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How Karen Wolf Turned Her Shore House into a Luxury Retreat

Coastal inspired bedroom with large chandelier.

Design: Karen Wolf; Photo: Raquel Langworthy

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“I always dreamed of owning a beach house, and I was fortunate enough to design and build a special escape where three generations of my family are able to create memories,” interior designer Karen Wolf says of her New Jersey shore house. “I wanted the primary bedroom to embody a getaway feeling—part California cottage, part boutique beach resort.”

Meet the Expert

Interior designer Karen Wolf is the owner of Karen Wolf Interiors in Short Hills, New Jersey. She believes every project deserves a little sparkle along with layers of color, pattern, and texture. 


Before shot of empty bedroom.

Courtesy of Karen Wolf

“At 16’ by 12’, this room was small-ish for a primary bedroom, so I wasn’t able to fit in the additional seating I’d hoped for—including a reading corner—if I wanted to accommodate a king-sized bed and dresser," Wolf says.


Neutral yet luxurious coastal bedroom.

Design: Karen Wolf; Photo: Raquel Langworthy

“The hotel-style primary bedroom is one of my favorite rooms in the house, thanks to its livable yet luxurious feel," Wolf says. "I layered warm tones and natural elements for a sophisticated yet casual beach vibe, including a cream-colored beaded chandelier, smoky textural blue and cream pillows, and a neutral-colored four-poster bed. A space-saving white barn door slides open to reveal the primary bath.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Modern shades of white, cream, tan, and soft blues give the space an airy and light feel. 
  • Bed: A farmhouse-style canopy bed is made of oak and rubberwood veneers and works with the room’s high ceilings. 
  • Bedding: An ivory and taupe embroidered coverlet, made of 100% cotton chenille, keeps things cool in the summer.
  • Wallpaper: The handwoven grasscloth wallpaper creates a subtle backdrop while adding texture to the space.  
  • Ceiling pendant: Hundreds of tiny cream wood beads make up this chandelier, adding to the space’s organic and beachy feel. 
  • Floors: The French-style, natural-colored engineered oak floors are hand-scraped and wax-finished for a beachy look. 
  • Nightstands: The three drawers on these modern linen-colored nightstands have a soft close feature along with antique bronze ring pulls. 
  • Curtains: Room-darkening motorized shades are covered with linen-colored curtain panels that are suspended on squared beechwood rods. 
  • Floor lamp: The body of this 8’ floor lamp is made of natural wood and is paired with a linen shade to add extra light to the space.  
  • Table lamps: Two matching bulb-shaped ceramic lamps have a mix of grey and white striping and are covered in linen shades.
  • Mirror: Handcrafted of aluminum and steel, the sculpted leaves have the look of aged cast iron leaves.  
  • Wall art: A custom-designed canvas depicts where the ocean meets the sand, setting a peaceful yet sophisticated tone for the room. 
  • Barn door: The wood boards of the barn door are displayed in a chevron pattern and are paired with stainless steel hardware.    
  • Bench: A nautical-inspired mahogany bench is made of woven rope and displays decorative pillows.
  • Dresser: The grey-topped six-drawer dresser has a modern triangular design on the drawer fronts. 
  • Statue: The figurine reflects a quiet, zen moment and doubles as a jewelry holder.

Shop the Look:

Barn door that opens to bedroom bathroom.

Design: Karen Wolf; Photo: Raquel Langworthy

Bee & Willow™ Home Queen Wood Canopy Bed in Natural
Bee & Willow Home Queen Wood Canopy Bed in Natural $850.00 $680.00

“I love this neutral-colored canopy bed because it creates a focal point without overpowering the room," Wolf says.

Kuima Canvas wall covering.
Mark Alexander Kuima Canvas Available on Request

“Many grasscloth wallpapers have a yellow or greenish undertone thanks to their natural fibers, but this one has a chalky, white texture that reminds me of sand,” Wolf says.

Leaf Petals Mirror
Ballard Designs Leaf Petals Mirror $439.00

“This timeless mirror gives off a pop of soft, grayish-blue color that looks great on a wall or over a mantel,” Wolf explains.