Does Beach House Decor Have To Look “Coastal?”

Hey Guys.



Thanks for weighing in on your thoughts about Cyndi’s lovely home in the beach community of Saint Simons Island, GA.

And, I’m back, coincidentally (or maybe not, since it’s summer) from my beach vacation in Cape Cod, MA. Provincetown, to be precise. Or, as the locals affectionately call it, Ptown.


Your comments plus, my trip are the inspiration for today’s post. The main idea is:
Does beach house decor need to look coastal?


Or rather, does a beach house for SALE need to look coastal?

But first, a little about my vacay which interweaves nicely with the beach house decor topic. (I hope!)


Cape Cod MA


Provincetown, if you don’t already know is a historical village on the tip of Cape Cod.

In addition to a historic beach community, today, Ptown is a popular vacation spot for those in the LGBT community. However, there are plenty of “straight” (whatever that means-lol) people and couples with children.


And, let me stop right here for a sec before someone decides to send me a message I don’t wish to receive.


I realize that there are people here of all different beliefs and some who believe that their way IS the only way. And, that’s absolutely fine. You may think and believe whatever you like. But, please keep it to yourself. Thank you.

I love all people who are kind, decent human beings. What they do with their private life is their business.


The best way for me to describe P-Town is like the East Village of NYC by the sea. Very colorful. :] And it was quite a steamy two days too! Oh, if you’ve never been to the east village in NYC, please add it to your bucket list and go to 6th St. (between 2nd and 1st Ave) for some terrific (and cheap) Indian food. You won’t be sorry.


I went on my Cape Cod vacation with my 28-yr-old son, Cale who lives in Boston.


He went to Beantown exactly 10 years ago to study music at New England Conservatory and stayed after graduating. Now, at 28, he has evolved into the most delightful young man. Very proud of him. And if you ever get to hear him play his trombone, you won’t be sorry about that either.

I wish I could say that I took a zillion pictures. I still haven’t programmed myself to do so. However, I did take a few which I will share with you.

Cale and I had been talking about taking a trip, but he was the fuel that made it happen.


And so, only two weeks ago, I got on one of those internet sites and quickly found a place that looked terrific. The White Porch Inn. They had one room left with only one bed. No problem. We’ll work it out. I booked it.

Cale had already been traveling and arrived at my place last Sunday. We drove to Boston the next day, spent the night and then left the next morning. On the way, we stopped at my dear friend, mentor and web guru Eileen Lonergan. And yeah… true to form, forgot to take pics of her brand new splendid kitchen.

You can see her lovely New England home in this post from four years ago!


After an easy trip up the cape, we arrived at our destination in Provincetown, MA – The White Porch Inn– Ahhhh… that’ll do.


White Porch Inn - Provincetown, MAThis is from the White Porch Inn website.

White Porch Inn Ptown MA
A better view of the porch, also from their website. Every evening, the guests are invited to convene here to enjoy a glass (or two) of wine.

Tom, the owner was waiting for us with a big, warm smile and we climbed up to our room– the penthouse. He couldn’t have been more gracious and explained everything to us including the history of the inn.

That included the fact that Cher had stayed in this room a couple of years ago!

YES Cher! And YES! I slept in Cher’s bed! haha And no. I don’t have a pic of it. But, the photo below, from their website, shows the area beyond the bed.

Handsome room with a great shower!

our room White Porch Inn Beach House Decor Provincetwon, MA

Well, I’m sure that I didn’t book this room, but it was ours because they had a cancellation.  And so, the penthouse we got, along with a roof terrace!

And there was plenty of room for Cale’s air mattress. He was a good sport about that.


The next images are mine from our rooftop terrace!


balcony White Porch Inn Provincetown, MA beach house decor Ptown libraryview of the historic Provincetown library and harbor beyond.

Cale Israel rooftop White Porch Inn - Provincetown, MA beach house decorYes, yes… I know. Calm down. He has a lovely girlfriend.

Cale Provincetown Bay - rooftop terrace - White Porch Inn - Provincetown, MAOur terrace is nearly as big as my bedroom!

Thunderstorm Provincetown beach house decor - rooftop balcony - White Porch InnNo, I wasn’t lucky. I cheated. (a little) haha. This is a still from a short video that I took. It did take a few tries however, to actually get the shot of the bolt.


These photos were taken near the end of our trip on Thursday morning.


Back to the beginning, Cale just had to go for a swim in the ocean.

The ocean, however is only about 500 feet away, so no problem there. I just dipped my feet in. The water was delicious!

The next six images are ones I took, except for the first one. :]

p-town-beach vacation with Cale-beach house decor
Then, we hadn’t really eaten much so we went for an early dinner at Pepe’s which is very near the White Porch Inn and on the water. Actually, you can see the entrance to the restaurant in the lightening bolt pic. It wasn’t cold, but it was quite breezy.

Cale - ptown beach vacation - Pepe's beach house decor
I have to take pics of Cale when he’s not looking. Just trust me on that one!

After dinner, we went for a long walk and saw the less “colorful” part of town that is in actuality, an elegant, New England-style coastal community.

Provincetown - hydrangeas - Federal architecture

If you don’t already know. Hydrangeas are my favorite flower. And there are tons of them in Ptown! Alas, some of the most beautiful gardens, we saw at night.

Provincetown blue hydrangeas dusk

Blue hydrangeas at dusk in Ptown.

After walking and window-shopping, we went for a yummy dessert at The Purple Feather on Commercial St. I highly recommend that.

Shor Home instagram interior design - architecture - gorgeous hydrangea topiaries - beach house decor
The following evening, nobody was standing in my way and I quickly snapped this lovely pic in front of Shor Home.


Please also follow Shor_home on instagram.

