The Washington Post

Tips for Decorating a Beach House

A beach house gets a tougher workout inside as well as outside. The Burns house in Bethany Beach, Del., often has every guest room occupied, and kids and dogs coming off the beach can track in wet sand. Beach living calls for a simple color scheme and a pared-down look, says Washington designer Erica Burns. Here are some of her suggestions.

1. Create spaces easily shared by lots of people. Because three generations of the Burns family and their friends are regularly at the house, Erica created a system to identify whose towel was on which bathroom hook. (Her mother-in-law, Nancy, is a fan of all-white towels.) Erica painted $2 frames from Michaels with chalkboard paint and glued on ribbons for hanging. Guests write their initials in chalk to mark their hook.

2. Don’t skimp on outdoor furniture. At the beach, your deck or porch is usually your main living space. The furniture needs to be able to withstand sun, sand and damp bathing suits, and be comfortable for large groups. She used Gloster chairs and coffee table on the sundeck. Their mahogany frames have multiple coats of marine-grade paint. The thick cushions are beige indoor-outdoor fabric.

3. Use lots of wood. Erica found reclaimed farmhouse wood dining tables, coffee tables and end tables that can withstand hot mugs and chilled sodas. This type of distressed wood already has nicks and discoloration in it, so anything additional just blends in. She installed recycled barn wood flooring (as opposed to a new polished wood) instead of wall-to-wall carpeting. Wood is more comfortable for bare feet, easier to keep clean and a better choice for dogs, too. (Scratching from dogs’ nails doesn’t really show.)

4. Don’t use too many colors. Keep walls and upholstery neutral and add color with pillows and throws. Erica used white, sand and pale blue as colors in the main rooms, with a shot of pink in several spaces to tie it together.

5. Keep to a simple paint palette. Most of the main floor is painted a sandy color, Benjamin Moore’s Winds Breath. (Erica requested a 25 percent lighter version of the formula to give it a more sun-washed look.) Fanfare by Benjamin Moore, a subtle blue-gray, was used in the master bedroom and bathroom and a first-floor bedroom.
The trim throughout is Super White by Benjamin Moore.

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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