Tradition and modern styles come together in this beautiful beach house fit for a family of five.

By Kathy Barnes David A. Land and Eddie Ross
May 10, 2019

Brendan Walsh grew up flying kites and searching for crabs at low tide on the beaches of Cape Cod Bay. Now with three kids of his own, Brendan and his wife, Liz, wanted to pass down those childhood experiences, so they built a house two blocks from Brendan’s parents. “This place is all about happiness,” Liz says.

Bits of driftwood, wide cabana stripes, and a few rope accents give the requisite nods to nautical style. However, designer Tharon Anderson helped Liz realize that her vision for a summery seaside home was actually all about color.

“Each room has a big splash of color, whether it’s navy cabinets, a Kelly green vanity, or an orange surfboard,” Liz says. The bold colors pop against all-white walls, which, Anderson says, will keep future decor updates simple and inexpensive. When mixing and matching a range of brights, the trick to making them all work together is to choose complementary levels of saturation. This helps the colors support one another and build from room to room, Anderson says.

When sand and water from the beach inevitably end up inside, the home’s natural materials—cement floor tiles, woven-grass rugs, and thick canvas upholstery—make it easy to keep things shipshape. Cleanup is fast, freeing the Walshes to get back to celebrating fun, family, and summertime living.

Liz and Brendan have sophisticated style, but they didn’t want any spaces to be off-limits to their three kids. In the living room, tough materials help bridge the gap: The rug is an easy-clean flat-weave, armchairs with busy patterns obscure stains, and tight-weave canvas sofas stand up to almost everything. Unfussy ivory linen panels recede yet soften the bright white and blue palette.

From pale aqua to deep navy, blues repeat through the house. The kitchen leans into a cool blue-and-white nautical combo.

The dining room gets a warm-up from a bleached wood table and sandy beige textiles. High-gloss Newburyport Blue paint from Benjamin Moore can handle frequent wipe downs. Busy patterns minimize the look of stains and spills, too. Protect cushions with a stain repellent, or choose a natural fabric for slipcovers that can go through the wash. What you don't see are the casters. A slipcover hides wheels for sliding bulky chairs into place.

A flat-weave indoor-outdoor rug shakes clean or can go into the washer. For wood floors, Anderson opts for oak. The hardwood is durable but has plenty of character.

A big basket stocked with beach towels, sunscreen, and toys sits at the ready under the console. Blink and you'll miss the tempered glass. In place of spindles, a sturdy panel opens the space. Play up the millwork, too. Benjamin Moore Boothbay Gray (HC-165) repeats from the front door.

To set a calmer tone than elsewhere in the house, Anderson pulled an array of soft blue-greens into the master. In another reverse, the walls bring in color; bedding and other accents are white. A chandelier above set a soft glow at night.

The kids’ bathroom and the bunk room bring together a mix of brights. The bold palette works because one color is as intense as the next. “I love cement or glazed terracotta tiles in the bathroom," said Anderson. "They’re indestructible, and you never have to feel bad if water sits on them.” For counters in the kitchen and baths, hard, nonporous quartz gets the nod.

A pair of built-in bunks designed for son JR also accommodates visiting cousins. The beds are all about repetition—clean lines and matching red-and-white bedding in graphic patterns. Here and in the neighboring blue-green bath, brass and rope fixtures add nautical vibes without the kitsch.

The couple and their kids (Tara, JR, and Sloan) spend a lot of time entertaining. “With Brendan growing up here and his parents around the corner, the house brims with guests, including lots and lots of kids,” Liz says. Rooms flow into each other, spilling onto the back deck. Most nights end with a fire outside, the sunset, and a glass of wine.

The backyard’s seating and dining areas feature furnishings made in all-weather materials to handle the salty sea breezes. Glass hurricane shades stop winds from putting out candles and feel a touch more sophisticated than lanterns. A line of lawn chairs provides a place for the adults to lounge while the kids play near the water.

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