House Tours: Colorful Beach Cottage

Fixer Upper cover
Author Mary Kay Andrews and her husband, Tom, fulfilled their dream of living on a coast when they bought a fixer-upper on Tybee Island, Georgia. Many coats of paint, vintage finds, and beach treasures later, the Breeze Inn is a cozy cottage perfect for gathering friends and family.

Curb Appeal

When the real estate agent first showed Mary Kay and Tom the cottage, it was painted "egg-yolk yellow with circus-blue trim." Their vision was to make this cottage reminiscent of the pastel-color Florida beach cottages of the 1940s. They started with the home's exterior. A mint-green paint job, white trim, and a white picket fence were a breezy start. For a fun pop of color, the hot-pink screen door with an aluminum heron silhouette, a flea market find, creates an inviting entrance.

Bright Entrance

Teal paint juices up an old hall tree. Hooks, shelves, and baskets are ideal for corralling beach essentials. An entryway that can house hats, towels, sunscreen, and more keeps these items from creating clutter in the rest of the house.

Get the Look: Frame clothing for budget-friendly artwork. Here, vintage swimwear adds to the cottage's 1940s charm.

Cozy Living

Years of collecting cast-off furniture and vintage accessories gives the living room a "funky, junky, retro coastal vibe." Vintage rattan, antique wicker, '50s-era lamps, and bark-cloth draperies were all found at estate sales, at flea markets, on eBay, or on Craigslist. These pieces, along with slipcovered furniture, make the living room a cozy place where family and friends can put up their feet without worry.

Get the Look: Shutters are a classic cottage feature. Use them inside to add charm to a window or doorway.

Colorful Inspiration

The vintage rattan side table houses stacks of Mary Kay's books. The colorful book jackets were inspiration for the home's color scheme.

Vintage Flair

A pair of vintage 1950s lamps provides light and adds humor to the living room decor. For years, the Andrewses scoured flea markets and garage sales for items for their "future beach house." These lamps were part of the collection.

Storage Central

The entertainment center opposite the sofa provides storage for the living room. To keep with the home's vintage vibe, Mary Kay and Tom spruced up an old dresser with a distressed paint job. Removing the top drawer provides storage space and access to electronic equipment. A junk-shop catch hangs above the television and completes the scene.

Worldly Wall Decor

A vintage shelf houses a collection of knickknacks. Flamingo figurines, glass bottles, globes, a pretty plate, and a small painting come together to create an interesting display. These items are arranged in a symmetrical design that brings order to the mismatched pieces.

Get The Look: Start a collection. Knowing what items you're looking for will make flea markets and garage sales less overwhelming.

Casual Dining

The heart pine dining table and mismatched chairs provide the perfect setting for casual meals after a long day at the beach. The kitchen is through the doorway, which cuts down on mealtime traffic. Mint-green paint, horizontal planks, and vintage signs contribute to the home's cottage style.

Modern Touches

The kitchen's crisp white cabinetry pops against mint-green walls. Silver pulls add a modern touch to the otherwise vintage look. To expand the 1940s motif, floral cafe curtains dress up the windows and vintage canisters line the counters, providing storage and retro charm.

Mix of Styles

A vintage cast-iron sink, "big enough to hold a bushel of boiled blue crabs," adds a retro touch to the modern kitchen. Cabinet doors with glass insets allow the Andrewses to display their favorite dishes. A collection of vintage plates makes easy wall art. Here, the plates hang above the entrance to the screen porch and add secondhand style to the modern kitchen.

Calming Master Suite

Shades of blue and white in the master bedroom create a calming escape. Mismatched bedding and stacks of pillows in different sizes and patterns work together because of their matching hues. Wall-mount lamps on both sides of the bed provide task lighting so one person can read while the other sleeps. Next to the bed, an antique table makes a charming nightstand and stores bedtime essentials.

Windows That Wow

Floor-to-ceiling windows let in lots of light and allow the Andrewses to enjoy views of the beach. Blue panels with a white pattern continue the bedroom's blue-and-white color scheme. Flea market finds, such as the ornate clock and luggage stand, are charming additions to the room.

Editor's Tip: Install curtain rods between the ceiling and window frame. Hanging window treatments at this height draws the eye up and makes the room appear bigger.

Sink Style

Mary Kay and Tom added personal touches to the bathroom. Powder blue paneling gives the space classic cottage style. An old dresser is repurposed into a sink and vanity with lower drawers that offer plenty of storage options. A vintage mirror replaces a traditional medicine cabinet above the vanity. Seashells on pedestals and wall sconces bring a beachy feel to the room.

Bathroom Beauties

Mary Kay hunted down period-appropriate pieces to match the home's look. The vintage claw-foot bathtub is ideal for bathing grandchildren, and the shower setup works for adults. Built-in shelves hold beach finds, such as sand, shells, and coral. Powder blue paneling makes the white elements pop.

Beachy Wall Art

Vintage sconces above the towel rack are painted white to give the collection a cohesive look. Seashells rest on the tiny shelves and bring the beach inside.

Works of Art

Because the beach house is where Mary Kay escapes to work on her novels, it makes sense that they would find their way into the decor. Framed book jackets create colorful wall art above her desk. The vintage chair stands out against the white desk, walls, and window treatments.

Work Essentials

Vintage finds are scattered across the desktop. A typewriter and telephone are classic items every writer needs. Ceramic pieces are repurposed to hold supplies such as papers and pencils.

Nautical Bedroom

Whitewashed walls and horizontal planks create a relaxing backdrop in the second bedroom. Vintage nautical accessories decorate the room. The red, white, and blue color scheme accentuates these pieces.

First Mate

A wicker desk functions as a makeshift vanity to hold photographs, a metal fan, and other items. Above the desk, a ship's steering wheel, repurposed as a mirror, adds to the room's nautical decor. Oars are propped against the wall for easy wall art.

Breezy Screen Porch

When the Andrewses purchased their home the porch was littered with discarded refrigerators. Many coats of paint and vintage furniture turned this space into an inviting gathering spot. Mary Kay had an old glider painted margarita green. White wicker side chairs and tables highlight the glider, making it the porch's focal point. Vintage letters match the mint-green walls. Colorful pillows and an area rug add comfort and complete the look.

Easy Accents

Piles of starfish are displayed on vintage trays placed around the porch for a quick and easy accent.

Service with Style

The 1940s rattan stools and bar have classic beach home flair. The bar provides storage for glasses and drinks and saves on trips inside while entertaining. Colorful lanterns bring all the colors of the porch together.

Beach Living

A bridge connects the Breeze Inn to the beach. Family gatherings at the colorful cottage include strolls along the beach, fishing expeditions for that night's dinner, and lots of together time. "It turns out what Tom and I really craved was a time and a place to slow down and delight in the little things," Mary Kay says. "And after only 30 years of waiting, we finally have it."

Meet Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is a best-selling author of seven books, including her newest novel The Fixer Upper, which she wrote while working on the Breeze Inn. "It's about one woman's quest to redo an old house and her life," Mary Kay says. Keep up with Mary Kay and sign up for her e-mail newsletter at

Special Offer

Get Mary Kay Andrews' latest novel, The Fixer Upper, for just $12 -- 20 percent off the list price. Order at or call 800/678-5752.

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