Whether sophisticated or rustic, beach cottages are the perfect summer retreat. Coastal style fluctuates depending on your chosen beach and even changes from East to West coasts. There is always excitement in the air when heading to the beach. Families want to feel most relaxed when vacationing, so the home's personality needs to reflect that same lazy-days-of-summer attitude.
Beach cottages hold a place in visitors' memories as the house where they spent their favorite sun-filled days. Sometimes families use these spots as a place to escape the hectic schedules of everyday life. No matter why you choose to visit or purchase a beach cottage of your own, these oceanside retreats are some of our favorites.
Charming South Carolina Cottage
When Bonnie and Anthony McAlister of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, decided to renovate their beach cottage, the only thing they knew they wanted was color. "We wanted the house to be comfortable but also fun and exciting," says Anthony. "The idea was to get that 'coming into a beach house feeling' where you know you're going to have a good time."
Lively Living Area
Energized with green and coral punches, this living and dining room area complements its oceanside surroundings. Coastal accents, such as seagrass rugs, pieces of coral, and bamboo flatware, are scattered throughout to reflect South Carolina's beach-loving lifestyle. The long, wooden table adds a rustic charm to the carefree space.
Soothing Blue Bedroom
Inspired by the harbor, the homeowners chose a calming blue palette and added an oyster shell-encrusted mirror. The sand and sea color palette is ideal for a beach home. They mixed in elements that bring the room to life—throw pillows and a killer light fixture.
The floor, painted a leafy green, highlights the kitchen's weathered, beachy feel as the boards start to show through. Vintage-inspired beaded board lends more character to the room, while the white keeps it fresh and crisp. The bright orange door adds a fun element that works best in beach cottages.
Chic Beach Cottage
A North Carolina couple learned to live with—and play up—their cottage's quirky charms in Morehead City. While planning a renovation, Catherine and Mason Williams grew attached to the small 1914 cottage and decided not to make any additions but to optimize every inch of the 1,350 square feet. That's where the couple's four years of living on a 53-foot Ketch sailing yacht came in handy.
Sandy-Hued Living Room
The couple chose blue, white, and sandy hues for their living room. Fun lampshades bring the colors together, and a touch of rope trim provides a nautical touch. Sparingly used coastal accessories and a casual wooden coffee table accentuate the nautical feel.
A piece of salvaged crown molding serves as a shelf and holds a collection of sea coral. The homeowner scoured flea markets and integrated her finds into the decor. "I sought things that would lend a sense of history: old windows, mirrors, side tables, cabinet doors, and dressers," she says. She then used paint to freshen furnishings and give them a coastal vibe.
Cool Blue Bedroom
Although the main bedroom is small, the homeowners maximized their space by attaching a headboard with plenty of shelf space instead of traditional space-stealing bedside tables. Cool blues and whites make the room seem comforting rather than cramped. The window's natural light brings more airiness to this small room.
Durable Breakfast Nook
This plush seating area sees frequent use for eating or as a cozy reading nook. The cushions' natural golden shade forgives sandy feet, and the glossy paint on the wood floors is a low-cost, high-charm treatment ideal for a beach cottage. Adding extra lighting fixtures on the walls helps brighten this space for nighttime chats.
Surf Shack Chic
When Susan and Spencer Croul stumbled upon this cottage, they wanted to preserve the cottage's elements that made it so unique and charming. The minimalistic front porch is a nod to this laid-back area. Surrounded by white and cream, this cozy beach cottage looks right at home near the sandy beach.
In the bedroom, batik prints in the same color palette as the living room cover the space against a backdrop of crisp white. A John Severson watercolor painting of Waikiki Beach hangs above the built-in bed, bringing the outdoors inside. Vertical shiplap paneling adds a different maritime characteristic.
Charming Coastal Cottage
Stella and Dave Peterson's coastal Georgia vacation home has all the classic details. The house, built to mimic the century-old style, has broad porches with exposed rafter tails. "I'm an old-house person, but I've realized you can build character into new construction and create your history," Stella says.
