Bring the beach home: Expert tips for designing a relaxing, coastal space

WASHINGTON There’s something about a beach house that triggers a state of instant relaxation.

Sure, the location doesn’t hurt (especially if there are miles between you and your inbox), but there’s more to it than that. It’s the presence of calming color palettes, the feeling of wide-plank floors, and the smell of fresh air blowing through the windows.

It’s the sound of sea grass in the garden, and the patio that’s always ready for a party.

Put down the mouse and step away from the vacation rental websites.

You don’t need to travel to the beach to experience this tranquility. Marnie Oursler, host of DIY Network’s “Big Beach Builds,” shares her favorite ways to bring the beach to any home.

outdoor string lights hanging on a line in backyard
String lights Oursler’s first tip will change the ambience of your outdoor space for less than $50. Her go-to accessory for the beach house porch or patio is a package (or two) of string lights.   “They really add a nice element when you’re entertaining outside, or if you’re just outside with the kids, or having a glass of wine. You feel like you’re in a different place because of the lighting,” she said. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/ronstik)
Photographed with the Canon D60.
Planters At the beach, the key to landscaping is to keep it low-key Who wants to do yard work on vacation? — so Oursler relies on planters to beautify the outdoor space. She suggests sticking with plants that are light in color and easy to maintain, such as beach grass. “It’s not too colorful where it’s going to clash with whatever you have going on, but it’s just an easy, streamlined coastal look,” Oursler said. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/LindaMarieB)
Brazilian chair with decorative cushion hanging in white bedroom with posters and green plants
White walls Beige may be boring, but white is wonderful when it comes to creating a beach-inspired look. (Plus, the color or lack of color is on trend right now.) Oursler recently painted all the rooms in her own home white to achieve “more of a Scandinavian-type look.” “You can’t go wrong painting everything white,” she added. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/KatarzynaBialasiewicz)
table lamp in blue tone beach house living room interior
Light furniture If you have a bigger budget and want to update your furniture, Oursler recommends choosing pieces that are lighter in color even when it comes to rugs. “A lighter rug and a light sofa will really change the entire look of your house,” she said. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/ben-bryant)
vintage swing and blue pillow
Pillows If you find all the white too boring, throw in a splash — or two — of color with pillows. (It’s much easier to update the look of a pillow than it is a couch.) “Nice, soothing colors are very popular right now like that seaglass palate,” Oursler said. And don’t forget to accessorize the outdoor furniture. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Kwanchai_Khammuean)
White fabric texture background. Crumpled of curtains material.
Linen window treatments You may not be able to smell the beach air blowing through your windows, but at least you can replicate the same look with updated window treatments. Oursler said at beach houses, linen window treatments are big. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Lemon_tm)
Closeup of a brushed nickel and frosted glass bathroom light fixture in a light blue bathroom.
Light fixtures Another simple way to make a big change, aesthetically, is with new light fixtures. Oursler said those with wooden or nickel accents bring a lighter, more coastal look to a space. “We always say it’s the jewelry for your room,” she said. Want more home design tips? Catch Oursler in action as she rebuilds beach homes in nearby Bethany Beach, Monday nights at 9 p.m. on DIY Network. (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/wmarkusen)
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outdoor string lights hanging on a line in backyard
Photographed with the Canon D60.
Brazilian chair with decorative cushion hanging in white bedroom with posters and green plants
table lamp in blue tone beach house living room interior
vintage swing and blue pillow
White fabric texture background. Crumpled of curtains material.
Closeup of a brushed nickel and frosted glass bathroom light fixture in a light blue bathroom.


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