ALL POSTS IN Coastal Cottage

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If you saw my previous post, you know that outfitting my sister’s beach house with accessories with lots of coastal charm for small $$ was a must. Searching estate sales, flea markets and yard sales for beachy accessories that fit our budget wasn’t exactly easy — but it sure was fun! Here are a few more of  our favorite thrifty finds:

Any Avon fans out there — recognize the green glass fish? Yep, that’s right, it’s actually an old Avon bottle which once held foaming bath oil. The bubble bath is long gone but the little jadeite koi’s charm remains — and for just $1 at a TN flea market? Wrap it up; I’ll take it! Beach House Bathroom Vanity Sink Area

Birdhouses are great — and not just for sheltering birds. We put this one, shaped like a lighthouse, to work as a bookend in our closet-turned-built-in bookcase. Like our other beachy bric-a-brac, this birdhouse has a storied past. My mom bought it at a prison. Yep, a prison — the Maine State Prison in Thomaston. Unique in the nation, the prisoners here are taught real-world skills in upholstery, woodworking and garment making. The money raised by this ingenious program goes toward reimbursing the state for the prisoner’s room and board as well as paying victims’ restitution and prisoners’ child support. Although you can’t shop their store online, you can check out the prisoners’ handiwork and if you’re ever in Maine, drop by.Tight Shot of a Beach House Bookcase

I love zoological prints. They’ve been trending for quite a while … and, as with anything trendy, they can be expensive. Luckily, it’s the internet to the rescue — several sites offer printable scans of public domain prints for free — yes, FREE! Vintage Printable and Graphics Fairy are two of my faves. Just print the images onto a high-quality paper (aka not standard printer paper), add a mat, then pop them into a frame. Beach House Bathroom Framed Vintage Print

Getting crafty with items we already have is another way we save money while filling the beach house with accessories we love. My sister and I bought this wood-framed mirror at an estate sale thinking it would be a good fit for the hall bath. Unfortunately, it was too small. Then my 18-year-old nephew scored this great boat cleat for only 50 cents which inspired us to cover the mirror’s frame in rope then “tie it off” to the cleat. Want to make your own? Get my step-by-step instructions.Beach House Rope-Covered Mirror

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Nautical Knick-Knacks
Budget Beach Cottage: Bedside Table Before and After
Budget Beach Cottage: Make a Nautical Rope Mirror
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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Once we’d tackled the painting and major carpentry projects (here and here) at my sister’s beach cottage, it was time to start decorating – my favorite part! As is true in any home, it’s the accessories that bring a look together and give your rooms personality — and — it will come as a shock to no one who’s read my Adventures in Antiquing posts that my favorite place to shop for accessories is at estate sales, flea markets and garage sales. Not only are the prices (WAY!) cheaper but I find the coolest stuff plus bits and pieces that I can upcycle into something new. And when you’re starting from scratch to fill a 3 bed/2 bath beach house — inexpensive and cool are your best friends.

Exhibit A: This sculptural, vintage whiskey decanter. Made as a promotional item in 1972 by Jim Beam to commemorate Key West’s 150th anniversary, the decanter’s colorful, kitschy subject and hand-painted details lured me over while the $10 price tag sealed the deal and earned it pride of place on the corner of the beach house’s bar. The fish on top actually lifts off to reveal the bottle’s opening. The decanter is empty but the rich smell of 40-year-old bourbon remains.  Beach House Bar Area

How cute is this little alarm clock?! Not very practical, but then who wants to be woken up when you’re on vacation anyway? My sister picked up this little cutie at an estate sale for just $4. Paired with a few shells we found (for free!) and a $2 ginger jar lamp that I covered in rope, this table has the coastal cottage look down pat.  Beach Cottage Bedside Table

I am absolutely in love with this ship’s model — my first and best Craigslist find (just $5!!). The ship’s prow was a bit battered (the previous owner’s son liked to “sail” the ship into the wall) and a few bits were missing but luckily the seller had kept them so my dad was able to make it ship-shape again. Surrounding the ship are zoological fish illustrations I printed (for free!) from this site then just popped into dark-stained frames.  Beach House Living Room With Ship Model, Candles and Shells

And when I can’t find exactly what I want – I make it. Yard/estate sales are a great place to buy candles. Sometimes they’re in pristine condition, sometimes, not so much. For candles that are dented, scratched or just plain ugly — cover them up. Learn more about this under $10 project and get my instructions here.Beach House Twine-Wrapped Candles

It’s taken 3 years of DIYing over family vacations but the beach house is slowly coming together. What do you think of our improvements?