That evening, we saw this character, Dina Martina, do a fabulously entertaining one-woman show. I realize that this type of humor isn’t for everyone, but if you love seriously weirdly funny + irreverent about everything, you’ll love her! Here’s a clip of Dina on youtube.

We also did a lot of eating and shopping. The food in Ptown is terrific!

On Thursday, we packed up our things and said goodbye to the White Porch Inn.


Love this cosy eating area in the pretty blue and white kitchen where we ate breakfast. The kitchen was in a state of getting tidied up at that time. Arrgh. I had a chance earlier but as I said, wasn’t thinking enough about photos.

Memo to Laurel. TAKE PHOTOS!

Front Parlor - White Porch Inn - Beach House Decor
The front parlor at the White Porch Inn is handsome but not particularly “beachy” or even “coastal.”

There is a rotating display of original artwork for sale as well.

Another thing I noticed, is that there appears to be a town ordinance against having window treatments of any kind. I noticed this in many houses. I do love getting to see what’s behind the glass; from a distance. From a distance!!!

Herring Cove Beach - Provincetown, MA
Before we left, we drove around Ptown a bit and saw Herring Cove Beach on the far tip of Cape Cod. We were hoping for some bigger waves, but as you can see, that did not happen. Still, it’s very pretty.

Beautiful garden Wellfleet, Cape Cod, MAWe stopped in the town of Wellfleet on Cape Cod where I snapped this classic house and garden.

Okay, time to get back to beach house decor. Your comments inspired me to take a closer look at that.


In my mind, the perfect beach house– ever is the incredible film set from the movie, Something’s Gotta Give.


Something's Gotta Give - Beautiful Beach House Decor

I created this image from the video that I rented on youtube.


My friend and interior design colleague, Linda Merrill did an amazing compilation about this amazing beach house decor which links to all of the other awesome posts on the same topic.

However, this is a film and the set is the vision of a brilliant designer. But, a lot of people have copied this beautiful beach house decor since the movie came out 15 years ago.


And since I was just in a coastal beach area, I decided to have a look-see at the homes for sale in Provincetown for over a million dollars.


All of the images are from Capecod Ocean View Realty

So, please check them out for more images. The specific properties are also linked underneath their exterior image.

Below, the most expensive home currently for sale in Ptown.

47 Commercial St - Provincetown, MA-Ptown beachfront property
This beachfront property at 47 Commercial St, is so close to the water, it’s actually IN it! haha

Commercial St. is the main drag, but this home is away from the more intense section of shops, art galleries, restaurants and theaters.

Let’s look at one image of the interior. (for more images, please click the link above)

47 Commercial St. Provincetown, MA - ptown beach houseIt’s an antique home with low ceilings in most areas. For nearly 6.5 million, I’m a little underwhelmed with the decor. The house has oodles of charm. They could’ve done a lot better with the furnishings, IMO. And see? No window treatments. I do rather like that as it’s a cleaner non-fussy look.

7 Harbor Drive - Provincetown, MA Beach decor - beachfront property

7 Harbor Drive is a classic beach house stunner.


7 harbor drive ptown beachfront property decoruh oh. Apparently, they did not heed the Ptown ordinance for no window treatments, but they should have. Or, at least they should’ve done away with the valance. Definitely! And I would’ve put up a white linen drapery.

But, that view!


52 Point St. provincetown, MA - beachhouse decor

52 Point St. is another sprawling antique beauty


Let’s go inside.


52 Point St. Provincetown, MA beach house decorA handsome dining room, for sure, but definitely not what I am expecting to see for a home just a few hundred feet from a New England beach.

38-40 Commercial St. Ptown - beach house decor

38-40 Commercial St. is an interesting property


38-40 Commercial St. Ptown - beach house decor- trad living room - Oriental rugwith some quite nicely-done classic-traditional but definitely not what I think of when I think of beach house decor. Charming antique home, however.

584 Commercial St. Provincetown, MA Beach house decor - colorful584 Commercial St. is a classic Victorian of Historic Significance.


The listing says: “You truly feel transported to another time in history when you arrive at this home.”

I would go along with that. ;]

584 Commercial St. Provincetown, MA Beach house decor - entry

But, maybe a little too transported?

A Beach house decor - red living roomThis is a house that you leave your sunglasses when you come inside. It’s an incredibly lovely home. And I know. “It’s only paint.”

Do you think that buyers will be able to see past it?

But, maybe ONE will love the saturated hues.

I far prefer Gerald Bland’s lovely home built a few years before this one.

Well, Laurel. Fine. We get the point. You can have a coastal home and it doesn’t have to be shades of blue, white and beige. But, aren’t there any classic beach homes in Provincetown?


Yes, I did find one.  And for whatever it’s worth, I DO think that the interior of ANY home should tie into the home’s exterior in some way or other.


Architecturally, it’s everything I could ever want in a beach home.

139 Commercial St. #A, Provincetown, MA beachfront decor

139 Commercial St. in Provincetown, MA

Most of the decor is fine. There are a few things I would tweak.


139 Commercial St. Ptown, MA Beach house decor Cape Cod

I am showing this image because one) please take off the arm covers for the photo. And two, what I really want to see is a slipcover for the entire thing in white cotton duck. That would be sensational!

Well, this is a lot of images.

What do you think of the non-beachy colors for beach homes? Would you be able to see past them if you see a house you are interested in purchasing?


Thanks again for all of the great comments for Cyndi’s beach community home. She wrote me and said that many of the suggestions are helpful and appreciates the help.




PS: Don’t forget to check out this weekend’s hot sales!

94 Responses

  1. Really loved your useful, practical reno tips here! I hope to do a low-budget makeover at some point so I love seeing what you’ve achieved without ripping out everything.
    It’s just beautiful—tasteful, not cookie cutter, yet in keeping with today’s trends.
    Love it!

