Beach House Before & After: My Work of Heart

Hello friends! I hope your holiday weekend was everything you hoped it to be. After a very successful school year for both my babies, we headed down to the beach to celebrate Jackie boy’s 9th birthday. I had picked out a few two piece swimsuits to take, so we were off! While there, I began styling and photographing a sweet little family abode by the sea. It was a total gut job that I’ve been working on since last October and it is a thrill to finally be sharing my heart work with you!

My birthday boy. He’s definitely giving Daddy a run for his money as the No. 1 guy in my life.

Just to give you a little background, the homeowners have been vacationing in this special part of the country for years and it quickly became one of their favorite places on earth. Throughout the real estate bubble they watched friends, neighbors, acquaintances acquire fix and flip properties, taking huge profits and driving up prices to unrealistic heights as the couple’s dream of owning their own place drifted further and further away. If you have always been tempted to invest in a fix and flip property, you might find some of the information available on real estate websites such as useful. Above all, doing your research is fundamental. Maybe someday when we retire, the homeowners imagined.

Then one cold January day the Mrs. decided to do her random check in on real estate listings in the area and fell upon a one bedroom in her price range. Hmmm, all the other listings in that range were one room studios. She looked a little further and not only was there one bedroom, there were bunks tucked away in the hall (screaming for drapes like the old train cars). This could get interesting. It did. A view of the ocean?! Another look at Google earth and the unit was a baseball toss away from the surf. Nothing but sand, grass and dunes separating them from the SEA. SOLD! The only problem being it was a short sale, which are anything but, and the family waited eight long months to take ownership. All the while the Mrs. cautiously designing the space in her mind over and over again because friends it was a dump.

They could not believe it had an actual ocean view when properties nearby are selling for hundreds of thousands blocks away from any sight of the coast line.

Here is a little taste of what it use to look like…carpet, popcorn ceilings and horrendous lighting…

And now… you know how I love a dramatic entrance. Sets the tone for what awaits inside.

Rough hewn cedar plank ceilings, whitewashed, give the space the most lovely scent. The smell and the sound of the ocean are the homeowner’s favorite things. Peacock Paver flooring, a favorite of mine, had to be the choice for this space.

Lee dining chairs were covered in outdoor fabric and casters added to the legs so they can move around freely. These chairs have a nice deep seat so you can curl up with a cup of coffee or glass of wine too.

A spot on the sofa offers a slice of the ocean outside. Three inch plantation shutters to be installed soon. In fact, I have been looking at a few different Plantation Shutter options online and cannot wait to see the windows slowly starting to come together. I love shutters as they look stylish and create a real sense of privacy. How exciting!

A drywall frame was added to give the refrigerator a built-in finish, adding visual weight to anchor the exposed shelves and give them a clean ending point.

Bunks before…

After…recessed niches and reading lights were added to each. I’d like to trick out the interior in nautical map wallpaper or some sort of stencil so when you pull back the drapes – BAM – a surprise inside. West Elm bedding and Ikea linen drapes. Closing the drapes are their children’s favorite part.

Bathroom before…

After…horizontal 1 x 2 trim moulding added and a glass shower screen instead of a curtain were installed to keep the space open and crisp. After a friend recommended Anzzi glass shower doors, we just knew we had to have glass rather than a curtain. It looks much nicer and in my opinion, is much more sanitary and easier to clean. Benjamin Moore’s Kingsport Gray on the walls. I fell in love with the color while shopping at Birmingham’s Table Matters. Another great B’ham tradition.

Lowe’s $12.99 24-inch floating shelves will have to do for now. Future plans for a custom designed wall unit using reclaimed wood coming soon. If only I could make up my mind on my sketches.

Hallway before…


Instead of replacing all the door frames, I designed a favorite x motif and had it added to all the doors, again using the same 1 x 2 trim moulding. Stackable washer and dryer tucked away inside.

Bedroom before…

After…a giant barn door was constructed from a Pinterest photo allowing complete and open access to the closet instead of the sliding doors that tend to fall of track. Absolutely love the sound the barn door makes when it slides down the track. The door is covered in Benjamin Moore’s Texas Leather.

The closet glass doors were repurposed on either side of the bedroom window to visually add depth and light. What’s not pictured is the flat screen hanging above the dresser. The Mrs. promised her husband if you pull this off big daddy, you’ll finally get that television you’ve always wanted in the bedroom. Marriage: one big sweet crazy compromise.

Due to space constraints between the bed and the closet, I designed a custom floating shelf. I am looking forward to the ghost chair that will sit here soon along with some additional lighting so the Mrs. has a place to sit and primp. Sherwin Williams Ethereal Mood covers the shelf.

An old chippy shelf, a flea market find, was purchased with the daydream of “this would be great for a beach house someday” never thinking it would actually transpire. All the while hearing the husband curse about purchasing furniture for a home that doesn’t exist.

When arriving for the initial site inspection the homeowner noticed the unit was no. 16, the same day as her wedding anniversary, a very good sign!

The entire eight months the family waited, the Mrs. reminded herself of this childhood quote and said often, “anything can happen child, anything can be”. It conveniently covers up an unsightly electrical box. Notice the geometric glare the Moravian lights cast up and down the hall. Love that.

“When you feel your life ain’t worth living you’ve got to stand up and take a look around you then look way up to the sky. And when your deepest thoughts are broken, keep on dreaming boy, cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die.”
– Blind Melon, Change

The best part of this project and story is the family loves sharing their sweet abode by the sea with others. Yes, you too can wake up to the sound of the ocean and sip your morning coffee here…

Or attempt cartwheels in the town square.

Share in all His bounty with wonderful friends. Nothing screams beach like a low country boil.

Ride bikes with your chickens to get ice cream…

And stare at sunsets and silhouettes like this, a tear in your eye, glass of champagne in hand, and be reminded of just how beautiful life is.

Sound like a plan? Make it your own by reserving your vacation HERE at “beside the seaside”. And don’t forget to read my other posts HERE and HERE about the beautiful area in which their new home sits. I’ll be back to share ALL THE DESIGN DETAILS with you in a later post. Any pressing questions that simply cannot wait, you know where to find me. xx

Thanks for sharing in my work of heart!

Big hug – big squeeze,


  1. Jen!!!!! Fantastic! You have worked your magic and prooved yourself to be a very talented designer indeed!! Gorgeous!!

  2. Jen, this transformation is just gorgeous. I wish I was there right now!!!

    your neighbor, Teri S.

  3. Love what you did with this place. We had a similar story and have just finished giving it new life. I have to ask. – where did you get the Shel Silverstain wall art? We have always loved that quote/poem and would love to locate it. Thx

  4. The Moravian lights are awesome in your hall space! Can you share the source? Also were there any issues with putting the ceiling planking up ie possibility of flooding from condo above etc? Just bought a Ft Myers Beach condo with fairly new, good quality oak cabinets but would like to distress them to look like whitewashed pecky cypress. Don’t have a clue how but will research!

    1. Its funny you mention the flooding because the folks that bought our unit above us (we owned two), remodeled and there was some flooding and it messed up my beautiful white washed wood :-(((( just a little bit in the kitchen area. I just found it ironic we sell the space we use to own and BAM it floods on us LOL. I have the source for the stars I believe in that post. I really need to remember because folks ask me that a lot, my sister just did last week. I will dig it up for you if you cannot find linked in the post. LOVE FORT MYERS! My brother and family live there! Congratulations and good luck with the cabinets!!!!

    1. Thank you! They are Peacock Pavers, a wonderful company to work with, out of Montgomery, Alabama. Mine are the buff color.

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