Pastel Living Room
This serene living room came together in a wash of pastels. To promote conversation, designer Jane Coslick opted for four chairs instead of the traditional sofa-centered seating arrangement. She repeats fabric from the dining room on the round ottoman to unify the look of the adjacent rooms.
Quirky Dining Room
The 10-foot-long heart-pine dining table was painted and distressed. An assortment of side chairs scored at a local thrift store complements the table. A fresh application of candy-stripe fabric unifies the mismatched set of chairs.
Retro Beach Kitchen
The punchy turquoise hue of the vintage-style appliance puts a stylish spin on the space. A tumbled-glass backsplash mimics natural sea glass and contrasts the sleek concrete countertops. Reproduction pendant lighting and period barstools top off the soda fountain look the homeowners hoped to achieve.
Simple Beach Cottage Style
Homeowner Jerry West Sanders transformed this Scottage into her dream home. "I wanted a simple, coastal look for easy living," she says. "I like color, but I don't use it in this setting."
Bright-White Living Room
The homeowner used easy-to-wash white slipcovers to keep things simple in her living room so as not to distract from the gorgeous view. Hanging white linen or cotton draperies and shades on doorways and windows add a dreamlike quality to the summer's breeze. A little splash of blue from the throw pillows is the only color used.
A refurbished mantel serves as a headboard in this bedroom. The homeowner installed sconces for nighttime reading because the small space doesn't allow for bedside tables. Layering neutrals in the room adds texture and charm without an abundance of clutter.
Rustic Dining Room
Mexican tile floors give the dining room, which also doubles as an office, a more rustic look. "The room had wood walls and wood beams, so I felt like that was enough," homeowner Jerry West Sanders says. To connect the room with the rest of the interiors, she introduced touches of white in a painted table, corner cupboard, and chandelier.
Outdoor Living Space
Previous owners built an outdoor room at the end of the main-level deck as a windbreak. The space is outfitted with a hutch, buffet, chandelier, and draperies to make it a comfortable extension of the living space. There is no better place to unwind than looking at the water.
Old-Meets-New Beach Cottage
For her centuries-old cottage, Catherine Lippincott—with the help of a close friend and designer Tom Scheerer—shattered convention and followed her heart, pairing unexpected colors and juxtaposing her favorite traditional and modern pieces of furniture and art. The result? A perfectly imperfect mix of new and vintage pieces, both distressed, sleek, subtle, and daring.
Campy Living Room
Light wicker furniture and a soft blue wing chair balance the heavier wood of the living room. For a super-casual, camplike feel, try hemming the curtains, so they hit just at the windowsills. This look works exceptionally well in rooms with high ceilings and wainscoting, which provides a natural visual cue for the shorter length.
Consider a face-lift of what you already have before writing it off completely. With just a few tweaks, an old four-poster bed found a place in this bedroom. The bed was painted black with a satin finish to give it a more modern look and match the iron extensions and canopy frame attached to the posts. Now the canopy, made from old Indian bedspreads, reaches the ceiling.
The homeowner uses her sunroom to curl up with a book or hang with friends, so comfy seating was a must. She had only an 11- by 13-foot area to work with, so she had her contractor build two benches for a space-saving and less expensive option than a sectional. She kept the room cheery and bright with fresh white paint on the walls and ceiling and colorful blue cushions.
Vibrant Dining Room
The once-dingy white industrial pendant light was utilitarian before being doused with cobalt paint. A coat of sunny yellow takes the Chippendale chairs from traditional to kitschy with the stroke of a paintbrush. Mixing finishes like what's on these tables and chairs adds textual variety.
Quaint Beach Cottage
Hal and Mary Quayle fell in love with this 100-year-old cottage, and after some simple touch-ups, turned it into a cozy hideaway with thrilling views. They embraced the cottage's quirky character and celebrated its aged-to-perfection charm. The Maine coastline seems designed for quaint coastal cottages .
Typical Cottage Bedroom
Wood-planked floors and cozy quilts made of light, sea-colored pastels honor the rustic feel of the century-old cottage . It embraces the charm of the setting and the house. Contrasting the wood surroundings, the pop of white and pastels break up an otherwise dim area.