  2. If I go to New England, even if near or on a beach, I want a New England vibe, not a beach vibe……but I live in Pensacola, where the beach (gulf coast; the most beautiful beaches) are life. So I crave the historic New England feel. Or cozy, like in the movie The Love Letter with Ellen DeGeneres or even the gorgeous home on The Women. And many more. I want the collected look. I want a big cozy chair in a dark paneled room filled with books. I get enough of the beach stuff down here in Florida. And if I see one more all white room or sofas in white (i.e. instagram) then I am going to lose my mind. I mean, don’t people have dogs? I have a black lab and I literally sweep up a chihuahua size amount of hair every. Single. Day. Her hair is EVERYWHERE. I could never be comfortable with white furnishings.

  3. Speaking of big dark couches (& not this post)… I knew I would find it again. From the post about buying from the internet, I saw the big couch the “homeowner” bought & I think the premise was it wouldn’t fit in through the door. Anyway. It was on the show Luke Cage! On Netflix. No one else would get it, but I laughed. Your site is wonderful & my head is spinning with plans for when we move next year. I’ve read the North Facing Room 4 times, & I’m working on mood boards & plans for when husband says that doesn’t look “comfortable.” Thanks so much!!

  4. I really and truly hate the black modern chairs in the beach house you initially explored. The entire home has a cohesive feel except for the plastic chairs in the dining room situated around the antique oak table. Seriously? It is fine to mix and match but this was so out of place I have to wonder if a grand child designed them or if they won them at a fundraiser or something.

    1. Hi Shelley,

      So sorry it took me so long to respond and publish your comment. I agree about those chairs, 100%. My realtor would’ve screamed at me if I was trying to sell my house with those, much less a house near the beach.

  5. My husband’s family has a beach house in Truro –just south of Provincetown. It is definitely not decorated in the “coastal” way. The family’s taste runs more in MCM and Danish modern. Think Marimekko and Arabia of Finland. That said, it is also a house full of cast-offs and I wish I could simplify some things like the bedding (layers of white is my preference), which is getting very tired and worn and is mismatched and not in a good way. One note on window treatments on the East Coast: the morning sun wakes up EARLY! It wakes my kids up EARLY without window treatments and even though we’re off to the beach early, getting them to sleep in to 7 am would be so much nicer while on vacation.

  6. if you are on the water, that can mean a variety of things: Atlantic Coast? Pacific Coast? Gulf of Mexico coast? Great Lakes shore? Inland lakes shore? A river shore? etc. And also what part of the country you are in. I think it all factors into what the look should be regarding style, colors, patterns, accessories. I live near an inland lake in southeast Wisconsin. There is a certain “look” that is popular amongst the lake houses around here. But it may be entirely different somewhere else. One thing I don’t like? Cutesy signs that say something like “what happens at the lake stays at the lake” or whatever. No cutesy signs, thank you.

  7. Danielle, Lisa, Louise, as well as several other commenters make excellent points in distinguishing between the beach house of 20th century developed coastal areas (such as the Outer Banks of NC, Kiawah Island, Hilton Head, etc.) and a house that just happens to part of a coastal community whose roots are grounded in past centuries. I grew up in Newport, RI and I can tell you that neither my parents or any of their friends had a seashell or other nautical motif in sight. We lived in an 18th-century house, and although later my parents built a house right on the ocean, mahogany furniture carved by Newport craftsmen filled the house, along with other antique treasures auctioned off from the great summer cottages. If you go to MA towns such as Salem or Marblehead, you will see grand 17th and 18th-century houses on the waterfront that are as removed from a Nags Head weathered beach house as you can imagine. As others have pointed out, the idea of a beach house connotes a place that is a get-away from the routine of life elsewhere and where simplicity and ease of living are thus reflected in the furnishings. The golf and beach resorts that populate the South Atlantic coast are full of vacation rentals where I would bet that most vacationers expect interiors where sandy feet and wet bathing suits are welcome. Most of the houses photographed in Provincetown would not be considered “beach houses” because they were built for the ship’s captains and merchants who lived there and are still, for the most part, someone’s primary residence. Laurel, I have to disagree with your statement that Southerners care more about their decor than Northerners. Having lived both in NE and Virginia, I would say that bad taste is found in equal measure no matter what part of the country you are in.

    1. Hi Alexandra,

      Thanks for the interesting comment. By south, I meant deep south and perhaps more urban areas, like Atlanta and south TX. Of course, bad taste exists everywhere as does beautiful design. But, lucky you, getting to live in Newport. It’s one of my favorite places that we used to visit every year on our Rhode Island getaway long weekend. Watch Hill would be more of a beach community and of course, Weekapaug.

    2. Try this experiment. Look up multi-million dollar real estate in Boston and Atlanta. You won’t believe the difference. The Atlanta interiors almost all look like they belong on the cover of a magazine with no editing. They have employed some incredible designers.

      Then start looking at more reasonable price points and compare those.

      Regional differences are as real as real can be.

        1. Thanks for the link, Laurel. The houses and yards themselves are treasures! So much potential. I was dreaming about what I would do with them.

  8. So happy for you Laurel that you had a wonderful vacation and spent some quality time with your son. Have only been to PTown once and that was 53 years ago for only a day visit while staying in Hyannisport and Martha’s Vineyard (Nantucket) as was on a cross country road trip with a girl friend of mine in her little blue Ford Falcon. (We were 19 years old at the time.) Now back to your question; ‘does beach home decor have to look coastal?’ IMHO, I agree it should reflect the home’s exterior to a degree, noticing most of the photos you have shown are clad in casual ship lap and/or shakers, roofing is either the previous or architectural shingles and colours on the whole are light, clean ‘n airy being all elements that live in harmony with the environment. As for the last photo; the saturated colours both exterior and interior wise however remind me of the grand Victorian ‘painted ladies’ one might see in San Francisco ( -Brenda-

  9. The answer to the question, “Should a New England beach home look coastal?” might depend on whether one’s emphasis is on “New England,” or “beach.” This is a lovely historic town on the ocean- so there are two very strong design aesthetics at play here, either of which are appropriate in my opinion. Think of the designers at Disney World, who are masters of theming. You can stay at the Yacht Club with its quiet Victorian formailty, or the adjoining Beach Club which is all white woodwork, sunny colors and kids having a great time. But they are both both “beachy” and in fact, share the same pool.