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Bedside Table Before and After
Budget Beach Cottage: Make a Nautical Rope Mirror
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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When it comes to making over a beach house on the cheap, my family doesn’t just get our hands dirty knocking down kitchen walls and turning a tiny closet into a beachy bookcase, we’re also all-in when it comes to filling the beach house with one-of-a-kind furnishings.

My 18-year-old nephew scored this solid cherry bedside table for a song at an estate sale last fall. It was quite literally falling apart so he used his charisma and law-school-bound negotiating skills to get the seller to throw it in (for free!) with the rest of our haul. After my dad replaced missing bits and stabilized it, this once shabby little nightstand was ready for a chic makeover:
Beachy Rustic Nightstand Before and After

My sister and I decided to paint it black but re-stain the top to match an antique chest-on-chest on the bedroom’s opposite wall. Even though the finish was pretty scuffed up, more sanding was necessary to provide “tooth” for the paint while an orbital sander made short work of completely stripping the top so it could be stained. Because I planned to distress the paint to highlight details and allow the cherry wood to show thru, one coat of black paint was all I needed:
Sanding and Painting Rustic Nightstand

Once the paint had fully dried, I used sand paper to give the table a time-worn, distressed look. The key to distressing is to concentrate sanding on areas that would have naturally seen the most wear, like any raised details, corners and along edges. Next, I brushed the top with an oil-based stain, then used a cotton rag to wipe the same stain over the remainder of the nightstand. The stain soaked into the distressed areas to create a more realistic time-worn look.
Sanding and Staining Rustic Nightstand

For less than $20 in materials, this little table (that was once destined for the trash) provides handy bedside storage and adds just the right cottage touch to the master bedroom. Finished Cottage-Style Nightstand*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress; keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage: Make a Nautical Rope Mirror
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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When I say “budget beach cottage,” I ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie. Upcycling is far from the latest trend in my family — if we can find a way to repurpose or reuse something, we will.  Check out our beachy kitchen, living room, candles and built-in bookcase transformations to see what I mean.

Enter a plain-Jane, oak-framed mirror my sister and I bought at an estate sale intending it to serve as a vanity mirror for the hall bath. The rounded shape of the frame reminded us of a ship’s port hole and at just $5, the price was right. Sadly, the wood-framed mirror was too small for the bathroom — but it was just the right size for a narrow wall in the master bedroom. We hung it but the stained oak frame just wasn’t doing it for us. Luckily, my 18-year-old nephew found an old boat cleat at a yard sale for just 50 cents (clearly he’s been well instructed in the ways of the bargain-hunting force) and that was the inspiration we needed to wrap the frame in rope and “tie it off” to the cleat.

And … voila! Here’s our once plain-Jane mirror after its nautical makeover: Beachy Rope MirrorReady to make your own? Get the complete step-by-step instructions>>

Covering the frame is easy; the key is to start on the inside of the frame and really secure the first few rows with a super-strong epoxy (like Gorilla Glue) to prevent the remaining rows from shifting. Once you have a solid start, you can switch over to just tacking the rope with brads every few inches.
Beachy Rope Mirror Step-by-Step

And … inevitably when you’re taking photos in a small beach house with 5 nosy little dogs around (2 are mine and 3 are my sister’s) you end up with quite a few shots featuring a cute pup in the pic. Everyone, meet my sister’s furry little shadow, her 6-lb rescued Yorkie, Gracie:Cute Yorkie Dog and Beachy Rope Mirror

Giving a blah mirror a coastal makeover is easy — but be sure to check out my complete step-by-step instructions for a materials list and lots of helpful tips first>>

*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress, keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Built-In Bookcase
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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If you’ve read my antique posts then you know that I’m a big fan of finding new uses for old things – but I also believe in reworking a room’s architecture to better suit the way you live.

My sister’s beach house had a tiny closet filled with shelves in the main living room. How tiny you ask? So tiny that getting anything larger than a puzzle box into and out of it was a challenge. Initially, we had plenty of projects to keep us busy but once we had the kitchen and most of the painting covered, it was time to get creative!