Kitchen with a View
The tiny breakfast table in front of the windows provides the best view of the waves. A collection of enamelware in the kitchen's open cabinets came with the house and was surprisingly in the homeowner's favorite shades of blue. It's hard to go wrong with blue in a beachfront cottage.
The enclosed sunroom offers an ideal spot to sit and watch the bay while still protected from the elements. Even on stormy evenings, the room provides thrilling views. White ceilings and floors allow the outside water to shine.
For many, the choice to pack up and move to an island paradise happens only after lifelong dreaming and years of searching. For Charleston, South Carolina, residents LeGrand and Allison Elebash, a developer and interior designer, respectively, that decision was almost instant. "We were offered an opportunity to build a resort on St. Kitts, which required us to move there for a few years," says Allison.
Warm and Cozy Living Room
The home's open floor plan, original parquet floors, and West Indies-style vaulted ceilings stained dark brown appealed to the homeowners. "It was perfect—we wanted a home that felt like we were in the islands but still had an elegance about it because we entertain a lot," says Allison. The blend of coastal and modern furnishings achieves this look.
The family room's slipcovered sofa, bold coffee table, and patterned pillows exemplify one of Allison's simple design tricks: "I always like to start with neutral sofas because you can do anything with them," she says. "You can change out the pillows, side chairs, or tables in the room, and the sofa still works." The tropical influences emerge through the bold choice of colors.
Allison gave the couple's existing headboard a makeover in the main bedroom with soft blue fabric. The warm wood furniture, bamboo blinds, and seagrass rug reflect the home's natural vibe. Adding plants to any room increases its soothing effect.
Outfitted Outdoor Space
Allison ensured the porch accommodated the family's daily activities, including seaside siestas in a quilted hammock. "When we're home, we spend most of our time out on the porch," says Allison. "So there's a spot to do everything."
Colorful Carolina Cottage
Over a decade, this getaway on the marsh in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina , had seen it all: kids growing up, graduating, moving away, getting married, having kids of their own. But while things changed and evolved for the family, the house stayed the same. Wrapped in a large porch, this home invites cherished coastal memories.
Nurture Your Nature
Carroll didn't have to look far to find the color inspiration that would define the living room. She just had to glance out the windows. "When the marsh is in season, you get a bright hit of green where the grass meets the water," she says, "and when the sun sets, the sky turns pretty shades of lavender." To keep things from getting too overwhelming, she made sure to ground the space with soothing neutrals.
Room with a View
Because the dining room is open to the main living area, Carroll continued the green and lavender palette in softer, more subdued colorways to focus on food, friends, and family. "I didn't want to do too much here," she says, "but I love the chandelier. It's a custom piece that echoes the shape of a captain's wheel."
Pick a Starting Point
When Carroll laid eyes on the indoor-outdoor Trina Turk fabric, she didn't think twice about using it to upholster the guest room's custom headboard. She knew the fun and bold print was what homeowners had in mind. "The fabric became the jumping-off point," she says. "It informed everything else in the room."
Sea-Worthy Guest Room
The unexpected color combinations in the guest room's inspired Carroll to think outside the box. Draped in charming Katie Ridder wallpaper, the space uses the illustrated ships to dictate the rest of the decor. She borrowed the poppy red color from the tiny flag in the wallpaper's illustration and repeated this palette on the pillows and custom twin headboards. The Greek key motif adds sophistication to this room.
This picturesque, two-bedroom cottage was in prime condition, but new owners soon discovered they needed more space. Because of strict conservation regulations, the only option to add square feet was to create a new level below the first floor. "We didn't want a McMansion; we wanted to stay true to the house and allow it to keep its scale and its authentic aesthetic," the homeowner says.
Warm Gathering Space
The family room features a charmingly rustic vibe, thanks to its white-painted wooden ceiling, walls, and mix-and-match furnishings. The brick fireplace focal point adds to the authenticity of the home. Supporting the simplistic decor are touches of nautical blue.
The homeowners opened up the previously cramped kitchen to allow for entertaining. A wooden island allows for more guests, and the hanging light fixture brightens the small space. Helping to maximize this space is the use of windows, which transforms this kitchen with picturesque sightlines.