    That didn’t seem to be the case last week, which featured a newer home on an island in Florida- however, there might be things we’re unaware of. Aesthetics can vary even from one neighborhood to the next. Like many towns in the mountains, mine started out as a 19th century mining camp, so there ARE historical neighborhoods where beautiful
    Victorians & cute miner’s shacks do exist- but no one wants that a couple miles away up the hill toward the ski resort.

    P.S. I love hydrangeas,too! Mine did pitifully this year and I miss them so much.

  10. You look great Laurel. Must be from spending time with your son and a musician too. My husband was impressed your son attend a conservatory. He is like that about musicians and wishes he was one. Maybe if he had worked at it in those early years!

    Thank goodness you clarified the beach/coastal interiors. I don’t remember seeing any sea shells in any photos. I guess the real estate agents threw those out the door before the photos were taken!

    And yes, I tell my husband about your blog. He loves your humor as do I.


    1. Thanks so much Barbara. Cale started playing the piano when he was three at his day care. They begged us to buy him a piano! Uh, we waited a few years for that. But, when he was in the 4th grade, the band teacher said he had to play the trombone. He didn’t want to play it, but he wanted to be in the band, so he reluctantly took on that instrument. He also took piano and then drum lessons. He never (or rarely) practiced his trombone at home, but by the end of 8th grade, it was obvious that he had a gift for it… Next came scholarships and opportunities to play all over the place while still in high school. Those were some very fun years!

  11. Hi Laurel, I’m a realtor on Cape Cod who specializes in historic real estate. I’ve noticed that there is a coastal, beachy look that many people associate with Cape Cod, but could just as easily be Long Island, or any other coastal community. This look is usually seen in second homes. However, the Cape has a long history and in fact, has the longest continuous historic district in the nation, The Old King’s Highway National Register Historic District. The town I live in, Sandwich, was incorporated in 1639 and is the oldest on the Cape. Many interiors on the Cape reflect that 400 years of history and the contributions of sea trade, and various religious communities, like the Quakers. I find as a realtor, that I often have to advise historic home clients to stage their homes in a less formal way when they put it on the market to appeal to the second home buyer. But that isn’t how many people decorate who live here. Sometimes a Coastal look can over power the vernacular style of a maritime community.

  12. I think the differences of opinion in direction of decor are regionally and historically based (and I’m talking pre-Civil War). In the North, beach towns/communities were historically primarily fishing/shipping, year-round residences. In the south, historically, beach towns did not exist. Yes, you had your few ports (Charleston, SC, for example) that were cities with large economies comparable to Provincetown, but the islands that the south now knows as beach towns were really just developed in the past 75 years. Before that, they were communities of farmers and descendents of slaves (see “The Water Is Wide” by Pat Conroy about Dafuskie Island in the 60s). And even before that, they consisted of large tracts in the form of farms/plantations of wealthy landowners.
    The development of Southern islands such as Hilton Head, Amelia Island, heck, even Myrtle Beach (ok, it’s not an island) is a very recent phenomenon and is tourism/resort/vacation-instigated, with the vast majority of residences being initially built as second homes. These areas have seen, in the past 20-30 years, a huge uptick in people moving in from other regions as retirees, often making them their primary home.
    My family’s beach home on Edisto Island (and all of the ones around it) was very much as Kathy described- bare-bones- intended for the utility of fishing, crabbing, and the subsequent sand (always equipped with a very-unfancy outdoor shower to rinse at least some of the sand off before you came in.)
    My expectation of a house at the beach are casual and utilitarian, but still home. Cindy’s house is beautiful and should be whatever she wants, but I completely understand that people would find a home like that a bit formal for the coast.

    1. There’s also a different aesthetic in decor, for the most part between north and south. Not to make sweeping generalizations because I don’t like doing that. But, over-all, people in the south are more concerned with the decor of their home. It extends to clothing, hair and make-up. I don’t see Cyndi’s home as being particularly formal. I find that the lighting is giving the home a “brochure feel” that if the lights were off, the home would appear more approachable and like I know that it is, in real life.

      I am hoping for a follow-up post one day to make a comparison. This has been a most interesting exercise!

      1. I have noticed myself that people in the South seem to care more. You know who else remarked on this? The Property Brothers on HGTV mentioned it after they did a show in Atlanta. Atlanta was a revelation for them because they weren’t used to seeing so many nice houses in one city.

        I have also noticed that even Southerners who are strictly middle class still put more effort in decor. My sister moved to a town in Illinois a few years ago, and when I looked at the real estate listings in the area, the difference was amazing. There was almost no attention paid to decor. You’d have to look at tons and tons of houses before coming across one that was well decorated.

        Regional differences are real.

  13. So many memories of Ptown from when I was in my 20’s. From your pics it looks as though things haven’t changed much either. The homes are as stunning now as they were then ! It really is an amazing place to visit. Just one thing I want to know …. how the heck do they keep those white railings looking so white ! Hahahahah

    And I’m so glad you referenced the movie Something’s Gotta Give because I couldn’t agree more that the set they created was the most beautiful one I’d ever seen. The kitchen they used in that movie is my favorite, FAVORITE one of all time. Oh, what lottery money could do ! Thanks again for posting something so visual and fun to read.

  14. What a wonderful place to stay and spend some quality time with your son. I hope my kids can still stand my company when they are that age! I was tickled because hydrangeas are my absolute favorite flower as well and am eagerly waiting for mine to bloom as beautifully as your photos.

