This Waterfront Home Marries Traditional Style With Nautical Touches in the Most Sophisticated Way

Liz Mearns home tour - dining room

Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

When buying a beach house, there's a tendency to go overboard (no pun intended) on the coastal aesthetic, investing in one too many seashell tchotchkes and refusing to consider any other color besides navy blue and seafoam green. Liz Mearns, an interior designer and founder of Liz Mearns Imagine Design, has another way. When she designed this Saint Michaels, Maryland home, she focused on a traditional neutral aesthetic with blues, white and leather accents for a coastal home that still felt cozy.

"We were very careful to make the coastal and nautical influences sophisticated and not too kitschy," Mearns tells MyDomaine. "I think when you’re on the water in Saint Michaels, you run the risk of pulling out all your seashore props."

This four bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom home was built in 1984 and covers 2,100 square feet of waterfront property.

"The view and how it informed the overall design, of course, were paramount," Mearns explains. "The palette pulled whites and blues from the water and sky, and there was a tendency to select neutral, textural furnishings for visual interest without detracting from the waterfront scenery."

The palette pulled whites and blues from the water and sky, and there was a tendency to select neutral, textural furnishings for visual interest without detracting from the waterfront scenery.

Keep scrolling to see how Mearns created a subtle coastal oasis.

Liz Mearns home tour - entryway with gold console and round mirror
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

The entryway makes use of several trends, including an oversized mirror and a thin console table. Though the home isn't massive, Mearns loved the size.

"It is not very big, but we created several different seating areas, so people can come together or find their own little space or respite if they would like," Mearns says.

Liz Mearns home tour - living room with big windows
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

The living room boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, providing the homeowners with unobstructed views of the waterfront.

"The architecture of the home is not overwhelming," Mearns explains. "The real “wow” of the home is the gorgeous water view and ideal location for this social couple. The challenge was to create a feeling of luxury with furnishing, lighting and accessories."

Liz Mearns home tour - living and dining area
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

The combined living and dining area are an expert class in open concept decorating while the large mirror gives the illusion of a bigger room. Mearns chose nautical boat prints for this space (her greatest finds, she says).

Liz Mearns home tour - dining table with chairs
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

Though the house has touches of nautical life (like this seashell lighting fixture), overall Mearns kept the coastal touches elevated.

"We were very careful to make the coastal and nautical influences sophisticated and not too kitschy," Mearns says. "I think when you’re on the water in Saint Michaels, you run the risk of pulling out all your seashore props."

We were very careful to make the coastal and nautical influences sophisticated and not too kitschy. I think when you’re on the water in Saint Michaels, you run the risk of pulling out all your seashore props.

Liz Mearns home tour - master bedroom
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

The master bedroom boasts the same nautical palette with a hint of pink and metallic accents.

"Accent pillows and throws incorporate some of the location’s gray blues and pale sand tones," Mearns explains. "There are also small touches of coral and fuchsia in certain spaces, evoking spectacular sunsets."

Liz Mearns home tour - dining room
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

The dining room and kitchen area boast moody dark walls and rustic furniture, making it a cozy spot to entertain.

"The home strikes the perfect balance between entertaining and relaxing," Mearns says. "They might have drinks at the island, spend time with friends in the sunroom (which has lots of seating options), or curl up with a book by the fireplace."

Liz Mearns home tour - rustic kitchen with island and stools
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

Though the home was built 36 years ago, Mearns and her team kept the renovations to a minimum.

"We were on a fairly tight renovation budget, so we had to get creative," Mearns explains. "The kitchen lost a large space-consuming island in favor of a smaller, distressed-wood one with more character, pretty minimum changes, but it seemed like we did more than we did because of the bold move to go with a really dark blue on the walls. Then we added texture and warmth with wood table, caned chairs and nautical rope chandelier."

Liz Mearns home tour - master bedroom
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

Upstairs, this bedroom evokes traditional style with a tufted headboard, rustic wooden bench, and matching nightstands.

Liz Mearns home tour - seating area with floral chairs
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

Two statement accent chairs nestle perfectly by the back deck, a great place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or a summer read.

Liz Mearns home tour - seating area
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

Though the color palette includes plenty of white and sandy tones, Mearns designed smartly for a couple who loves to entertain.

"Even though we did a lot of white and cream upholstery, all the fabrics we selected are high-performance fabrics that will wear well," Mearns says. "We didn’t want anything fussy in textiles, nor have anyone worry about spills, wet bathing suits, or the general wear of heavy entertaining."

Liz Mearns home tour - deck with seating area
Design: Liz Mearns Imagine Design, Photo and Styling: Stylish Productions, Photographer: Robert Radifera, Prop Stylist: Charlotte Safavi

Throughout this entire process, Mearns kept her design mantra in mind: keep it cohesive.

"There are lots of good product options out there, but don’t get too hung up on things that you love," Mearns advises. "Sometimes you can like a certain fabric or light fixture, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will fit in with the overall aesthetic. Keep the look interesting but cohesive. In the end, the best homes are ones that harmonize."

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