House Tours: Coastal-Cool Cottage Style

Sea Dreams
Interiors expert Tracey Rapisardi brings beachy flair to every home project she touches. Tour two homes that display Rapisardi's signature cottage style.

Poolside Oasis

Although she lives with her family in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, homeowner Gay Cloutier yearned for an oasis that would transport her to her childhood home on the Queensland beaches in Australia. The Cloutiers' pool area is designed to transition smoothly among multiple activity centers, both indoors and out. In addition to the house itself, the property encompasses an outdoor fireplace, dining area, lounging deck, pool with slide, and putting green.

Sunny Disposition

The moment Gay walked into designer Tracey Rapisardi's interiors store, Sea Rose, she knew she'd found the perfect person to decorate her family's pool house. "I met Tracey and I felt like we were long-lost soul mates," Gay says. "She's the mermaid, and I gave her the water to swim in."

Coastal Cool

Rapisardi's casual cabana flair is alive throughout the pool house, from the seaglassy green-and-blue palette to the mermaid and sealife accents. In this small dressing room, wainscoting outfitted with hooks is a handy spot for wet towels.

Beach Breakfast

Crisp white shutters and a banquette trimmed in white wainscoting keep the coastal theme going in the breakfast area. The fabric on the banquette cushion and throw pillows is stain and spill resistant -- a smart choice for a family with four children and two dogs.

Seashore Accents

Painted furniture is a hallmark of Rapisardi's style. Here, pastel stripes painted on the dining table prevent the room from feeling stuffy.

Ocean Reflections

Because the rest of the room plays it casual, Rapisardi wasn't afraid to add this sparkly chandelier. Reflective glass pieces are repeated throughout the house.

Breezy Palette

"I used seven custom colors throughout the space," Rapisardi says. Each of these tones is designed to layer easily with the others, for a look that is delicate and cool.

Easy Transition

The living room is a perfect place to relax on cool evenings. A super-comfy sofa and pair of chairs cluster around inviting focal points: a flatscreen TV and a sea-glass-surrounded fireplace.

Inspired by the Sea

Like many of the details in the pool house, the fireplace surround is custom. The glass tiles mimic a colorful aquarium, adding plenty of interest even when a fire isn't crackling inside.

Open Kitchen

Simplicity reigns in the kitchen. White ceiling-high wainscoting is all the decoration the walls need, and visual interest comes in the form of tiny details -- such as star cutouts and shutter-style cabinet doors.

Team Approach

Rapisardi and her husband, Richie, designed the stair balustrades, then painted them aqua to help break up the white in the entryway. Cherry treads recall ship ladder details.

Dreaming of Nantucket

Although he resides in a coastal suburb in Maine, Joe Charrier had Nantucket on the brain when he built a new home for his family. With help from Rapisardi, the cottage-cute interior now reflects the dramatic dormers and wood shingles Joe created for the exterior. These seaside accents provide a hint of what's to come.

Character Counts

Joe and his wife Pam moved this hutch with them from their old house into the new. A few coats of pastel paint transformed it into a piece that fit perfectly with their new decor. "People sometimes think you have to pitch everything in a room and start over, but that's not how I work," Rapisardi says. Painting, whitewashing, and distressing can breathe new life into a formerly dark and dated piece.

Aged Appeal

Rapisardi loves signage reminiscent of bygone days in beach towns. Two lanterns flank this custom sign, while underneath a fireplace constructed from weathered granite and bricks from an old mill gives the new home instant character.

Lovely Linen

There's nothing more inviting than soft, white linen slipcovers and quilt draped casually over a sofa back. Rapisardi added plenty of pillows in pastel pink, green, and blue to keep the palette alive in the living room.

Top of the Table

These cherry bowls from France mix naturally with vintage tableware from the Charrier's collection. Light-color table linens add country charm.

Room to Move

A large open space with wide-plank floors is the center of activity for the Charrier family. A rug defines the main sitting area, but traffic is still able to flow freely throughout the space.

Details, Details

"The colors are bright and happy, even on a cloudy day," Pam says. This McCoy pottery was one of Pam's splurges for the new space. She loves little details like the flower detailing on the vase handles and the ribbed sides on the oblong bowl.

Form and Function

Rapisardi ensured that the Charriers' main family spaces were both durable and beautiful. The cotton canvas slipcovers are machine-washable. Rapisardi deliberately kept the windows free from fabric window treatments in order to draw interest to architectural elements, such as the shutters and panes.

Sweet Slumber

Color comes alive in the guest bedroom. A warm shade of lilac covers the walls and ceilings, enveloping visitors in calm. The antique bed frame came from Sea Rose, Rapisardi's shop.

Quiet Time

Rapisardi thoughtfully included a vintage vanity in the guest bedroom. The restored table, paired with a three-way mirror, is a peaceful spot to begin and end each day. "I try not to do it all with store-bought items," Rapisardi says. "You need to put some individuality into it."

Kingly Comfort

Layers of fluffy bedding make it impossible not to relax in the master bedroom. Quilts and a chenille duvet are the foundation for a pile of pillows, each with its own subtle pattern or detail -- tiny floral prints here, ruffled edging there.

Sea Dreams

The master bedroom is full of classic Rapisardi style. The iron bed frame is painted white to match a leggy side table. The floral lampshade is a custom detail Rapisardi suggested to coordinate with the bedding. Sparkle comes by way of a vintage clock studded with pink rhinestones. And a bucket of seashells reminds Joe and Pam that the ocean isn't far away.

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