The couple opted for darker wood furnishings and accessories that pop against the light, exposed walls in the bedroom. Sconces provide more lighting without taking up space. The over-the-headboard window acts as a shelf and lighting source.
The office loft is the perfect place to enjoy the scenery, a cup of coffee, or even the occasional bit of paperwork. An accent chair provides a burst of sunshine-yellow in the room, but the in-swing casement windows offer the best sunshine view. Keeping the color palette neutral allows these elements to stand out.
A quaint, vintage cottage overlooking blue water is the perfect summer escape. One of the highlights of their yearly tradition is celebrating Independence Day on the water. The yellow-painted house sits right on the sands.
Red, white, and blue decor in the family room helps set the scene for their patriotic festivities. The hues of blue echo the gorgeous view of the breakers right outside. It helps that doors open directly to the sandy beach.
Lively Breakfast Nook
The narrow dining nook is a natural gathering space and further pulls in the homeowner's love of seafaring motifs. "It's like a real boat galley," the homeowner says. "Squeezing around the table is part of the experience!"
Classic beaded board lends a cottage feel to this relaxing bedroom, which is incredibly serene thanks to the light blue ceiling and calming blue palette. Still accented with pops of red, the overall atmosphere is relaxation and wellness. Flanking the bed is a set of windows, topped with Roman shades to expose sunlight.
Nod to Nautical
The red, white, and blue palettes resume in one of the children's rooms. Old buoys secured about the bed punctuate more pops of primary colors. Despite the various colors in this bedroom, it still has very cohesive decor.
Old Soul Georgia Cottage
This getaway on Whitemarsh Island, Georgia, was restored with the home's original character in mind. The addition of new shutters, blue window boxes , and a picket fence help to match its period look. Covering the home, a canopy of greenery surrounds the structure.
Punched Up Porch
On the porch, a red-and-white palette takes a modern twist. The graphic prints on the pendant lampshade and the bold striped cushions with contrasting welts infuse some personality. The coffee table appears to be a repurposed chest of drawers or file cabinets.
Reclaimed wood adorns the breakfast bar made from discarded planks of the original interior walls in the kitchen and dining areas. "The old wood gives the remodeled kitchen instant history," the designer says. Salvaged heart-pine floors add age underfoot and echo the bar's warm wood tones.
Laid-Back Living Room
The yellow vintage typewriter table, antique lamps, and old ship's lantern pay homage to the past in the living room. A white retro chair, graphic pillows, and simple, colorful artwork give the space a contemporary edge. The oyster shell painting from local artist Bellamy Murphy hangs over the sofa connecting the living area's range of hues.
The bedroom's new V-groove paneling keeps with the original style and spirit of the coastal cottage. The simple décor—the oyster shell chandelier, teal lamp, and colorful blanket—adds serenity to the space. Neutral walls and floors allow for the decorated pieces to stand out.
From Rental to Dream Cottage
Designer Jill Johnson remade a crumbling rental into her dream cottage, one room at a time. The charming herringbone brick pattern leads up to this home's entrance. Exterior designs add to the coastal vibe, including the cedar shake and white-painted bricks.
A fun mix of prints comes together beautifully in the living room, featuring incredible views of neighboring cottages and towering palm trees. The eclectic mix is cohesive through its shared subtle hues. Structurally, the porthole window adds a nautical element to the blend.
Kitchen Made for Entertaining
With its two-tiered marble-topped island and cozy wicker chairs, the kitchen begs guests to pull up a seat and stay a while. Open shelving shows off Johnson's cool-hued dishes, while small square windows wash the space in happy sunlight. The coastal kitchen gives off a sophisticated atmosphere through its high-end finishes.
The vintage bamboo chandelier, crisscross wallpaper, and cozy furnishings make this dining area both welcoming and refined. Still decorated in muted shades, the pops of color on the throw pillows invigorate the space. Matching the Roman shade to the linen furnishings shows an attention to detail when decorating this home.
