The phrase “coastal interior design” typically conjures up images of dove gray walls, whitewashed floorboards and driftwood decor. Woven baskets filled with sea glass, gauzy linen curtains and wicker furniture might also feature heavily. However, a number of contemporary designers have approached the concept differently in recent years, avoiding common themes and embracing antique and vintage inspiration. They have turned away from kitschy coastal elements and towards those that are more eye-catching and engaging, both of the moment and steeped in history. From velvet sectionals and metallic wallpapers to walnut cabinetry and industrial flair, designers like Michael Ferozco, Rita Konig and others have displayed unconventional approaches to coastal interior design. While these designers embrace the shapes, textures and tones traditionally associated with coastal interiors, they interpret each in new and exciting ways while honoring history. Follow below to learn more about these incredible designers and to view shots of their unusual coastal interior renovations.
HALLMARKS OF TRADITIONAL COASTAL INTERIORS
From beach side bungalows in Venice, California to preppy Cape Cods in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, the architectural styles of coastal homes vary widely. However, until recent years, both the interior decorating and exterior landscaping of coastal homes were fairly predictable. Coastal interiors often skew one of two ways: stark and minimalist filling the first slot and comfy and cozy taking the second. As Sienna Livermore explains in her article “Everything You Need To Know About Coastal Design” for House Beautiful, coastal decor traditionally uses “natural light, soft tones and a clean aesthetic…to evoke the breeziness of the beach.”
Livermore writes that “you won’t find many metallics or flashy textures, but rather natural materials or light, billowy fabrics.” With this somewhat narrow definition of coastal design, one might wonder how designers respond to the styles and desires of their more eclectic clients. Embracing organic textures and tones as the base of any coastal home — with room to play in other facets of the design scheme — appears to be key to creating a unique, dramatic and wholly personalized home along the coast.
UNUSUAL COASTAL RENOVATIONS TO INSPIRE YOUR 2021 REMODEL
THE TUDOR BEACH HOUSE BY MICHAEL FERZOCO OF ELEVEN INTERIORS
What to Expect of a Tudor Style Home
Classic and charming — with just a hint of mystery — Tudor style homes are quintessentially British. Despite their origins across the pond, the residential architectural style has captured the hearts of American designers and home buyers since the late 19th century, gaining recognition in the 1890s as part of the Revival Period. The Revival Period — often alternatively referred to as the “Eclectic Movement” — also produced such historicist styles as the Gothic Revival Style, Beaux Arts Style and Queen Anne Revival Style. Samantha Swenson describes the main architectural and ornamental elements of a Tudor home in her article “What is a Tudor Style House? Here’s Everything You Need to Know” for Elle Decor.
Swenson writes that while “European-trained architects ushered Tudor-style into America in the late nineteenth century…. Tudor-style homes saw a surge in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s.” The style — which fell out of favor after the Second World War — typically features “steeply pitched gable roofs, brick exteriors, hand-hewn half-timbering, masonry and stonework, and leaded glass windows.” As in the Tudor Beach House renovated by Michael Ferzoco and Eleven Interiors, many Tudor homes of this period boasted stunning handcrafted stained-glass — perhaps a happy consequence of the Revival Period’s abuttal with the Arts and Crafts Movement. Quoting ELLE Decor designer Steven Gambrel, Swenson writes that — above all — “‘for Tudor-style homes, an unparalleled level of quality is the name of the game.’”
Eleven Interiors’ Reno of the Tudor Beach House
There could be no more apt description of the Tudor Beach House’s interior — designed by Eleven Interiors and Michael Ferozco — than “unparalleled level of quality,” apart from intense attention to historic detail. The 4,570 square foot (4.25 a) home set in Gloucester, Massachusetts received a full makeover, including both renovations of each room and replacements of furnishings. The Eleven Interiors team included some pieces typical of coastal interiors — such as a wicker chair, white sofa and shades of teal and pale blue in the great room. However, other elements focused more on the history of the home and less on the kitschy modern conception of coastal decor. This home’s great room — or living room — features a dark-stained coffered ceiling. Its bathroom features a whimsical orchard print wallpaper — reminiscent of those by designer John Henry Dearle, a contemporary of the Revival Period — and a lovely pedestal sink. The kitchen features sleek cabinetry in sage green, opening into the pièce de résistance of the home: the period-appropriate dining room.
