Modern Updates Transform This 1940s Beach Bungalow with Breezy Coastal Style
Like a well-worn nugget of sea glass, the old bungalow nestled in the sand at the tip of Lido Isle just waiting to be discovered.
It was—by a client of designer Wendy Blackband. "He called and asked, 'Are you sitting down?'" Blackband says. "He had bought this 1942 home on the best lot in Newport Harbor. I couldn't wait to get to work."
And much work awaited. Small rooms, tiny windows, meager outdoor connections, and mere hints of beachy California views tarnished the charm of the vintage home.
"I wanted to make the rooms more usable, but I also wanted to respect this home's history," homeowner Craig Atkins says. "I liked its traditional Cape Cod feel. I grew up there, and that style feels good to me."
Blackband understood Craig's nostalgia. She spent her childhood in Newport Harbor, and this house took her back to carefree days cruising the bay. "It was important to retain certain elements of this home that nod to the past, to retain its roots, as we renovated it for today's style of living," she says.
Preserving the best of the old—lime-washed brick, shiplap siding, a charming cupola—Blackband brought in the new. "We basically retained the home's footprint, but we blew it out," she says. Interior walls and old windows fell, replaced by large steel-framed glass doors and ocean breezes.
The 1940s home was updated to optimize its bayside location. Modern touches, such as a black iron stair rail, mesh with classic features including white tongue-and-groove paneling set in a nostalgic vertical style. A cluster of pendant lights matches the volume of the space above the stairs.
The sleek black metal contrasts the classic paneling and an updated answer to the traditional blue-and-white coastal palette. "I wanted to combine old and new," Blackband says. "This is a modern take on the old beach bungalow."
In the great room, a cozy sectional now welcomes the active family to drop anchor for a bit and watch boats bob about the bay. "My sons and I love everything about the water—sailing, surfing, spearfishing," Craig says. "I love that we can connect to the ocean even when we're inside. One of my favorite things is the huge saltwater aquarium we put on the back wall. Everything here celebrates the sea."
An overscale coffee table provides plenty of room for snacks and drinks at bayside gatherings. Rattan furniture on the adjoining patio evokes a vintage coastal vibe.
Seating and game tables rest near a bar niche that makes entertaining easy. Open glass-and-metal shelves echo the home's windows, while white oak floating shelves and cabinetry usher in the sandy hues that join white, black, and watery greens and blues in a refreshing coastal scheme.
Penny tile juxtaposes contemporary glass and black metal on a backsplash with retro attitude suited to the 1942 home. Countertops look like marble, but they're family-friendly Neolith slabs.
More libations, from a spectacular wine wall, tempt guests in the adjacent dining area. And after dinner, the "parlor"—an intimate spot furnished with a quartet of striped chairs and a live-edge drinks table—beckons for conversation long after the sun's last rays fade from the bay.
The "parlor" in Craig Atkins' home now takes in 220-degree water views.
Whether the occasion involves cooking for a crowd or just hanging out as a family, the reimagined kitchen delivers. Blackband removed a wall to enlarge this family hub. "Now it's light and bright," she says. "It feels so inviting."
Fish-scale tiles—given added dimension by sand-color grout—shimmer on the range wall, imbuing subtle pattern and texture. A durable, marble-look sintered stone slab tops a new island, while Absolute Black granite covers perimeter counters. Ashley Norton solid-brass hardware in black feels at once modern and timeless in this fresh approach to the coastal kitchen. A Shaws apron-front sink accentuates the home's nostalgic feel.
Cobalt blue saloon doors lead to the adjacent pantry-mudroom-laundry combination, a space teeming with functional storage. The wealth of white-painted built-ins pops against a patterned tile floor. "We designed the concrete tile ourselves to be really large scale," Blackband says. "It's so fun."
A whimsical Dutch door invites fresh air into a high-function storage and work space. Countertops have the appearance of on-trend concrete, but they're easy-care Caesarstone surfacing.
Patterned tiles also accent risers on the white oak stairs leading to the home's private spaces.
Craig's bedroom serves as a sanctuary, but like the rest of the home, it's designed to capture sweeping harbor views. A new vaulted ceiling, paired with expansive windows, creates a light, airy atmosphere in the room. The frame of the canopy bed mimics the clean, dark lines of the metal window frames. But nothing obstructs the sight lines to the water, not even the TV. "We were clever about that and hid the television," Blackband says. "It disappears down into a cabinet at the foot of the bed when not in use."
A chaise sectional offers a soft seat next to the windows. White-painted board-and-batten siding on the walls plays against tongue-and-groove paneling on the ceiling.
Black notes repeated from the bedroom crescendo in the primary bath, where a diamond-pattern floor complements black vanity cabinets and a black-and-white freestanding tub. For contrast, Blackband used a bit of color-blocking, coating the tops of two walls with a gray-muddied green paint that ties to the hue of the bedroom rug. Gold-plated faucets cap the space with glamour.
A custom closet keeps Craig's clothes organized.
At night, the 14-foot-long aquarium can be seen from the bay. A tree-lined approach, a rarity on Lido Isle, leads to the beachside home. A matte black finish on the outdoor shower contrasts lime-washed brick.
The family's sailing yacht, docked right outside the door, also got a fresh makeover. Son Wyatt's room features leather chairs, a hair-on-hide rug, and fun round shelf units. In son Parker's bath, a gear faucet from Watermark complements a white ceramic vessel sink.
"I love the mix of finishes and styles we brought together in this house," Blackband says. "We found the sweet spot between sophistication and playfulness that fits this water-loving family."