  15. This is completely true, but when people are actually shopping for a home, they turn super picky and unrealistic. unfortunately.
    And then the expectations are raised even higher when you get to more expensive homes.
    Heck, idiots (sorry) on HGTV reject houses all the time based on silly stuff they can’t see past like carpet or paint color. It’s dumb, but it’s reality.

    1. Hi Lexy,

      Actually, I’m not sure if it’s reality because those shows are scripted. At least that’s what I’ve heard from people who are on them. The problem is that people don’t realize that they are scripted and then believe what they are hearing.

      1. Laurel, they are scripted, and what’s even crazier, the people aren’t actually shopping for a home – they’ve already bought/rented their home by the time they’re on the show. I know someone who was on the show and I asked him what the deal was, and he told me that the producers find people who have just purchased or leased a home and then they have them look at other places as if they’re still searching. So when they “reject” houses based on all that silly stuff, it’s even sillier, because it doesn’t even matter – they’ll never be buying it anyway!!

  16. Hi Laurel, I am writing this from our little beach house on Cape Cod, and in fact recognized almost every photo you took in Ptown! thanks for sharing. We got this 1980’s house in Chatham about 13 years ago, when it was decked head to toe in dark pine and wallpaper (not the good kind). Over the years, we stripped all of the wallpaper and painted every inch of it white (we painted so much, the local paint store gave us the contractor’s discount), and had all the mismatched wood floors stained dark throughout. We brought in more light by opening up walls and making a couple of windows larger, and after that, I don’t think it mattered what colors we used! To me, the musts in a beach house are 1) Lots of white; 2) Lots of natural light; 3) Make every room relaxed and approachable, nothing too precious (dogs and wet swimsuits allowed on the couch). I have accent colors in every room but the white really is the continuity throughout.

  17. Hi Laurel! Thank you so much for linking to my “Something’s Gotta Give” blog post! So kind of you! The next time you’re this way, please let me know. You were about a mile from my house on your way from Boston to Cape Cod!

    One place in Ptown that I’ve never been to is John Derian’s Shop, which is in the basement of his house on Commercial St. it’s either been to late in the day, or once it had just closed for the season the day before. Did you see it?

    1. Hi Linda,

      Oh my. That’s right. I forgot that you live in the Boston area. My son is currently in Roslyndale, but moving at the end of the month to western Mass.

      And Oh my again! I did not know that John Derian had a shop there! ugh. I would’ve loved to have gone. Serves me right for not researching the place first. Second note to self. Do your homework, Laurel!

  18. Hi Laurel, Thanks for sharing your vacation snaps! (Handsome son certainly added to the lovely scenery!) I did not comment on Cindy’s house because I felt I had nothing to add to the many comments. Well, except, I did not think anything was “wrong” with Cindy’s lovely house that would dissuade a buyer. The presence or absence of Coastal decor shouldn’t be an issue. As you illustrated, many houses in coastal areas are very traditional (see Charleston, Savannah, etc.) Patience is probably all that is needed 🙂 given the (justifiable) price point as well as its location in a flood plain, on the southeast coast which had a tough hurricane season in ’17! All the luck to Cindy and thanks to you for giving this special house increased exposure!

  19. Thanks for sharing your trip and your son with us, Laurel! Love that part of the country and your son is adorable!
    Those were some “interesting” homes for sale where the inside definitely didn’t match the outside. Yikes!
    I think decorating your home on the coast has a little something to do with whether it’s your primary residence or a second home. If it’s your primary, you might get “beached out” if you went totally coastal (is that like postal?) in your decor and your home would likely look like many of your neighbors. How boring. You can be just as creative at the beach as anywhere else! British Colonial, spa-like contemporary, traditional lite, etc. as long as it blends with the exterior as you say.
    I’m with you, though, I’ll take the house in Something’s Gotta Give for $1000, Alex! Or Gerald Brand’s incredible home, too!

      1. Oh wow! There’s a little bit of everything in that house! Victorian, NE Colonial, traditional….like it couldn’t figure out what it wanted to be, but definitely not a beach house! And how about that ship mural in the powder room? Appropriate space – I could feel the sea sickness!

  20. Laurel, it WOULD be quite difficult to get a feel for the beach life in most of these rooms. These are expensive homes, I would hesitate with these because I’d be buying a lifestyle as much as a house. They don’t reflect a sense of the environment, to me. My beach house would be 7 Harbor drive. Waking up in the morning and seeing the water through all of those windows, well that’s my dream.

    1. Hi Morgana,

      That one is a beauty for sure! I imagine that most folks buying these homes have already spent a lot of time visiting. And for some, the decor could suit their lifestyle. Others, can visualize changes that can be made. But, some can’t. I’ve seen a lot of homes that are new to the owner. And it never ceased to amaze me the plain, tasteless and downright ugly decor that many clients saw past and purchased anyway.

  21. Oh, what an absolute delight it was to read your post this morning! My family and I vacationed for a week in PTown last summer and it was one of our most wonderful vacations ever. The people, the beautiful homes, the food—what a joy! I devoured every one of your photos and reminisced about the beautiful gardens. We rented a home with a hammock in the front where every morning I read my book and watched a little bunny hop through the garden. We also saw the lovely Gina at her show, and my son sang (terribly) with her.

    Thank you so much for a wonderful post and for all the gorgeous pictures,

    1. Hi Gayna,

      Oh, that sounds so wonderful! It’s difficult for me to relax– completely. My website is like my third baby; the one that never grows up. But, it certainly feels like I got away. I would’ve loved to stay there for a week.

