Beach Houses Series #3




Remember this cover of Veranda, from the summer of 2004?  It was of a beach house in Galveston (yes! that dreaded Galveston again!), designed by Houston great, Babs Watkins.  The beach house generated quite a stir as it was knock-out gorgeous and was furnished with wonderful, painted antiques instead of typical tacky, beachy, white wicker.  The most  alluring aspect of the house was the color aqua used throughout.  Aqua was everywhere,  aqua floors, aqua fabrics, aqua furniture, aqua mirrors.   Without a doubt, owing to how  memorable this beach house was, it started a trend for Veranda:   each summer since this home has graced the cover,   Veranda has featured another aqua beach house.   Obviously they are trying to top Watkins' version, but in my opinion, the torch has not been passed.  Watkins' work remains the best of all the Veranda "Aqua Beach Houses."


Babs has held onto her  crown, because frankly, none of the competition has yet come up with a better version.   It's easy to understand its appeal, the beach house is tasteful, yet fun, serene and calming - yet youthful.  This certainly isn't your mother's beach house.  The young owners, with small children, have built a house to entertain friends and family and to create memories.    It certainly is everything one  would want in a second home, if, of course,  you have  a couple of  cool millions.      Today the house is over five years old and it's up for sale.  In fact, this is the second time it has been listed.  It's held up pretty well, and is remarkably still "photo ready" for a second shoot which is amazing for a beach house considering the wear and tear they take. 


Below are photos both from the Veranda shoot and from the Real Estate shoot.  If you love this house as much as I do,  this is your chance to see much more of it than was published in Veranda.  The real estate pictures are extensive and reveal many surprises about the house.     And, if by chance you are interested in purchasing it, you're too late!   The house is listed as "sale pending." 



The entrance to the house.  Of course the living areas are on the second and third floors.  Here, next to the garage is an antique bench which sets the tone for what is to come inside.  I know, I know, everyone puts rare, antique painted benches outside to face the elements.  Of course they do!


The main living area.    Limestone fireplace with oversized shells instead of logs.  Antique upholstered pieces are covered in pale aqua  linen.  The sofa is beautifully curved and tufted.  The chairs wear a Hinson and Co. oriental styled toile.  Seagrass covers the floor.  The mirror is a trumeau, aqua and cream.


Another view of the living area, with a close up of the Hinson toile covered chairs. Watkins chose to paint the floors and ceiling aqua, rather than the walls, which would have been the typical choice.  Even the paint technique is atypical - the floors which are pine, had the aqua colored paint ragged across them.  The paint is just transparent enough so that the grain of the pine is still visible.   The effect is quite beautiful and the floors are an important design element in the house.


Another view of the living area.  The painted 19th century French butcher's table sits behind the tufted sofa. 


In the corner of the living room, this gorgeous antique tufted chaise with its hanging ball trim holds court.   The trim is just enough of a playful touch to bring the formality of the chaise down a notch.


From the Real Estate Photos:    over five years later, not much has changed here.  The colors in this photo are more true to life than the Veranda scans.  Notice the cream colored plank wood walls and the windows with the aqua trim.   I adore the two child sized wood chairs in front of the fireplace. 


A view towards the other side of the large room.  Here you can see the ceiling, which is painted aqua, and the wood rafters.  On the other side of the tufted sofa is the biggest surprise of the Real Estate photo shoot.


The surprise - a pool table custom made for the house.  I wonder if this was put in after Babs furnished the house or if Babs placed it here herself.   Veranda totally avoided any mention of the pool table.


Here is how Veranda presented the pool table area!  Quite a difference.  The two vases are now on the fireplace mantle and the aqua painted table has been moved elsewhere.  I love the khaki and white striped linen fabric used with all the aqua. 


This bar is across from the pool table.  Typical for Watkins, there is very little art work in the home.  She prefers antique mirrors in lieu of canvases.


One more surprising view - the kitchen on the right is open to the living room.    I took this picture  off the virtual home tour, hence the distortions of the ceiling, etc.


In the entry hall, a painted antique cane bench  has pink and white toile fabric on its cushion.    Antique crystal sconces are juxtaposed against the frivolity of the vintage flamingos.


Beyond the entry hall is a small sitting room with a large painted green bookcase filled with shells and sea animal prints.  The white wicker (yes! white wicker) chaise is covered in the linen stripe.   Note how Waktins handled the self welt on the settee.   And, notice the mirrored sconce - these are placed all around the house for soft, atmospheric light.


Over five years later, not much has changed in the bookshelves! Amazing!


