As the weather warms up and summer vacations are top of mind, many of us dream of escaping to a beach house with a quick walk to the ocean and the laidback décor to match. For some, that's a reality.
Though you may picture over-the-top seashell motifs and a little too much seafoam green when thinking of a beach retreat, Desiree Burns of Boston-based Desiree Burns Interiors, chose a more sophisticated approach when she took a gorgeous 1921 beach cottage in Newport, Rhode Island and transformed it into a bright and airy escape, fit for modern coastal living.
"The client had great taste," Burns tells MyDomaine. "She knew she wanted the space to feel bright and airy but still cozy and livable. To achieve this, I incorporated organic materials throughout the living room, such as the cement coffee table, plastered side table, and jute rug. Textured pieces really help add that 'lived-in' element. Bright whites are great but you have to be careful that they don’t feel too stark in main living areas."
Sticking with a classic New England color palette of white and blue, Burns created a gorgeous yet livable space in the five bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home.
"The client wanted a bright and airy space," Burns explains. "She didn’t shy away from white upholstery—a white sectional served as the foundation for the living room design. We wanted to carry some coastal elements throughout. We did this by incorporating organic materials and serene artwork reflective of a relaxed, coastal lifestyle."
We wanted to carry some coastal elements throughout. We did this by incorporating organic materials and serene artwork reflective of a relaxed, coastal lifestyle.
Step inside this modern beach retreat to learn how Burns created a sophisticated yet laidback vibe for the space.
Guests are greeted immediately with a warm and welcoming entryway, featuring rattan coat hooks and a gorgeous palm frond-patterned wall covering.
"In the entryway, all I have to say is that wallpaper!" Burns says. "I love that it’s the first thing you see when you enter. It’s the perfect introduction to the rest of the home."
"The styling for each room is reflective of how the space is used," Burns says. "The arched ladder behind the living room sectional is a perfect example. Not only is it unique and pretty to look at, but it’s perfect for storing throw blankets for cozy movie nights."
The rest of the space boasts another sofa, oversized mirror, and matching woven accent chairs, all in a neutral and calming color scheme.
"The client knew she wanted neutrals to be the core color palette for the master bedroom and living room," Burns explains. "We took the blue hues from the exterior siding and added complementary colors to each room."
When designing this space from a completely blank slate, Burns kept the best design advice she'd ever heard top of mind.
"Trust your gut," Burns says. "There’s been many times where I’ve second guessed my decisions through the design process, but nine times out of ten we always revert back to my original idea."
In the powder room, often thought of as a "jewel box" of a home, Burns let the crane wallpaper dictate the design direction of the space.
"The print is fun and playful, so we had fun with the other design elements in this room too," Burns says. "I picked a gray paint color that we used on the ceiling and door. The vanity sconce and faucet are both a combination of white and brass, and you can’t forget to add greenery! I added a mini vase at the sink with an oversized palm leaf."
For the primary bedroom, the client asked for a "neutral oasis," and Burns delivered, bringing a warm and relaxing mood to the space with variations of white, cream, and sand shades.
"We used a combination of white and ivory as the main colors for this space," Burns says. "The artwork chosen reflects a calm, relaxed vibe that the soft colors achieve. To add interest, we layered textured bedding and throw pillows. The grasscloth nightstand is one of my favorite pieces in the room."
The guest bedroom has a different story. The room, which is painted almost entirely (minus the ceiling) in Benjamin Moore's Normandy, evokes a sense of sophistication.
"There’s light blue siding and cedar shingles on the exterior," Burns explains. "We carried the light blue hues throughout the decor. I thought it was important to also provide contrast to that, so in the guest bedroom we painted all the walls, trim, and doors a beautiful, deep-moody blue color that is to die for."
Burns sourced this gorgeous navy bed with a cane headboard first, then used the color of the walls to really make it pop. With a space this gorgeous, it's only natural that Burns finds inspiration everywhere, including the home itself.
"Decorating the rooms is really inspired by the home itself," Burns explains. "Maybe there’s an architectural detail we want to highlight, or a feeling we want to evoke—which I love using moody paint colors for. The moody blue paint we used in the guest bedroom is one of my favorite blues I’ve ever used."