of you prepping your home for the summer – in the Hamptons, The Jersey Shore, or wherever your beach bumming preference might be.

1.    Cotton Dhurrie Rugs: One thing is for certain, you’re going to get dirty at the beach. Madeline Weinrib Atelier has vibrant and versatile cotton flatweave dhurries that are easily shaken clean, or washed when needed. I like to layer a few on top of each other for extra softness and interest.

2.    Stone Floors: Wet bathing suits and sandy feet can ruin hardwood floors. Stone floors stay cool in the summer and can take the beating that beach living can bring. We’re using travertine floors from Walker Zanger in the Family Room of one of our beach houses. In the bathrooms we’re using  the new “Ocean Glass” tiles from Ann Sacks. There iridescent finishes reflect beautiful coastal blue and greens.

3.    Organic Cotton Sheets: Cool and truly clean are organic cotton sheets. We love to mix and match prints from Plover Organics. I actually use these in my own year round home, but they’re great for the beach. Easy to wash and dry, these sheets are certified internationally by the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).  Coyuchi Organics also makes gorgeous soft linens and blankets – perfect for snuggling on a cool summer evening.

4.    Teak and Concrete Furniture:  Be sure to use furniture that can withstand heat and humidity like these amazing pieces from Bevara Design hand crated from teak and concrete. Teak is often used to build ships and has superior water resistance. Concrete, when sealed, holds up well to wear and tear, and looks great when weathered with time.

5.    Forget the fish and seashells.  I’m not into nautical themes….there, I said it. Just because your house it at the beach, doesn’t mean you should decorate it with anchors and shells. Just don’t. Please.

6.    Check your Cabinets: Wood expands and contracts with humidity. Make sure your cabinets at the coast are reinforced to withstand moisture. The easiest way to do this is with NAUF substrates instead of hardwood to minimize expansion and contraction, and finish with a durable acrylic finish.

Consult a professional interior designer who is versed in coastal design as there are special accommodations that need to be addressed to create a home at the beach that with withstand wear and tear beautifully for years to come.  

Nirmada, author of this feature, is a Interior Design firm in New York City. Kati would love to talk to you about designing a space expressly for you.

You can also find a full list of all our global mentors [ who are top professional interior designers ] on our Mentors Page.

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