Cliff House Signature Style
An in home look at Beach House Design.
Cliff House was a blank canvas when we started. Good bones that had been neglected and lacked pride of ownership. I have a background in design and as soon as I walked into this home I could see its potential.
A beach house is always a work in progress. Living this close to the ocean comes with its perks and challenges. One of which is the constant salt and moisture. Finding a quality paint in a neutral tone is key, the whole house was redecorated making it fresh and new.
We brightened it up, added a splash of color and used carefully chosen accent pieces throughout. Art and collectables with an ocean or beach theme can be overwhelming in a space. Instead we have used wall art thoughtfully and paired it with an eclectic mix of comfy stylish furniture. We added interest and detail in each room but allowed space for the eye to rest, minimizing clutter. This strikes a design balance that is both inviting yet calm.
In our frenetic lives lack of quality sleep is the norm. Plush new beds with Luxe linens were a must in our vacation property providing each client with the deep comfort they need for rejuvenating sleep.
Many of the furniture pieces are restored or repurposed, re-upholstered and even reinvented. I love working on projects and spent several months preparing room sets and gathering materials. The result is that each room has an urban sophistication, a blend of qualities which say “come in, sit down and relax you’re at the Beach.”
The Key to Proportion
Vaulted ceilings can make furniture look short and stunted. So it's important to find complimentary pieces to balance the ceiling height without making everyone feel as if they are Alice in Wonderland who just fell through the Rabbit Hole.
The flue on the wood stove takes your eye to the celling but left alone on the cheveroned wall it felt bereft. I found the boat oars at a local antique store and white washed them to blend with the general theme. The scale and heft of the bookcases to the right help to create visual weight, balancing the space. Notice the collectables on the top shelf of the bookcase, the shape of the sail boat reflects the junction of wall and vaulted ceiling, adding just a touch more height.
We included some vintage photographs of lighthouses in black frames to create interest and fine tune the ocean theme.
When we first purchased Cliff House in 2016 it lacked character and was sadly in need of maintenance. It took us one year just to get it looking more balanced. What it needed was some curb appeal, a change of color and the addition of 2 faux windows to create balance on the front of the building.
This bright blue for the garage door and window trim has given the house character. Now, when you arrive the house says "Welcome to the beach"
The Garden Project
I love working in my garden. Being able to create a landscape that is both pleasing to the eye and has multiple places to relax is always my goal.
In the beginning the current garden space was lost under years of neglect, thickets of brambles and dense weeds. Like a sculptor I gradually removed what didn't look like it should live in my garden.
Only one problem ... what do I do with all the cut foliage, trees and trimmings that I don't want?
Answer: Make a Hugelkultur.
Hugelkultur is a German word that means a cultivated mound. It's a horticultural technique where in a mound is constructed from compostable plant materials and decaying wood then planted out as a raised bed.
This was the perfect solution as the garden area was flat and lacked depth, got hot and dry in the summer and had insufficient drainage in the winter. The raised beds that I've made using the Hugelkultur technique have not only made good use of the trimmings but have provided rich planting beds for an assortment of colorful plants. They also have the added benefit of keeping roots moist in summer but provide good drainage after a winter storm.
The queen, twin and family bathroom were screaming early 80's and reflected function more than elegance. Drab beige tile and a medicine cabinets positioned way too close to an oversized vanity mirrors made the rooms feel cluttered and joy less.
Eventually the bathroom tile will be replaced, but for now I needed something that would give the bathrooms personality and visual interest.
Tile decals can make an immediate difference and after successfully applying them in the kitchen I decided to try again. The Internet is awash with decals, navigating your way through them and finding something that's not only pleasing but will actually stick and remain stuck on your tile is a chore. My final choice was this Moroccan inspired pattern which complements the beach theme in the main Queen bedroom and a more floral pattern with grey tones for the Family Bathroom. In the Twin Bathroom I decided to add some Faux Ship lap and wash it with white paint to brighten up one wall.
In all the bathrooms I removed the medicine cabinet, lined the wall niche with wood then added some simple framing and a few coats of paint. Changed out the mirror for something more compact and added a few crafty finds from local stores. The result in all spaces is a stylish and practical update that adds a splash of color and whimsy.
What's in your Beach-bag?
Our Beach at Newport was just added to the ultimate summer list of the "Best Beaches in America" in Coastal Living Magazine summer 2020
"This glorious beach surrounded by sea cliffs and facing the bracing Pacific Ocean lures beachcombers and tide-pool explorers, surfers and fat tire bikers, crabbers and clam-diggers."
The key word here is "Bracing". I love Newport but it's not Florida or Hawaii so here are a few items that you might want to add to your beach bag when you come to visit.
- An old pair of Athletic shoes that you don't care about but still have some wear in them. The ocean is cool here, the North Pacific drift splits at the Canadian border sending warm currents North and cooler currents south.
- A hat with a brim that fits firmly on your head. It's bright and breezy on the coast.
- Sunglasses. Seems obvious, but the glare from the sun as it reflects off the ocean can be intense.
- Sunscreen. The best kept secret of the Pacific Northwest is that it is very sunny in the summer. Don't let the cooler temperatures fool you. The sun can still make you look like you have endured a close encounter of the third kind.
- Water. The breeze, the salt from the ocean and the sun all act as dehydrators. So pack a bottle of water for you and if you have pets with you take a bowl and some water for them.
- Binoculars. You are welcome to use the binoculars supplied at Cliff House, bring your own if you prefer. Whales can be seen from the beach as well as pelicans, bald eagles, ospreys and seals to name a few.
English Tradition comes to Newport For the Holidays.
The holidays are my favorite time of year. I indulge every family tradition, cook all our favorite foods and watch all the old time holiday movies. The Holidays make me feel like a kid again and the thought of enjoying the beach and celebrations with family and friends seems the best of both worlds.
In England my family always gathered in great family reunions. Kids, dogs, adults, friends came together in a giant melee of food, wine and merriment. At the center of all this was the food. Lots of it and all traditional, here are a few of my favorites.
Mince Meat Pies
Nothing meaty about these little darlings. They are filled with dried fruit in a jammy sauce, spiced with cloves, nutmeg and all spice then wrapped in light fluffy pastry. Hot or cold they are a delight of frosty nights, served with a warm Brandy or Cider.
English Christmas dinner is not complete without this fruit desert that is steamed for hours. Flavors of brandy and spices infuse the batter. The longer the pudding steams, the darker the pudding gets, the better we like it. As we bring it to the table we pour brandy over it and set it alight for a flaming after dinner treat.