Despite the myriad of home tours that come our way, we're consistently flawed at the level of creativity and originality in the design space. Each time we view a new project our retinas dilate in delight and we feel humbled that designers and photographers come to us to share their projects. Case in point, the very talented master of the lens, Chloé Crane Leroux introduced us to this stunner on Long Island Sound in Rowayton, Connecticut, New England and we felt feverish at first sight. Designer, Laura Grabe of Elco Home transformed the five-bedroom, five and a half bathroom home into a contemporary colonial beach house and it's 4800 square feet of pure beauty.
Grabe tells us there were three main things she thought about when decorating this house: children, the beach, and fun. "I have 3 girls and I didn’t want anything too precious or to be off limits," she notes. "They can literally paint on the walls in the basement. I also wanted it to feel like I was on vacation all of the time. I like surrounding myself with things that tell a story, ignite a response and perhaps most importantly, make me laugh." Well, we certainly concur with that sentiment.
Read on to hear how Grabe designed the space and to prepare for heart palpitations. You'll want to pin them all.
Everything in the house is whitewashed and driftwood. Grabe used old windows from a house that was being torn down in Greenwich to make the kitchen cabinets and bar area. The timber is reclaimed hemlock. "I didn’t use hardware because I like the streamlined look," she explains. "I love cooking for people and entertaining, drinking tequila, telling stories." This kitchen looks like it will be filled with many a fun night with friends.
When we asked where she sourced all of the fabulous decorative pieces and furniture, Grabe told us that aside from the lights in the master bath (they're from Ochre), the lights over the dining table (all from BBDW) and the kid's beds (from Urban Outfitters and West Elm) everything else is either built-in, found in Hudson, NY or at a flea market.
Above all, Grabe wanted a comfortable, fun environment to raise her girls and to entertain. "The house is the center of everything, especially in the summer," she explains. "Our door is constantly revolving with an amazing/motley crew cast of characters coming by to swim, eat, drink and hang out." Sounds dreamy.
Grabe describes her design style as "Bohemian eclectic flea market irreverent" and we definitely agree.
Decorating from scratch after a renovation can be challenging but Grabe has some sage words she swears by during the process. "Don’t sweat the small stuff and only buy things you love," she says. "You can spend hours agonizing over silly things like bathroom knobs and you won’t even notice it later on. Just pick something you like and move on."
The color palette is mostly white with pale neutrals and her favorite color, blue, which lends itself well to a house on the beach. Aside from the couch and a few textiles, most of the color in the house is in via Grabe's art.
The biggest challenge for Grabe was finishing the project. "I changed my mind a lot during the process," she confides. "In fact, it’s still not done." But is a home ever really finished?
The master bathroom is one of our personal favorites in the house and it's one of Grabe's too. "It's hard to say (what I love most) because I love everything," she says. "But I love all of the old sinks in the laundry, powder room and playroom), the master bath fixtures from ochre, and the aluminum door knobs from NYC public schools on the mudroom lockers."
Her favorite thing about the space is the sense of ease you feel when you walk in—"Mi casa y su casa."
The master bedroom is a cool mix of vintage treasures and flea market finds. The layered oil paintings of the ocean scenes with the driftwood-like timber bed frame reflect the beachside mood.
The pink walls of this children's bedroom reflect a warm and cozy glow like a great big hug.
There is a real childlike sentiment that feels lived-in and fuss-free. Grabe didn't want anything to appear too precious and this definitely feels like a room you can play in and touch.
There is a lot of pattern in this space but the neutral color palette brings cohesion. The natural Indigo dyed throw pillows add a Bohemian touch to the beachy, colonial style.
Skylights shine natural sunlight down into the mostly white space. We can imagine how relaxing it would be to lay down on the knitted floor cushion or in-built day bed.
This meditation room is the epitome of relaxation and calm.