Fond memories of childhood summers spent frolicking in a coastal Connecticut beach town convinced a California couple to want to recreate similar carefree days on the East Coast for their family. So they searched for the ideal retreat in a historic beach enclave that would accommodate not only them but numerous relatives and friends who would come to enjoy sand and surf for weekends or weeks. They saw potential in a two-story home that dated back to the early 1900s. The problem? Previous owners had loved it to within an inch of its life, and the years had not been kind.

They enlisted the aid of architect John Allee and interior designer Hannah Childs to oversee a complete renovation that retained the home’s quirky, simple seaside architecture; added a clean, serene sense of spaciousness; and subtly tucked in modern amenities.

Houzz at a Glance
Location: A beach town in coastal Connecticut
Size: 8 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, 1 half bath

Houzz Beach House

BEFORE: The original home had weathered siding, a long-abandoned chimney and sagging floor joists. It also lacked a foundation.

Exterior House After

 AFTER: The renovated home’s exterior is clad in Atlantic white cedar shingles to complement the existing red cedar shingle roof. A new bluestone patio and fieldstone walls define the entry. As the home is meant for summer use only, the walls are uninsulated, and the architect resisted the urge to use energy-efficient windows, preferring single-pane glass. “It’s in keeping with the historic cottage look,” says Allee. To build the necessary foundation, the house was lifted off the ground by a house-moving company while the concrete was poured and formed, then the home was lowered and attached.
Windows: Brosco and Green Mountain Window

French Doors

BEFORE: The original home had weathered siding, a long-abandoned chimney and sagging floor joists. It also lacked a foundation.

Living RoomAFTER: The living room sets the tone for the entire home: a pared-down, simple interior design scheme and a beach-inspired palette.
Wall paint throughout: White Dove, Benjamin Moore

Comfortable, family-friendly furnishings anchor the living room.
Sofa: Restoration Hardware; pillow fabric: Quadrille; coffee table: Wisteria; ceiling fans: Minka Aire

In keeping with its use as a summer home, there is no central heat or air. But the living room fireplace takes the chill off an early-summer evening. Elsewhere fans and screen doors provide breezes during occasional hot spells.

Dining RoomBEFORE: The architect designed the white oak dining table to accommodate large family gatherings. An antique dry sink holds table linens.

Dining chairs: Dovetail Furniture; pendant: Serena & Lily; area rug: Madeline Weinrib

Kitchen

The kitchen was expanded by removing several walls and partially extending the space into the adjacent garage. Vintage-style custom cabinetry is in keeping with the home’s heritage. The island is topped with salvaged chestnut wood.
Countertops: concrete, Get Real Surfaces; refrigerator: Sub-Zero; range: Wolf; faucet: Rohl

Open shelving, made from the home’s salvaged chestnut floor joists, keeps things simple.

The kitchen table is command central for the family’s daily activities.
Chairs: Design Within Reach; pendant: Serena & Lily

Guest Bedroom

A guest bedroom has a custom trundle bed. The home’s bedrooms are small on purpose. “The whole idea of the house is to have everyone hanging out together downstairs, outside or at the beach,” says architect Allee.
Bedding: Roberta Roller Rabbit

Farmhouse Sink

A lack of wall cavities throughout the house means exposed electrical conduit and copper piping, which add architectural interest. In the master bathroom, a farmhouse sink and a glass shower enclosure mix the home’s vintage and modern themes.
Faucet: Lefroy Brooks; sconces: Urban Archaeology

Architect: Allee Architecture + Design; interior design: Hannah Childs Interiors; builder: P.J. Cullina Contracting

Text by Nora Burba Trulsson

Photographs by Elizabeth Watsky

Original photos and text on Houzz