Deciding on an Architectural Style For Your Custom Beach House? Discover Today’s Best Beach House Styles With This Helpful Guide

Deciding on an Architectural Style For Your Custom Beach House? Discover Today’s Best Beach House Styles With This Helpful Guide 900 653 White Sands Design/Build

You want to build your California beach house 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 beach house style should you choose for your custom-built luxury home? What says “dreamy beach retreat+ 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 California beach house styles.

You 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 beach 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 beach home to hold its value, but more importantly, we want to build a home that makes you swoon.

Beach House Style Option: Modern Farmhouse

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

Beach House Style Modern Farmhouse

The vibe is cozy and nostalgic. Interior design incorporates 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 give modern farmhouses a coastal flair by incorporating light wood flooring and finishes and plenty of windows and pastel colors.

California Beach House Style Dutch Doors

Overall, modern farmhouses recall 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.

Beach House Style Option: Contemporary Coastal 

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, 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.

California Contemporary Beach House Style

Coastal contemporary design juxtaposes natural and man-made materials, laying reflective against matte surfaces. Contemporary homes 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 California style.

Beach House Style Option: Coastal Traditional

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 beach style has undergone many transformations, which means today’s California coastal Capes only share a few characteristics with those early New England cottages.

California Cape Cod Beach House Style

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.

Traditional white kitchen beach home style

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.

Beach House Style Option: Coastal Plantation

Coastal plantation is not the same as “southern plantation” style, which takes its cues from deep south antebellum homes. Coastal plantation blends 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 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. 

beach house style plantation interior

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.

Beach House Style Option: Mediterranean Revival

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.

Mediterranean Cottage Beach House Style

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. The materials—stucco and tile—stand up to sun, sand and humidity, because they were created for this kind of environment.

grand entryway Mediterranean Beach house style

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.

Moroccan bathroom beach house style

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. 

Consult The California Style Experts

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