Your Guide To Beach-Friendly Home Styles

Your Guide To Beach-Friendly Home Styles 900 653 White Sands Design/Build

You know you want to build in the South Bay. You know what zoning regulations your Manhattan Beach lot falls under. You know you want to build a home that’s both design-centered and highly functional.

Now here’s where things get tricky. What style should you choose for your custom-built luxury home? What says “dreamy beach house style + forever home” to you?

Do you want a minimalist farmhouse or a flashy Mediterranean? Are you into contemporary architecture, or are you a traditionalist at heart? Maybe you want a transitional home, that blends several different design styles.

You will have to live with (and in!) this decision for a long time, so do your research. To make things easier, we’ve put together this guide to some of the most popular and timeless coastal styles in South Bay. If you have questions, we’re happy to offer more personal input and even help you choose an architect. We want your home to hold its value, but more importantly, we want to build a home that makes you swoon.

Modern Farmhouse: Clean & Cozy

Modern farmhouses have become increasingly in-demand in recent years. These homes are bright and airy, with roomy kitchens, clean millwork, wide-planked floors, cheerful palettes, wooden siding and simple lines.

The vibe is cozy and nostalgic. Interior design may incorporate shiplap walls, apron sinks, Dutch or barn doors and upcycled vintage fixtures. An old wagon wheel may find new life as a dining chandelier. An antique sideboard may be inlaid with a sink, to become a bathroom counter. Organic materials and rustic touches, such as exposed beams and stone fireplaces, are also common. We like to give modern farmhouses a coastal flair by incorporating light wood flooring and finishes and plenty of windows and pastel colors.

Overall, modern farmhouses are reminiscent of America’s heartland and a simpler time, when meal preparation took up much of the day and everyone gathered around the table. But in the South Bay, farmhouse floor plans are more open and view-friendly than any generations-old farmhouse you would find in the Great Plains.

Contemporary Coastal: Clean Lines & Vertical Living

Contemporary homes are so analogous to the California coast that the style is often referred to as “California contemporary.” Contemporary architecture lends itself to California’s climate. You wouldn’t want floor-to-ceiling windows in a part of the country that regularly dips below freezing. But contemporary design is perfect for merging indoor and outdoor living, which is exactly what you want in Manhattan or Hermosa Beach. When you live by the ocean, you want to invite that view inside every chance you get!

Contemporary homes have open, asymmetrical floor plans, oversized windows, clean lines, bold curves and strong geometry. The interior style is about textures, surfaces, minimalism and occasional statement pieces.

Coastal contemporary design juxtaposes natural and man-made materials, laying reflective against matte surfaces. Contemporary homes may feature metal and mirrors, as well as wood, jute, driftwood and stucco. Sensual fabrics, such as velvet or chenille, help soften any industrial edge, while pops of color accent neutral backgrounds. Mid-century modern furnishings and accessories work well in these spaces. 

If you’re looking for dynamic design that is both conceptual and playful, contemporary may be your perfect fit.

Coastal Traditional: An Updated Take On Cape Cod

Coastal traditional is an updated take on Cape Cod architecture. The first Cape Cod homes were offshoots of English cottage-style, brought to the eastern North American coast by colonialists. Since the 1600s, the style has undergone many transformations, which means today’s California coastal Capes only share a few characteristics with those early New England cottages.

Cape Cod homes are marked by multi-paned, symmetrical windows, wood-shingle or clapboard exteriors and wooden cut-out balconies. Usually the layout begins with a symmetrical center, often with asymmetrical offshoots. In early Cape Cods, those offshoots were built by various generations, as families grew. 

New England Cape Cods have steep roofs and dormer windows, but California Capes usually forgo pitched roofs in favor of pitched door pediments. Zoning regulations make pitched roofs impractical in the South Bay, where most of us want to use every foot of height as efficiently as possible. Plus, pitched roofs are designed to shed snow, which is hardly an issue in sunny so-Cal.

Cape Cod interiors have clean, elegant millwork, a central fireplace, classic furniture and fixtures and an intimate, family-oriented vibe. If you want a beach house style home that exudes charm, consider going traditional.

Coastal Plantation: Island Style

Coastal plantation style is not the same as “southern plantation” style, which takes its cues from deep south antebellum homes. Coastal plantation is a blend of European and American colonial styles, reimagined for the tropics. It’s inspired by homes built a century or two ago, by Europeans running West Indies sugar plantations and Americans running Hawaiian pineapple plantations.

The exteriors of these homes may include elements of creole cottages, such as porches, verandas and colonnettes. Roofs are often flat or only slightly pitched, windows are plentiful and may come with overhangs, and there may be clapboard or board-and-batten siding. 

Interiors are light and breezy. They feature natural fibers, like jute, sisal and grasscloth, and organic materials, such as driftwood. White marble countertops, white cabinets and walls and warm woods also feature prominently. Go with plantation style if you want a house that’s undeniably beachy but also refined.

Mediterranean Revival: A Streamlined Interpretation

Mediterranean Revival Architecture became popular in U.S. coastal areas during the 1920s and 30s. Patterned after Spanish bungalows and Italian villas, these homes have red tile roofs and stucco exteriors, arched windows and wrought iron balconies. Often they incorporate terraces and courtyards, domed ceilings, porticos, wooden doors and colored tiles.

While some of the Mediterranean McMansions built in the 80s and 90s appear clumsy by today’s tastes, streamlined Mediterranean beach homes are still a fantastic and geographically-appropriate choice. One big bonus is that the materials—stucco and tile—stand up to sun, sand and humidity, because they were created for this kind of environment.

Mediterranean Revival is a highly eclectic style, because it encompasses so many distinct cultural influences. The lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea have changed hands many times throughout history, so Mediterranean design reflects North African, Turkish, Italian, Spanish, Greek and Portuguese elements. It even has indigenous South American elements, absorbed by Spanish colonists centuries ago.

Exposed beams, textured walls, raw finishes and a muted palette helps ground the lavishness of Mediterranean style. Want interior arches, hand-painted tiles, mosaics, bright colors and textured walls? Mediterranean is a style you can definitely have fun with. 

If you’d like help identifying your beach house style, we’d love to help. We not only build homes, but we design them from Foundation to Furniture. Send us a note and we can set up a meeting. You can contact us here.

Thanks for reading,

Hawlie Ohe

Hawlie headshot for home air purifiers

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 you to help you be “here” (in this space, in this moment), too.

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