  22. Oh Laurel!I so love this post-Provincetown (where I’ve been once), and East Village (where I’ve been not once), and your wonderful son, and you!
    After this declaration of my feelings..back to your question..yes, I’m able to see past the colors)

    (most people are. Depends on their circumstances. In other countries the vast majority of people are very very able to see past the colors, and furnishings. They look at what’s important, and either cannot be changed, or cannot be changed without investing a lot, a lot of money.
    I’m sure in some markets here, in certain price ranges, folks are very able to see past colors and furnishings. Circumstances such and such make us see possibilities. Rather than being locked in whatever exact idea of a house we have in our mind.)

    I even love that scarlet wall color.Hm. Maybe I even won’t change it lol. But. Steep stairs-that’d be hard. Hard to use-for me-hard to change too. Circumstances.

    Thank you for the lovely,lovely post!

  23. I am not a big fan of the beach/coastal theme, even in a beach community, and don’t believe that your friend’s home in Georgia needed to be staged as one. It was gorgeous as-is. I didn’t comment on that post because I saw several people express my thoughts of just clearing the floors of a few rugs here and there and showing off more of the architecture. In general, homes don’t sell because they’re not priced right, But sometimes it is because buyers need to be shown better views to get them in the door.

    Anyway, I loved seeing your photos from Ptown. Such a fun place! And your accommodations were lovely. Glad you got some time with your son!

  24. Dear Laurel,This post is close to my heart. I live on Shelter Island NY. near the Hamptons. Most higher end homes do not have a specifically beachy feel, more classic with nods to the beach as it is a historic community. Many homes in beach locations tend to get a bit kitschy with the never ending coastal references.Our vacation home of 22 amazing years is for sale, 9 N.Menantic Road, Shelter Island NY. Would love you to take a look.

    It has been lovingly furnished with finds from all over the place..including dumpsters. I am a vintage vendor with One Kings Lane, not a decorator and love an eclectic collected mix in a home whether in the suburbs or at the beach. Subtle references to location are enough IMO. I adore your blog, (feel like I know you and love you) and read it with my coffee every Sunday morning, before anyone wakes up, heaven. It seems that anyone in their 40’s or younger simply cannot bear to see anything other than totally stark, minimal Mid-century interiors out here.

    The most enormous homes in the Hamptons are all staged exactly the same way. The photographer even told me she could no longer bear taking pictures of these very high end homes that all look exactly the same inside. Love to hear your opinion about that! So in conclusion, I think the most important part of a beach home is that it be comfortable, fairly indestructible and not take itself too seriously…wet bathing suits and sand make it what it is. Enjoy the rest of summer, so great you got away with the handsome son!! I also have 2 boys (men) 30 and 33 yrs, best gift ever!

    1. Oh Pamela! what an exquisite home/property! I’m sure that it must be bitter-sweet giving it up. And yes, it’s sad that things have become so generic and in a way I find rather bland. I’d far prefer to see a home that’s been lovingly appointed in a personal way, even if that person’s tastes don’t mirror my own.

    2. Pamela, your house is absolutely beautiful.

      I live in the mountains in the south, and there is a similar view in the more tasteful houses not to let the “mountain theme” take over. As you said, subtle nods to location are enough.

      We’re beginning to see more light and bright interpretations of mountain decor.

  25. I don’t know…from what I keep hearing, most people can’t see past the decor of a home for sale.
    In the homes you featured, I’m wondering if the folks filled the home with the things they already had. And if they did paint, chose colors that worked with that decor. Or took the advice of the person behind the counter in the paint department of the local hardware store. Like my friend did in her newly inherited beach home. 🤦‍♀️
    My husband likes to remind me that when I talk about decor & other people’s homes, that I live in a bubble. Most people just want a house that’s comfortable & functions for them. They would rather spend their money on other things. He says very few even care that their house is clean. He used to be a fireman/EMT & has been in a lot of homes.

    1. Thanks so much for the thought-provoking comment Mary. I think that most people probably want a clean home, but find cleaning to be a drag. And/or they stop seeing the dirt/mess.

  26. As lovely as these houses are they don’t say summer at the beach, to me. I grew up on the east coast. Summers were always spent at the beach. As a teenager spent summers working there and working on the boardwalk and any other manual labor job just to pay the boardinghouse rent. For me the ultimate beach home will always be soft grey painted floor boards, no rugs, simple metal beds with white bedspreads and sheer curtains on the windows blowing in the wind. Around a very plain wood table with simple chairs are people casually dressed some still in bathing suits cracking crabs eating and chatting. And as you said hydrangeas all around the cottage. The over the top beautiful homes don’t do much for me…..not at the beach. You just can’t compete with nature.

  27. I would enjoy more coastal posts. Cape Cod is coastal but not the same as Southern coastal like you would find in the communities below. I believe readers would do a double take!!

    Check out Alys Beach, Seaside, Rosemary Beach , Watercolor and Watersound. All lovely coastal communities in the Florida Panhandle. This region of Florida is
    very popular with families form Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas and Alabama. it reflects Southern coastal charm.

    Check out architect Geoff Chick, TS Adams, and Khoury & Vogt Architects.

    1. Oh my God, the Destin, Florida upscale communities Barbara mentioned are amazing.

      Laurel, you can look at the houses in the communities Barbara listed on vacation rental sites as well as Realtor sites.

      They are gorgeous. Also, they are on the very best beaches in Florida.

  28. Thank you for sharing a part of your lovely seaside stay!

    As a resident of a beachy tourist town (If on the Third Coast – Lake Michigan), I will say that there is rather a lot of “beach themed” expectation when people are shopping for a house here. This mostly, however, applies to the non-natives. Once you’ve been hear about 10 years, the buoy-lights-framing-the-door thing and glass floats with a net draped over the porch get to be a bit much. When you drive downtown, you find most of that confined to the seasonal rentals.