The dining room with the open staircase to its right.   There is also an elevator in the beach house.  Antique table and wicker chairs, with the striped fabric on its cushions.   Across the table is a large wooden console filled with beach mementos. 


And, how it looks today! 


The kitchen opens to the dining and living room with a large wrap around bar.


Inside the kitchen, looking out towards the living area and outside view.


Another big surprise of the Real Estate pictures.  A large, tufted, curved banquette with a huge ottoman that fits into the banquette like a big puzzle piece.   A woven palm tree fabric covers the banquette.  Personally, I understand why this was kept from the Veranda readers.  I find it rather unattractive, myself.   Do you agree or disagree?


One of the charming guest rooms with twin iron beds. 


And today.  Here you can see the wonderful doors that run throughout the house:  paneled and painted gray.


And the ubiquitous beach house bunk room.  These bunks have curtains that provide the sleeper with privacy and turns each bunk its own tiny room.


The master bedroom, another surprise to Veranda readers.  Colorful floral fabric covers almost everything.  A yellow fabric covers the rest.


The master bathroom.  Again, Babs puts her special mirrors everywhere.  Here:  above the bathtub, a rustic trumeau.  The vanity has a concrete top.


Another bathroom, with river rock shower stall and shell mirrors. 


Another guest room with striped and floral fabrics and charming iron beds.


Aqua and cream stripes for this bedroom.


Notice the caliber of antiques Babs places everywhere.  Here, in the above guest room, a gorgeous painted buffet with two fabulous lamps, and a wonderful antique mirror.  All this  for just an upstairs bedroom that is not even the master!


Another guest room which obviously didn't quite get the "Babs touch."  Perhaps its the nanny's room, after all the original owners had five young children. 


An upstairs TV room filled with a cushy slipcovered sofa and matching chaises. 


Close up of the upstairs TV room with yet another painted buffet.   Are there any aqua painted buffets left in the world?


The house and it's property, located on three lots, is  on the  bay side, not the ocean.


On one of the three lots, a pool house was built to service the swimmers.  God forbid they should walk back to the main house for towels and drinks!


View of the negative edge swimming pool overlooking the canal that leads out to the bay.


To view the Houston Real Estate listing of this beach house, go here.  Be sure to take the Virtual Tour.  But hurry up!  Sale is pending and the site will be down soon.  It doesn't specify whether the furniture comes with the house or not - except for the custom pool table - that does stay.     And, if you are impressed with Babs Watkins' use of antiques in this beach house, be sure to visit her online store at 1st Dibs, here.

And for just a little more aqua fun, check out  Veranda's 2005 version of the Aqua Beach House.  "Second Sandbar" is available for vacation rentals in Seaside, Florida.  Decorated by Toby West, the house is reminiscent of Watkins' house, but with West's own wonderful stamp on it.  View it here.

Cote d'Azur and Other Dreamy Beaches



I'm dreaming of the beach and beach houses and apparently a lot of you are too, judging by the response to the Wheat's summer home.  This lead to me wonder:  how do the world's greatest interior designers decorate a summer home?   First up, let's look at Nicholas Haslam.  Though he has turned the reins of his design business over to Paulo Moschino, he took on this job of renovating an empty, decaying beach home on the Cote d'Azur for a couple who are previous clients.  The large cream villa is their main house, the smaller ocher stuccoed home was next door.  After eyeing it as it stood empty for many years, the house came on the market and the clients purchased it to use a guest house for family and visiting friends.  The house came partially furnished along with a stash of Vogue's from previous decades.  Both Haslam and the owner perused the fashion magazines for ideas for the soon to be refurbished guest house.   Tops on their list for the guest house was that its design evoke the charm and elegance of the South of France from days gone by.    I think they succeeded in their goal.   And while you are admiring the house, just imagine the the luxury of not one, but two homes on Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat,France!


 House #1

That's Villa Corrine, the "guest house" to the left of the ivory stone main house. The gardens of the two estates were melded into one after the neighboring property was purchased.



The grounds terrace down to the Mediterranean Sea.


The entry hall with newly laid stone floor.   The stone floors leads into the main area with its parquet wood floor.



Haslam insisted the salon recall the glamour of days past at the South of France.  He installed silvered lace panels on the walls which were in turn coated with mica.  Haslam says the effect is greatest in the morning sun and during the night's candlelight.  A simple linen slip covers a console table and a Manuel Canovas fabric is on the chair.  Be sure notice the red piping on the black and white chair.



This is my favorite room in the house - of course!  The chairs are covered in simple linen slips with dressmaker details.  The wood walls were whitewashed and the tops of the walls were painted to resemble tile, which is such a great idea to incorporate into your own home!!  The clock is just beautiful and is the focal point of the room. Note too the French carved doors.



