Location: Atlantic Beach, Florida
This mid-fifties, concrete-block cottage is located in a walkable, beachside neighborhood of eclectic homes in Northeast Florida. Its 900-square feet pack in lots of character: beamed ceilings, a painted brick fireplace, and plenty of built-in shelving.
The owner has been updating the house since buying it as a fixer-upper nearly 20 years ago, gradually replacing the dusty rose carpet, vinyl floral wallpaper, hollow core doors, and cracked bathroom tiles. Now Spanish tile accommodates sandy feet, bead board walls envelope the kitchen and bathroom, and new doors and windows let in more sunlight.
In its most recent color incarnation, the house is cheered by a paint scheme of oceany blues and greens punctuated by citrusy orange. In the living room and kitchen, the bright colors stand out against a background of bright white walls and ceiling with trim the shade of wet sand. In the two bedrooms, pale blue walls and natural wood ceilings provide calmer spaces.
Throughout the little house antiques and vintage pieces mix with natural elements such as sea shells, seed pods, driftwood, cotton bolls, and whatever’s blooming in the garden. Finds such as a library card catalog and Chinese sugar chest provide functional storage as well as visual interest. French wicker baskets, enamelware, wooden trays, and pottery bowls offer room for display and storage. Mirrors reflect light and create depth. Local artwork, such as Flutter in the Citrus by Maribel Angel hanging above the mantel, helps create a sense of place.
The small quarters work through the creation of zones for different activities. In the living room, an area rug with seating facing the fireplace and TV provides some separation from the dining table. In one of the bedrooms, sleeping quarters share space with an office created from a farm table and to-the-ceiling bracketed shelves. Open shelves have also been added to a corner of the kitchen and to a hallway nook – providing room for collections and necessities.
The guiding principle for this smaller than average coastal home is to reimagine it as a boat. Then space becomes relative, because it would be rather a large boat! Give every item a home, make good use of vertical space as well as floor space, carve out areas for every activity, adhere to a color palette, consider every detail for both form and function, continually clear any clutter, and enjoy the water.
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