    I don’t know whether they suffer this in Ptown, but HERE, when the snow starts to fall and that bitter, bitter wind starts to shift in from over the Lake all that blue and white starts to feel… cold. Even the grey and white trend can have an icy feel when the mercury dips below zero.

    I think the thing I find most difficult is coming up with a palette and decor that feels both fresh and breezy in the summer and cozy and safe once winter rolls around. My husband and I are building a new home, and soon will be staging our little in-town Cape Cod for sale. You can bet I’m mining your blog for tips and tricks and trying to hit that happy medium of “house in a beach town that isn’t a beach rental.”

    Thanks for all you do, Laurel.

    1. Hi Holly,

      Coincidences abound. I have a sister named Holly and my mom used to live on Lake Michigan in Port Washington, WI. She and my step-father built a house in 1980, high on a bluff. Contemporary in style, the color scheme was lots of creams, browns and a little blue-green, but my mom always loved those colors.

  29. Good morning Laurel,
    The sun is shining again here in NYC this morning, not sure for how long. We’ve had some really rainy days here and the garden loves it but I’m ready to dry out for a bit!

    I really enjoyed reading about Cyndi’s home and seeing all the photos. You got a lot of really great, thoughtful comments. I was surprised by how many people suggested ditching the orange accents (I loved them) and how many felt a coastal beach house needed the interior decorating to also be beachy.

    I haven’t spent a lot of time in Provincetown but I have visited Martha’s Vineyard at least a dozen times and the interiors of the homes and inns I’ve been to are filled with antiques and nary a sign that indicates beach.

    Speaking of signs, I always wonder about homes that are decorated with painted wooden boards that say “Beach” or “Life is a Beach” or other witty beach sayings.

    For me, if I’m at the beach, I know I’m at the beach, I don’t need to be told.

    On the other hand, one of my guilty pleasures was the TV series Revenge that (although not filmed there) was supposed to be taking place in the Hamptons. I loved those homes that were definitely reflected a beachy and coastal vibe in their decorations

    Back to Cyndi’s home, it’s lovely but, in my opinion, maybe the price is a little high considering the changes I would have to make if I was thinking of buying it.
    1) I would close the open staircase,
    2) I would want a larger kitchen,
    3) I would want the the outdoor sitting area covered and screened. Maybe a lanai with pool, hot tub, etc.
    That’s all! haha! My needs are very modest! 😉

    Thanks again for making me think and dream!

    1. Hi Anna,

      Not sure if you realize this, but I’m only a few miles from the NYC border (Bronx). So your weather is 99% my weather too! At 11:30, the sun is TRYING to come out. I see some wispy blue, here and there. And yes, it’s been phenomenally rainy summer, but not a cool rainy summer; a steamy, sticky, soggy summer!

      1. Of course I realize that you live in the Bronx (I’m in Queens),
        That was why I mentioned the weather but in rereading what I wrote I see that it sounds like I’m updating you when all you have to do is look out the window!

        I love seeing photos of your apartment and reading about how you decorate it and realizing that we’re almost neighbors! 😉

        BTW, what’s the latest on your bedroom redecorating?

        1. Hi Anna,

          I live in Bronxville, not the Bronx. As the crow flies, I’m about 3 miles from the Bronx. The only burb below me is Mount Vernon.

          The bedroom stalled because I had to fire the contractor.

  30. Provincetown is a great place. I was just up there yesterday dropping friends from Colorado off for their annual week visit there

    I live further up the Cape (think of the Cape as an arm- Ptown is the hand and is the lower Cape) and sell floor covering and tile. Home owners that are here year round do not necessarily want the coastal look as this New England weather in the winter can turn any white gray and cold. I love the coastal look and help many customers go in that direction but those customers go elsewhere for winter. I do agree that for selling a house here on the Cape you need to paint in the lighter colors as I did recently…and that house had 3 people bidding on it…. color really helps

    On your next visit to Provincetown. Go to The Red Inn for dinner. Very special place.

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Oh what a coincidence! Yes, the cape looks like an arm. Funny that lower is north and upper is south. But if you think of upper arm and hand, it helps. I know that all of south-eastern MA got hammered last winter with the brutal nor’easters. We had them too, but didn’t have any bad after-effects where I live, close to NYC.

  31. First of all, if I could afford to live there, I would look past odd colors on walls, and hire you to help me redecorate! I also assume that most homes have been “handed down” to the next generation who have done their own tweaking of decorating. It would not be unusual to see antiques and over-stuffed furniture in the homes that were grandma’s, or great grandma’s. I’ve never been there; you have begun a new thought pattern of nice places to go. Thank you for all your articles, and your photos. I look forward to them all.

  32. This is a timely topic for me because we are building a beach house in South Carolina. I’ve spent a lot of time in several beach houses, owned by friends and family and rentals. I think coastal decor often screams summer vacation and summer rental. The beach is often cold in the winter, even in the south. And, like everywhere else, the days are short and the nights are long. We go there in all seasons and I want a decor that reflects that. My favorite homes look like year round homes with the influence of the local environment. So, maybe some clearer colors, maybe more blue and aqua, but not all grey and driftwood, and white slipcovers. It can be a hard balance, but I know when it’s right. I looked at beach homes to buy before deciding to rent and the least appealing ones were those that looked like summer seasonal homes with beach themes. Just my opinion. And, yes, I will be doing window treatments, but not white linen. We need more sun blocking on one side and more warmth and coziness in the cooler seasons.

    1. I agree with that Cheryl. One thing that people forget, especially with beach homes, is that the rooms still need to have some black in them. That’s what makes the Diane Keaton living room so fabulous; the black wicker chairs, lamps, etc. It balances out all of the pale while still giving the feeling that the entire room is pale.

      Actually, we had a mostly white on white living room with black accents and unlined white linen Roman Shades. I loved it year round!

  33. Hi Laurel,

    I’m glad you had such a nice trip with Cale, and how nice that you have that kind of relationship. He is adorable. You are lucky.