Bright and Clean Bedroom
Light fabrics with bright accents give the room a much-needed openness. The ottoman and the bedside tables provide storage, while the fun striped rug adds a playful touch. Large picture windows and glass doors encourage the sunshine to touch every inch of the bedroom.
Vintage Key West Charmer
Designer Blair Gordon gave this lovely Key West cottage a modern update but kept the exterior true to the historic neighborhood. He used a conch shell pink on the siding, tempered the paint with a dark wood stain for the shutters, and painted the porch floors gray. "The bright color makes the house stand out," he says.
Sleek and Modern Kitchen
The kitchen's iridescent mosaic tile backsplash, capiz shell pendant light fixture, and îpe hardwood floors, lend an authentic feel thanks to their tropical island style. The large-scale fixtures paired with the dark wood floors, all-white walls, countertops, and cabinetry give the classic materials a touch of the unexpected.
A warm palette of cream, beige, and taupe is a natural fit for the living room's vintage style . Geometric shapes, such as the honeycomb pattern on the throw pillows or the trellis motif on the rug, add a graphic punch to the muted palette. A range of textures, from the woven blinds to the brass lamp to the lacquered coffee table, also enlivens the space.
Graphic Focal Point
To make the headboard in the bedroom, Blair enlarged a photograph of an antique French mirror, laser-cut a piece of wood to match the shape, and upholstered it in a large-scale print. Nailhead trim echoes the detailing and highlights the headboard's oversized, dramatic silhouette.
Nothing says "beach house" like a wall-mounted sailfish. Blair turned that coastal icon into a modern sculpture in the bunkroom with glossy white paint. "It wouldn't be Key West without a little conch culture, but there's no reason to go overboard," he says. The nautical bunks also got the white paint treatment.
Marsh Magic Cottage
Lovingly restored, the sinking marsh-front cottage in Georgia moved to higher ground. This home's new location is picture-perfect, encircled by a white picket fence. Waterviews highlight the home's ideal position from its wrap-around porch .
Living Room After
The stripped original poplar tongue-and-groove boards, heart pine flooring sealed with clear polyurethane, and beeswax-polished pine mantel lend a warm, welcoming glow. The off-white trim is a crisp touch. The oyster shell painting and modern rattan coffee table lend a coastal feel to the space.
Sleek and Simple Dining Room
French doors open to a new screened porch with water views in the dining room, replacing three small windows and a wood stove that heated the cottage before installing central heat. A round table with linen-covered chairs invites great conversation and intimate dinner parties. The new door installations provide an indoor-outdoor living space designed for entertaining.
Vaulting the ceilings and lengthening the bathroom by three feet gave the space a light, airy feel. The claw-foot tub lends old-school appeal. Adding to the classic style, using a stand-alone table for a vanity increases its original charm.
Vintage Connecticut Escape
This late 18th-century shingle-style cottage features 3,800 square feet spread over three floors, four bedrooms, and four full baths. The house tucked away behind hedges blends into its environment by adding green shutters .
Kitschy Dining Room
An ancestral portrait leans against the wall and sets the eclectic, rustic-meets-industrial tone. The one-of-a-kind dining table, made of vintage flooring from a Romanian farmhouse, is positioned on top of barley twist legs. The yellow chairs add bright color and are easy to clean—a plus in a house with young children.
Vintage fixtures, plus exposed original architectural details, create a warm, comfortable mood in the main bath . The large vanity contains two sinks and stretches the length of the bathroom. There are windows along the ground near the claw-foot tub to highlight sightlines of coastal beauty.
Airy Guest Bedroom
The homeowners bought the turn-of-the-century antique iron bed as a wedding gift. Tiny pineapples, a symbol of hospitality, rest on the bedposts. This simple yet welcoming bedroom is adorned with artwork on the walls and lining the floors.
Cute Kids' Room
Vintage toys, colorful books, and classic prints in bright shades infuse this kid's room with a happy-go-lucky vibe. The sheer circus tent-style drapes, suspended from the ceiling with eye hooks, lend an enchanted quality to standard twin beds and give Sadie Grey's room an under-the-big-top feel. The space has growth potential since the room accessorizes with sophisticated furnishings.