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Design Ideas
House Tour: A Seaside Renovation with an Antique Touch
Newport Beach vacation home receives a top-to-bottom redesign with a vintage coastal vibe.
How do you warm up a space while using a classic coastal palette of cool colors? When designer Brittany Stiles came on to help renovate a vacation cottage on Balboa Island in Newport Beach, California, coastal warmth was the name of the game. “[The homeowners] still wanted it to be coastal, but they wanted to... Keep Scrolling
Written by Victoria Van Vlear
Photography by Courtesy of Sam Frost; Instagram: @samfroststudio


Modern kitchen with vintage furniture
Room Basics. The original kitchen had a peninsula wall, which Brittany took out to open up the space. “The wall we needed to remove wasn’t load bearing, so that was an easy fix,” she says. Because the family wanted to keep the stove and range in the original location, Brittany opted to place the sink on the island. “There’s still enough space there to cook and clean up,” she says.

How do you warm up a space while using a classic coastal palette of cool colors? When designer Brittany Stiles came on to help renovate a vacation cottage on Balboa Island in Newport Beach, California, coastal warmth was the name of the game. “[The homeowners] still wanted it to be coastal, but they wanted to make it cozy,” she says.

Coastal dining room with vintage explorer vibes
Simple and Classy. The classy vintage look of the dining area is a result of layering and texture. On top of the wall paneling is a layer of different types of art—from vintage illustrations Brittany got on eBay to an old American flag.

“Keep things simple in design and form, but then layer them on top of each other,” Brittany says. “Not everything has to be a showstopper.”

Smart Function

The first place to start was with functionality. The family had used the beach-front property for eight years as a secondary vacation home, and the layout just wasn’t working. “The kitchen was shoved back into the back of the house,” Brittany says. “The way the furniture was laid out in relation to the fireplace and TV didn’t make sense. The sofa was really far away from the fireplace.” Because Balboa Island is such a coveted real estate hotspot, the houses are small and don’t have much yard space. “The houses are close to each other, so we had to make the best use of the space we could,” Brittany says.

Without increasing the building’s footprint, Brittany rearranged the kitchen so it was open to the rest of the living area. “The kitchen had a peninsula, and we took that out and put an island where the wall was,” she says. She also sectioned off the dining and living areas so that even within the large room, the two quarters felt separated. “The changes were mostly to make it more functional,” Brittany says. “We had to be really efficient with furniture placement.” Because of the long, narrow shape of the room, it was easy for the furniture to get in the way of traffic flow. But Brittany circumvented this problem by moving the dining table and chairs next to the sofa instead of behind it by the stairs, where they had been originally. “That left a little space in the corner, so we made a reading area.”

neutral colored living space with wall of windows with an ocean view
Beach Bungalow. The Balboa Island home is the perfect location for a coastal-themed beach house. “The downstairs is all one big space that opens out onto the boardwalk and sand,” Brittany says. “It’s their hang-out weekend house.”
Blue cabinetry kitchen with neutral colored vintage accents
Bold in the Kitchen. Navy blue is a bold choice for kitchen cabinets, but here it balances out the white. “We were trying to warm up the space, and we knew we wanted the paneling everywhere, so we didn’t want the cabinets to be white because it would have been too much,” Brittany says. “There was already so much wood flooring throughout the house, so I suggested blue instead of more wood.”

Stylish Form

When it came to the décor, the family wanted to stick with the coastal theme they already had, but warm up the space. “I don’t think they would have thought that blue and white would make the house warm because that’s what it was before,” Brittany says. But it’s all about picking the right shade. “I sail with my dad, and my favorite boats are the ones with antique navy blue,” Brittany says. “It has a little bit of gray in it, so it’s not too in-your-face.” The subtle hue brings in the coastal element but allows other classic pieces of the house to shine, such as the wood paneling they added to the walls and ceiling, as well as the new reclaimed wood floor.

“For me, the blue was important to bring in the coastal element, but it was mostly about the layering of the textures and materials.”

The family also didn’t want the décor to be too trendy. “They wanted a more authentic beach house aesthetic,” Brittany says.

“I tried to keep the more permanent things in the house classic, traditional and simple.”

From the antique prints on the wall to the tongue-and-groove ceilings and traditional tile in the bathrooms, the house is truly an antique beach house dream come true.

Small master bedroom nook with vintage coastal accents
Cohesive Whole. In the master bedroom, a replica vintage Japanese chest stands as a bedside table. Even upstairs, Brittany pulled in the navy-blue-and-white palette, as well as the wood paneling on the walls, to keep the whole house cohesive. “We did a lot of mill work, which gives it personality,” she says.
Blue bathroom wall backsplash with modern tub
Tile Tactics. Even something as simple as tile can be trendy or classic. “We didn’t want to do anything trendy,” Brittany says. “I showed them subway tile that’s rectangular, but they wanted a square, which is more traditional.” The choice fits right in with the vintage black-and-white photographs on the wall.

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