Watch Hill beach cottage gets a bold makeover

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This traditional beach cottage gets a makeover by Kate Jackson Design, situated along the shoreline in the coastal village of Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The 900 square foot, three bedroom, two bath cottage is adjacent to the main house and is used by the clients kids and grandchildren on the weekends and summer holidays. The designer kept mostly to the overall beach cottage aesthetic, yet avoiding typical nautical interiors around the area. “I knew that I had to push the envelope a bit with this cottage, because the space would be occupied by my clients’ kids and grandkids, who are young and hip and want a space that reflects their youthful spirit,” says Jackson. The design challenge in this cottage was adding elements of surprise within the context of a traditional beach cottage feel.

The living room brings in summer with a plump sofa and a casually placed throw sharing the space with the clients’ weathered trunk. Jackson is a big fan of the fig-leaf throw pillow print. “I’m really pleased to see Peter Dunham create such a gorgeous fabric with fig leaves; they’re a great way to go botanical without going overboard with florals,” she says.

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Due to the living room’s unique floor plan, Jackson persuaded her clients to embrace a cream-colored hide area rug versus an expected rectangular sisal rug.

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“I found these mid-century wicker chairs online and rooted them to the present with textiles,” says Jackson. The designer also framed sea sponges and coral pieces in driftwood frames.

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The china cabinet in the background of this image used to be filled with mismatched dishes and porcelain pieces. Jackson gave the cabinet a second life by removing the untouched pieces and filling the corner display with miniature oil canvases, vintage leather books and family keepsakes.

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A striped lumbar pillow and a framed piece of coral steer the dining area in the direction of charming coastal cottage style.

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Jackson replaced the original brass and crystal light fixture in the dining room with a fun turquoise fixture custom made to fit the room’s small scale. The Pottery Barn dining set was painted a matte black and white to better show off the chandelier’s punchy color.

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The designer found vintage postcards of Watch Hill on eBay and framed them in the dining area. The rolling hills and surrounding gardens are brought indoors with greenery and flowers in vases.

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A breakfast nook marries a traditional cottage feel (beadboard panel and ceiling) with colorful accents (punchy throw pillow pattern and teal tableware).

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The rope-covered loft-bed pillar is a nod to the cottage’s nautical roots in White Hill; the cottage is just a few minutes from the beach.

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Vintage saris made into shams and bolster covers dictated Jackson’s design path in the bedroom. “I found the saris online and thought that they would make an eclectic addition to the space. Throughout the process, I just went with what I felt like I would want to see and feel in a beach cottage,” she says.

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When it came to dressing the oak floors, the designer opted for faux fur over sisal or jute in this corner bedroom sitting area. “Everyone expects natural fiber rugs in a beach cottage, so it’s refreshing to see different textures mixed in with pieces that feel comfortable and familiar,” says Jackson.

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Jackson says she was lucky to have carte blanche with each room in the guest cottage. The most memorable moment during the design process happened on the final day of installation; her clients had arrived at the cottage and left her a voicemail, telling her how much they loved the cottage’s new look.

Photos: Nat Rea Photography

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