The Gloucester estate’s dining room absolutely stuns. The space oozes 1900s charm — a perfect mix of elegant and relaxed — with a paneled green dado and Morris Lewis-esque wall coverings. Other features include a delicate Lunel-reminiscent chandelier, Thonet Bentwood chairs and original stained-glass windows. With their linear designs and soft colors, the stained-glass windows resemble those of the modern prairie style commonly attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright. A nursery, partially enclosed sun room, library and several bedrooms round out the rest of the interior. Each of these rooms has been decorated in a fairly traditional manner, with shades of white, blue, green and lilac. Learn more about the home through the Eleven Interiors website or on their Instagram. Photos shown above were taken by Michael Lee of Michael Lee Photography.
THE MILL VALLEY HOME BY RITA KONIG AND G. P. SCHAFER ARCHITECT
Context Surrounding the Mill Valley Home
Just north of San Francisco, Mill Valley is a picturesque beach-side town in Marin County, California. According to the Marin Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, the town of Mill Valley is “nestled below majestic Mount Tamalpais [and] is reminiscent of a charming European village.” Just touching the San Francisco Bay at its most southeast point, Mill Valley is surrounded by both a marsh preserve and by Muir Woods — “an ancient coastal redwood forest.” Given that the area is steeped in such history, it should come as no surprise that history was a major touchstone for collaborators on the project which included interior London interior designer Rita Konig and G. P. Schafer — a premier architectural firm.
According to the GPSA online brief on the Mill Valley House, the home — featured within the pages of an issue of Elle Decor — was purchased by a couple relocating to San Francisco from New York. The owners sought out both GPSA and Rita Konig in order to renovate and expand the home into a functional, family-friendly space. While the goal was to update the home to the family’s contemporary needs, focus was also placed on “retaining the original 1870s cabin elements they had fallen in love with at the core of the house.”
Design Elements of the Renovated Mill Valley Home
The Mill Valley home truly maintains the antique charm of the original 19th century build while honoring contemporary design and modern practicality. Natural materials fill each space and add to an organic color palette of blonde woods, warm whites, hunter green and blue-gray. Each room is far different from the last, with every one imbued with its own individual character. Wall coverings and textures play a particularly center-stage part in this theatrical — yet perfectly livable — presentation of a historic home. White-washed vertical paneling in the living room, kitchen and bathrooms float upwards to grace the ceiling in the dining room and pseudo-study. Conservatory-style wallpaper adorns the walls of a sun room while a pink paisley wall covering and blush-toned chevron paneling impress in the master bedroom. A diamond checkerboard pattern on the floor of the bathroom carries over delightfully into the bar and onto the outdoor siding of the chimney, encircling the rather bemused subject of a 19th century portrait.
The bar is probably our favorite space — and likely the most dramatic. The glossy dark green paint of the ceiling and matte paint on the paneled walls provide the perfect amount of contrast. Absinthe-green buffet lamps, a paisley-upholstered wicker chair and a curio cabinet of bookcases behind the bar add to the eclectic vibe of the space. All in all, from tufted armchairs to reed roller shades and from plush rugs to wooden furniture roughened by time, texture clearly plays a starring role in this design scheme. Thin hallways, a lovingly restored staircase and antique furniture further remind visitors of the history of the home. For more photos of the project, visit Rinta Konig’s Instagram page.
Both the Mill Valley Home and the Tudor Beach House renovations prove that effectively updated historic coastal interiors can serve contemporary families exceptionally well — both aesthetically and functionally.