Beach house renovation tips

The Burns house in Bethany Beach, Del., needed updating for a new generation. Here are some remodeling ideas from Erica Burns, who served as project manager as well as designer for the project.

Prepare for the unexpected and figure out how to turn it into a plus. A discovery of water damage under the cedar siding forced the family to replace it. They chose an easy-care fiber-cement siding that will require no painting, a huge improvement. This offered a chance to reconfigure and enlarge a sundeck on the second floor, so now there’s a place to sit with ocean views.

Enhance the spaces where you spend the most time. Erica noticed the kitchen and screen porch were the go-to places for the family to hang out. She made the porch bigger and added an extra bar stool to the expanded kitchen island. In the living room, she enlarged the raised hearth where people like to sit and chat.

Accommodate technology. To prevent rooms full of power cords and chargers sticking out of every outlet, Erica planned built-in charging stations in the bedroom closets. Each station has three small compartments sized for laptops, tablets and cellphones.

Replace dated flimsy doors and doorknobs. Erica changed out the six-panel, hollow-core doors and commercial chrome knobs. She chose five-panel solid-core doors that reminded her of a 1920s cottage, as did the new Baldwin Filmore crystal knobs.

Rethink the height of bathroom vanities. The standard height used to be 30 inches in bathrooms, and 36 inches was used in kitchens. Erica says most people find 36 inches more comfortable in the bathroom as well, although she acknowledges the kids might have to use stools for a while to reach the sink.

Start a construction blog. This is a great way to share photos, and poll family members on project details, Erica says. Then you can turn all the before, during and after pictures into a special photo book to keep on the coffee table.

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The home and design coverage of Jura Koncius has taken her inside hundreds of homes, from tiny studios in Penn Quarter to country castles in Warrenton. Jura also hosts the Home Front live chat, Thursdays at 11 a.m. ET.
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