Typically, “getting creative” in my family involves my Daddy’s excellent woodworking skills, a hastily sketched plan and lots of paint — and this time was no different. We decided to turn the mini closet into a built-in bookcase that would provide both decorative and hidden storage and fit in with our beach bungalow’s cottage charm. A weekend worth of work, @ $125 in materials and several trips to the hardware store later … voila, we’re all pretty proud of the finished project:   Beach House Built-In Before and After PhotosFirst, I should note that a closet is typically wider than its door – go ahead, peek inside a closet and you’ll see what I mean. In addition to the door’s framing, there’s usually a small amount of wall surrounding the framing. So even though the door was only 18 inches wide, the boxed-in recess of the closet was actually 24 inches wide.

We wanted to create as large of a built-in as possible so we first removed the door, molding and paneling above the closet then my dad used a jigsaw to cut away the few inches of paneling on either side of the door opening to fully open up the space. Next, we headed to the hardware store to find a stock kitchen cabinet to fit our opening and lumber to use as shelves and as a top for the base cabinet. You can see in the second image that the cabinet is just a little deeper than the opening but it doesn’t stick out so far that it’s obvious. Once everything had been primed, caulked and painted, it looked like a built-in that had always been part of the house’s architecture:Beach House Built-In Step-by-Step Photos

After the paint had dried, my sister and I set to work filling the shelves with our budget beachy finds. The cabinet’s drawer holds all our pups’ harnesses and leashes while the bottom door conceals a stack of rainy-day puzzles and games:Beach House Built-In After Photos*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress, keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

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Three years ago, my sister bought a rundown fishing cottage on the NC coast. While any beach house is certainly better than no beach house (I’m not complaining!), this particular cottage was in pretty bad shape. Check out more before-and-after photos here to see what I mean.

Before: Dark, mismatched and cramped, the kitchen was a mish-mash of colors and materials. The yellow cabinets were constructed with the house in the ’70s while the previous owners added a few white pre-fab cabinets (front left) in the ’80s for extra storage. In addition to being just plain ugly, the sheet vinyl flooring had definitely seen better days and was cracked and peeling up.  Dark, dated and dingy beach house before makeover

The yellow kitchen cabinets put up quite a fight, it took no less than 2 coats of primer and 4 (yes, 4!!) coats of white semigloss to make them over. Other than A LOT of paint, shelf liner and caulk, the cabinets stayed the same. If you look again at the before photo, you’ll notice we had a board cut at the hardware store to fill in a pointless empty space above the sink. For less than $10 for the brackets and board, we added a cute shelf that gives the cabinets the cottage look we wanted.

After: We briefly considered laying tile in the kitchen but decided to continue the wood flooring from the adjacent living room for better flow. Isn’t it amazing what a few gallons of paint (and A LOT of elbow grease) can do?!Paint works wonders to brighten up this beach house kitchen

Before: The fridge was tucked into an L-shaped wall that concealed it from the dining room on one side and the living room on the other. This also meant that the kitchen felt really cramped and wasn’t fully open to either room.Paint works wonders to brighten up this beach house kitchen

After: Moving the fridge and water line to the opposite wall allowed us to entirely remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room and turn the wall separating the kitchen and living room into a small bar area. Bonus: Moving the water line meant my brother could plumb in the dishwasher so we no longer need to roll it over to the sink to run a load of dirty dishes (which was a serious pain in the butt).
Paint works wonders to brighten up this beach house kitchen

After: Here’s another view showing how open the kitchen is now to the dining and living rooms after we removed the partial walls. The column conceals a necessary steel support so it stayed, my dad boxed it in with leftover paneling and trim to make it a design feature. A thrifted brass bell (just $3) lets everyone know when it’s dinnertime.
Removing walls opens up this sunny beach house kitchen

*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress, keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

MORE BEACH HOUSE MAKEOVERS:
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room

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My sister bought a fixer-upper beach house almost two years ago which we’ve slowly but surely been hammering back into shape. In addition to a long list of structural changes, we needed to find a house full of beachy furniture and accessories on the cheap. I hail from a family of bargain hunters/diy-ers so the beach house has been a fun challenge for us.

Before: We started in the main living area which was dark, crowded and just plain sad. Sunny yellow trim did nothing to brighten up the driftwood gray paneling. Unfortunately, you can’t see the pitiful greenish-gold shag carpet which, thanks to leaking windows, had mildewed and actually smelled worse than it looked (hard to believe, I know). Dark, dated and dingy beach house living room before makeover

See the Afters

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