    While I don’t have any beach colors at all in my current home in northern Illinois, if I had such a home, I would definitely want the home to reflect the area in some way. Those were some gorgeous views and photos. I’m like you–I need to take more.

    That home in Georgia is gorgeous. I didn’t comment on it because I had no knowledge of the real estate in the area. My husband and I sold real estate as a second job just after September 11 happened, because he is in the airline industry and we were a little scared at the time. I am glad we did it, and I certainly learned a lot, but it really wasn’t for me. You have to love doing it, which I didn’t. But I was interested in the comments of the people who did know what they were talking about.

    Well, I’m selfishly glad you are back so I can look forward to more decorating wisdom from you!


    1. Thanks so much Connie! Yes, I am lucky that Cale and I have a great relationship. Oh, make no mistake, we can get on each other’s nerves, on occasion, but always clear the air, quickly. I realized by the time he was 17, that we are very much a like in a lot of ways. But, mostly we are laughing when we’re together.

  34. It was such fun to see you and Cale! Thanks for not mentioning that I put you to work measuring and peppering you with questions about my kitchen 🙂

    As someone who lives near the coast, I like a little beachy feel.

    One thing we didn’t talk about with Ptown is what an amazing writing community there is out there in the Winter, Ann Pachet, one of my favorite authors is a graduate.

    As always love the posts! Happy weekend.xoxoxo

    1. Oh haha! Don’t recall any questions. I think that your lovely family home by the beach is perfect! And, I was thinking too, that cold-winter beach homes are not the same as year-round hot-to-mild beach homes. I love the idea of heavier upholstered fabrics for winter and white cotton slipcovers for summer. Of course, one doesn’t have to live by the ocean to do that.

      I couldn’t believe how many art galleries there are in Ptown! And that’s cool about the writing community! Thanks for sharing that info. xoxo

  35. Well many of us from the northeast think of beach houses in the historical context. The beautiful homes you have posted remind me of the sea captains’ houses. The wealthy captains decorated their homes in an eclectic and stylish fashion, with nothing beachy to be found. Just beautiful and elegant furnishings from around the world in which was befitting their status as wealthy seamen.
    Personally I would take beachy, not beachy or even a clam shack if I could have a beach house.

    1. One of my favorite towns that I’ve visited numerous times is Stonington, CT. And I have a friend that told me recently it’s her favorite place too. That and neighboring Mystic, CT are filled with the old sea captains homes.

  36. Hi Laurel, when we were looking for a beach house,the ones that were decorated like ‘normal’ homes didn’t seem relaxing and beachy. For us, the whole point of being at the beach is to enjoy something different from our city home. Personally I like some coastal accessories: seascapes, a few tasteful seashell type accents, light non-colors or watery colors like blues and greens. When I’m at the beach I want to feel like I’m at the beach! Minus the whole flip-flop-margaritaville vibe hahahah

  37. well, yes I can see past non-beachy colours for a coastal home. That is not the worse crime ,compared, in my opinion, to those detestable gift shop sea horse, fish, mermaids, anchors that sign post one is living in a sea-side home even if one has just fallen from space. Also, happy to see no horrible signs such as gone fishin’, this way to the beach etc. ( the coastal equivalents to pretend French signage & a plethora of hearts hanging from every cupboard handle )

    I can do coastal colours away from the coast too.

    By the way, I was just looking at your handsome son, Laurel, thinking ‘if I was 20 years younger’ (allowing for some/a lot of poetic license ) ..when I read your calm down caption… you know your followers so well, it seems…

    spoil sport !

  38. I like the use of your word “handsome” to describe the decoratoring in these homes…lol…Lovely on the outside, but for me…much too heavy on everything inside. Do you suppose it was older people that were selling these? Not my tastes at all, but alas, everyone’s tastes are different, right? Here is sort of a reverse question for you. Is it ok to decorate your home in a coastal type vibe (maybe a tad more refined) if you are nowhere near the beach? I’m very drawn to the coastal looks and have this brand spanking new house and feel it is a bit on the sterile side. I realize I can do whatever I want in my own house, but would a home look silly with a coastal look when I’m nowhere near the water? Is this a silly question?

    1. Hi Colleen,

      Not silly at all! I think the home in Something’s Gotta Give could go anywhere. And no, the people selling those homes aren’t necessarily older, but they are definitely well-off! :]

  39. This is about a comment/suggestion on Cyndi’s house that I don’t understand. Someone noted the shadows cast by the trees and the lamps and the negative, ominous impression those gave. He suggested getting rid of the shadows/brightening, but not getting rid of the lamps. The person was a stage/lighting designer and I understand his point, but I don’t understand the mechanics implied. On a second look, I noticed the shadows cast by the trees and saw how they could be used in film or theatre, but frankly in the Deep South, shade is welcome. Plus the trees had been limbed up. I blame the photograph. But still curious about the way lamplight can be “brightened.”

    1. Hi Gaye,

      I didn’t completely understand the comment, either. I just feel that most of the photos could show the house better, both interior and exterior. And, it’s not a matter of editing.

      1. I think l understood his comment . I think if you look at the shadows cast by the trees in the photo, it has an unwelcoming and ominous feel. Think about how in a movie, right before something bad happens, the filmmaker will film a black raven to change the feel of what’s going to happenn . In the photo the shadows from the trees are spooky looking, indicating that what is going to happen in that home is not good.

  40. Not only do I feel like I’ve spent days at Cape Cod with all its glorious hydrangeas and breeziness, but in the photograph of the shower of your crow’s nest room, I discovered where to put a shower in my second-floor extra guest room! That’s a lot to get from a single blog! And I have alwaysalwaysalways wanted to spend the summer either at Fallingwater or that house where Diane Keaton supposedly wrote in “Something’s Got to Give.

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