Haslam used the great interior designer Elsie De Wolfe as inspiration for the trellised wallpapered garden room.  The chandelier is original to the house.


The garden room looks out onto the terrace. 


I love how Haslam used simple fabrics throughout. Here, again, linen slips cover the side tables and bench.  The headboard and curtain fabrics are from Lee Jofa.  The rug is Moroccan.


The vestibule to the bedroom has hand blocked red and white striped wallpaper. Haslam said since the adjoining bedroom is all white, he wanted a pop of color leading into it.


This antique painted French daybed came with the house.   Haslam upholstered it in white matelasse.

House #2


Next up, is a beach house designed by Juan Montoya.   You may remember from last week, Mr. Montoya is not considered an Interior Designer by the state of Florida and the ASID and was sent a cease and desist letter by the state.  Maybe if they could see these pictures, they would change their minds?   This beach house is located on Punta Cana in the Dominica Republic in an enclave filled with VIPs, including Oscar de la Renta who put this beach on the international jet set's map.  The house itself was designed by Montoya who also had all the furniture built to his specifications in the D.R.  The entire structure is made of local stone, wood and stucco.  Furnished in the British Colonial fashion, Montoya used dark woods and white fabrics.  The home is open to the ocean which is visible from each room.  Notice the gorgeous wood framed doors leading into the house, above.


Not only did Montoya design the house and its furnishings, he also designed the landscape.  Here in an interior courtyard, the fountains were built to resemble Spain’s Alhambra.   Notice the x design of the balcony repeats the x design in the shown in the doors.


The living room has six sets of french doors opening to the outside.  All have the x design motif which is repeated throughout the house.  Massive upholstered furniture is slipcovered in white.


The dining room can seat up to 16 people.  Beams were added for atmosphere.


The Anglo-Indian style furniture was all designed by Montoya and built on the island.  There are five guest rooms.  The x crossed windows have shutters with the x motif, again, to control the light.


One of two master suites with a large wraparound terrace that overlooks the ocean and pool area.

House #3


This pavilion styled beach house is located on Mustique, the Caribbean island made famous by Princess Margaret, Mick Jaggar, Tommy Hilfiger and David Bowie - to name a few!  The island has only 80 homes on it and not much else - no bars or restaurants - which insure there is no noisy touristy traffic to bother the upper crust of society who live here, albeit part-time.  The designer of this home is London based, Grant White, who hails from South Africa.  For this home, White paid homage to Oliver Messel, the famous English set designer, turned Mustique interior designer to the stars.  Grant gave the house a strong West Indian colonial feel to it, more "austere and rugged" than "pretty" as some of Messel's designs tended to be.  


The owners insisted White use antiques and quality accessories even though this is a beach house, after all.  The console is 18th century.  The whales are 19th century museum models.  An antique window on the back wall had its glass replaced with mirrors.  The ceilings were all limed to give them a white washed effect.   I love this room and would be quite happy here each summer!

Here is a close up view of the main living area.


In the dining pavilion, White used a 19th century Ceylonese table. The floor is made of native shell.


The main veranda is used day and night and is the most popular room in the house.

The master bedroom has floors of shell.  The walls are concrete, not coral that is typically used on Mustique.  Fabrics are from Jane Churchill.

This guest room has ethereal bed hangings with wooden angel wings!  Notice the seahorse lamp.


These houses are just a small selection of designer beach houses around the world.  While there was no expense spared in all these homes, there are ideas we can take and incorporate into our own, much more modest houses.  All these homes were first published in Architectural Digest, a magazine that some find too extravagant and over-the-top to relate to.  Yet, it is precisely by looking at the best that money can buy, that we can learn from these top designers and emulate them on a smaller scale. 


For instance, the large round, antique window with mirrored glass shown in the house above is something that anyone can copy and claim their own.  And what a wonderful idea that is!  Another good idea is the large vertical prints on each side of the sofa, also, in the above house.  The placement of these prints is an unusual, yet effective focal point that can be copied by anyone for a lot less money.   All it would take is a picture and a trip to Kinkos, followed by framing at an affordable place like Michaels.    I especially liked the painting of the blue and white tiles in the first house.  With a stencil and blue and white paint, a person with a tight budget can have Portuguese tiled walls ala Michael Smith!  Another element present in many of these houses are indoor lanterns.  While antique lanterns from France can be costly, there are many lanterns for the outside that resemble the pricier antiques that can be brought inside to the foyer or family room for the same dramatic effect.   Do you see any elements here that you would like to incorporate into your home?  Is so, please share your ideas!