Architects start early to sketch ideas appealing to them – an extraordinary skyscraper, church, or vacation home. They learn in time that architecture, construction, and landscape design are complementary arts. The best architecture and California interior design degree students struggle with the restraints that materials, locations, and clients put on their ideas. But, they mature to an acceptance that, as long as they are the center of the process, the result is their art.


Classic Beach House
A beach-themed house is a great example of what the architect can do with some freedom. Many beach houses replicate some memory. They are salt-boxes, New England Victorian, Florida Cracker, or Bermuda Island in style. These can be comforting pictures, but they are cookie-cutter designs.

Most owners who go this route also furnish the home with traditional wicker furniture, sand and blue colors, seashells and driftwood. Fabrics and window treatments favor the incoming light. And, there’s enough simplicity to make children and beach goers comfortable.

Contemporary Beach House
Location and lot always govern, and the cost and market for beachfront property decides the lot size and shape. A best practice is to consider the open sea and view as part of the lot, so the design is oriented to these benefits rather than the limits of the lot.

In most cases, architects design beach-themed homes as second residences, so they do not need some of the permanent aspects of the primary residence, such extensive closets or storage. They do not need extensive carpeting or workrooms. Most rooms are relaxed-in rather than lived-in. Any entertainment will be beach casual.

The View
Wannabe residents want to put things behind themselves when they enter. Living next to the waves can make that easier.
•    The entrance is likely to face a busy street. Depending on the position of the lot, there is no need to be open to the street. The street side is for parking and utilities. In most cases, the “front” of the house is the side that faces the beach.
•    Visualize a sequence of spaces between the beach proper and the house. The section closest to the beach would include some beach where you could sit and sun in some privacy.
•    A second element might begin an open patio with a fireplace or fire pit as the focal point.
•    The section closest to the house would be a covered patio for conversation and dining. Furnished for the comfort of family and guests in an extension of the indoor living area.
•    Let the view dominate floor-to-ceiling glass walls in folding or sliding doors.
Letting the beach in affects all other design plans. For example, kitchen and laundry facilities have to be out of sight and behind you as you embrace the view.

The Light
As long as the view embraces the beach, it feeds on light. High ceilings, odd shaped dormer windows admit and direct the light. Consider low walls between rooms to capitalize on the light and make it part of the fabric of the decor.

The light does not need care, but the furniture, curtains, and upholstery do. Let whites and pale woods play with the light and survive the sand. Keep bright colors for accents and pave the floors with light stone, tile, or woods. If the sun and salt have not bleached things, make it look as if they have.

The Air
Depending on the placement of the house and regional weather, a beach house can do without air-conditioning. Freed from the necessary duct work, the architect can play with space more, especially on upper floors.

Hang high volume low speed (HVLS) fans which run quietly, decoratively, and effectively. Pushing air down and to the walls. If your lot permits you the privacy, let the air in and through. Let ocean air and temperatures flow through the home – especially on the upper floors.

Embrace the environment as you would in the mountains or on a lake. Maximize the glass and minimize the other construction elements. You do not need a massive McMansion for a summer stay. Treasure the education that will let you design to the air, light, and view.