With the right guidance, you can custom build a luxury beach house that works for your family and withstands the environmental stressors of oceanfront property.
At White Sands, we’re not “design-focused” or “design-conscious.” We’re all about design. We’re experts in this space. We’re able to hear what you need and translate that into a home that works for every member of your family.
Custom Building? First Things First
Find the right design/build firm.
Most of our clients come to us as referrals from former clients, so they have some idea of the scope and tone of what we do.
We start with an intake call, to make sure the project is within that scope. Then we do a meet and greet on the job site, to see if there’s good chemistry. The relationship between the client and the designer may last for over a year. If the chemistry’s off, we decline the project and save everyone time and frustration.
If someone doesn’t feel the chemistry on the client end or the designer end, it’s probably not the right fit.
Collect images of other luxury beach houses.
Save pictures of particular bedrooms and fireplaces, of highly efficient kitchens, of fabulous wallpaper or lighting fixtures or rugs. It’s ok if you don’t know why you like a particular style, material, or layout. We can help you figure out the why.
During your first follow-up meeting, we may prompt you with images that we’ve collected. We’re not looking for positive reactions as much as any reaction. We’re trying to establish what kinds of lines and spaces make you feel comfortable and inspired and what makes you feel annoyed or frustrated.
Hammer out the design first, then build around it.
Interior design is not interior decorating. It’s not an afterthought, or something that happens after an architect has drawn up plans and a builder has executed those plans. For us, it’s the starting point—the key element of a custom build that focuses the entire project.
If you start with design, decision-making becomes deliberate. But if you start building before you’ve figured out the design, you make decisions that are reactions to the job site. We prefer to create the job site that will yield the desired end result.
Factors To Consider When Designing Your Family Beach House
Who will live in the house and what do they need now? What will they need five years from now?
We grow and evolve as families and individuals. Keep that in mind when designing your family home.
Do you have a small child, and do you plan to have more children? If so, perhaps a nursery next to the master bedroom is the way to go. But if you don’t want more children, consider putting space between your child’s room and your own. Remember, children are big for longer than they’re small. (Want more tips about creating kid and pet-friendly luxury homes?)
Have you been fascinated by rock climbing for three months or three years? It’s an important distinction, if you’re thinking of creating a boulder wall in your custom home.
One trick is to design multipurpose rooms that change function with the needs of the household. For example, if you only have occasional guests, a Murphy bed can transform an office or playroom into a guest room.
Which amenities are must-haves and which are want-to-haves in your luxury beach house?
Mudrooms are great for keeping sand confined to one space. A built-in hamper that doubles as a bench offers a perfect place to deal with damp towels and lace up running shoes.
Outdoor showers, indoor and outdoor fire pits, and sheltered outdoor spaces are standard fare at the beach. Do you want a swimming pool? A home theater? A basement gym? A kid’s playroom? A hot tub? Make a list of “must haves” and “nice to haves,” and share it with your designer.
Living in a beach house is different.
You’ll need to pay attention to the materials that you use, both on the inside and the outside of the house. Certain materials are more forgiving of the sun, sand, and salt than others.
Think often and early about the layout and orientation of your custom beach home.
As we’ve discussed before, there are pros and cons to both closed and open floor plans. Consider your specific family. Who watches the kids while dinner is being made? Is the same person watching the kids and cooking dinner? In that case, maybe there needs to be a clear line of sight from the kitchen to indoor and outdoor play areas.
Do you want a connection between the different floors of your home, or do you want them to be separate entities? Do you want to be able to retreat from the sounds and activities of one floor by going to another?
Include furniture on your floor plans. Knowing how you want to furnish a room before you build will help your build team better position windows and doors. This way, you can embrace or avoid natural light, avoid doors opening onto furniture, and ensure that electrical outlets are installed where they’re useful.
Consider natural light.
Northern sunlight is a bit cool in color and more steady throughout the day, which makes it a good option for a home art gallery. We can offset this coolness through an interior palette, as needed.
Southern light is brighter, and may need to be toned down with a cooler palette. East-facing rooms are flooded with morning sunlight, while west-facing rooms get more light in the afternoon.
Knowing what time of day you will be using which rooms will help your design team place rooms in the house, as well as furniture, window treatments, and light fixtures in those rooms.
Design for the flow of people and activities.
Which rooms should logically be next to each other? Our new Beach House Journal has a bubble diagram exercise that can help you think this through.
You can never have too much chocolate…or storage.
One of the best things about custom designing your family beach house is that you can make use of every inch of space. Hollow window seats, cabinets and shelves, built-in hampers that double as extra bathroom surface space—there are so many ways to sneak extra storage into your custom home.
Every beach house needs inviting outdoor space.
Work that view! Top story outdoor living areas with fireplaces, couches, and even kitchens are the new norm in luxury beach living. Outdoor showers and hot tubs are always fun, and lush, climate-appropriate patio landscaping is a must.
Think about your whole family when designing this space. Do the kids need an enclosed place to play? Is there a way to block off the pool from kids and pets? Does a family member love to watch the game while basking in an ocean breeze? How should you place the outdoor TV to avoid glare and keep the space attractive? Do you want swinging chairs, chaise lounges, hammocks, a fountain or water feature?
In the end, your custom family beach house is about creating the perfect space to meet your family’s current and future needs.
If you’re ready to have a conversation about those needs—a conversation that’s highly specific to you and yours—please reach out. We’d love to walk you through the Beach House Journal and get you started on this rewarding journey.
Thanks for reading,
Hawlie Ohe heads White Sands Interiors, and she and her husband are raising two boys along the South Bay coast. Hawlie brings the curiosity that fueled her first career, as a journalist, to her interior design approach: Who are you, who do want to be, and how can this space get you there? Great design makes you feel present and engaged, and Hawlie is here for it. Because she wants to help you be “here” (in this space, in this moment), too.