Click here to sign up for our newsletter and get the best of cottage style directly in your inbox!
Design Ideas
House Tour: A Romantic Beach Bungalow
A couple create their own happily-ever-after while redoing the 1920s beach bungalow of their dreams.
Dream homes can be hard to come by—or they are simply destined to be and will find their way to you. Such wondrous kismet worked for Susie Holt and her husband, Mark. Every day on their way to work, they would drive a route along the Gulf of Mexico on a small barrier island called... Keep Scrolling
Written by Autumn Krause
Photography by Seamus Payne
Styling by Susie Holt

Dream homes can be hard to come by—or they are simply destined to be and will find their way to you. Such wondrous kismet worked for Susie Holt and her husband, Mark. Every day on their way to work, they would drive a route along the Gulf of Mexico on a small barrier island called Casey Key. One day they saw a man putting out a ‘For Sale’ sign in front of a 1,100-square-foot 1920s beach bungalow. The couple stopped, chatted with the homeowner, went inside and were pleasantly surprised. “It was bigger than it looked,” Susie recalls. As she surveyed the bungalow floorplan, Susie, who owns a coastal chic decor store called Posh on Palm in nearby Venice, with Mark, knew she could apply her unique brand of home styling magic to the place. Struck by the bungalow’s possibilities, Susie says, “we made a deal with the owner and moved in a few months later.”

Casey Key Cottage living room
Durable Design. The living room and dining room are open to each other. Susie distinguishes them by arranging the furniture in conversation-friendly groupings. Slipcovered furniture and couches were chosen for their “no-frills” aesthetic and pair wonderfully with beach life. They are easy to clean and durable and were made by the couple’s store.
Casey Key Cottage dining room
Windows take up the entire back wall of the cottage allowing for plenty of light and prime views of the ocean just steps away.

“We wanted a pure white palette so we started off by painting all the walls white. I knew I would bring in inspiration from the water, so all our accents would be in aqua. Also, I wanted everything to be beach easy, with no fuss.”

Dining by the Sea

Mark and Susie worked side by side to transform the beach bungalow into the dreamy place that it is today, the place where they look back on their shared memories together and create new ones. Their first move to make the cottage their own? “We wanted a pure white palette so we started off by painting all the walls white,” Susie says. “I knew I would bring in inspiration from the water, so all our accents would be in aqua. Also, I wanted everything to be beach easy, with no fuss.”

Dining room with an open floorplan
The dining room helps to delineate the small open floor plan. The hefty size of the table helps create a room within a room.

“Even though the kitchen is small, it is part of what the cottage is: cozy and simplistic in an artful way.”

Since the couple love to entertain, the dining and living rooms were of the utmost importance. The dining room was spacious, so a sizeable table was essential for optimum hosting. Mark built an 8-foot farm-style table with legs from an old porch post, and Susie paired a 7-foot bench with it. When guests visit, they sit beneath a French chandelier and soak up the gorgeous ocean view.

Beach-inspired patio
Beach Picnic. A hula-inspired umbrella and exposed wooden chairs give this spot a bit of island flair and make it a great place to relax and unwind in the sun.

Afterwards, they often enjoy a glass of wine in the living room, which adjoins the dining room. There they can view the water while enjoying Susie’s effortless, layered design aesthetic. Feminine touches like petite chandeliers contrast with chippy elements, like an old white coffee table. Beach-inspired accents, epitomized by old bottles and aqua glass, evoke a sense of sea and sand.

Compact kitchen with storage and display space
Small But Wonderful. The compact kitchen is creatively outfitted with cabinetry for storage and display space.

Cozy Cooking

The kitchen is an intersection of minimalism, style and function. “Even though the kitchen is small, it is part of what the cottage is: cozy and simplistic in an artful way,” Susie says. “It fits our life perfectly. Nothing makes me happier than looking out to the water as I prepare our meals.” Susie kept an original built-in cabinet, deeming it the ideal home for her collection of dishware. Its cutout doors showcase her dishes, while giving dimension to the room. The kitchen cabinets allow for storage and style: you can see the contents of each, allowing the dishware to act as décor.

Open shelves for displaying collectibles
Open shelves give Susie spaces to create pretty vignettes adding more style to the small space.

Kitchen essentials like wooden cutting boards give the space an organic, ready-for-cooking feel, encouraging inhabitants to start stirring up a delicious meal. In the pantry, Susie filled the shelves with seabird mugs painted by her artist friend, Laura Della Porta. Then she and Mark hung a pair of cabinets right outside the kitchen. “They are perfect. They look like they are part of this old 1920s bungalow,” Susie comments. Mark also installed an old screen door which allows for easy—and chic—access to the kitchen.

Master retreat with romantic and luxurious bedding
Soft Surroundings. Susie and Mark’s bedroom is a refined retreat featuring a brass bed covered in romantic and luxurious bedding.
Susie uses delicate starfish to pay homage to the water just outside the bungalow’s windows.
Sea Treasures. Susie uses delicate starfish to pay homage to the water just outside the bungalow’s windows.

Beautiful Bedroom

“The bedroom is a peaceful retreat. It’s exactly how a bedroom should be: tranquil and peaceful,” Susie says. “I picked a pure white palette because it evokes serenity.” The entire space is dedicated to calm and beauty. Like the sounds of ocean waves outside the window, airy curtains, soft blankets and elegant furniture soothe the senses. In keeping with her no-fuss commitment to easy elegance, the furniture is covered in slipcovers made at their shop. And there are more cozy places to rest than just the bed. Susie created a nook that begs for you to curl up with a good book and steaming cup of tea. “It’s my sweet corner of relaxation,” Susie says, describing the spot that features an overstuffed chair adorned with plush throw pillows. The bedroom also holds treasured possessions, like intricately framed mirrors that Susie will never part with, and a dresser that’s adorned with Susie’s beach chic, artist-made, one-of-a-kind pieces. For Susie and Mark, it becomes a haven at the end of the day and a bright, airy sendoff each morning.

Beach bungalow entrance with front porch and intricate details
Beach Bungalow. The couple added on a front-porch entrance and decorated it with a Beach sign and bench. The wood door and white screen contrast with each other, letting the screen’s intricate details pop.

As they enjoy life with each other and their cats in their coastal chic beach bungalow, Susie muses, “We feel blessed to wake up every day and hear the waves crashing on the beach.” Life, she says, has been good. “From working side by side with my soulmate in our store to creating this home, it’s the dream of all dreams.”

Looking for coastal decorating ideas with a vintage twist? Click here and here.

you might also enjoy...