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“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.” –Wyland

JUDY AND STEPHEN BARTOL knew right away that this was the cottage for them. Having completed an exhaustive search for a vacation home in Stephen’s native Nova Scotia, at last they came to view this Bayswater Beach beauty! It was easy for the Bartols to look past the dated decor. This pretty property sits adjacent to the coast with stunning views of the sandy beach from almost every window.

When they enlisted my help for the update, it was clear that the splendour of Nova Scotia’s South Shore would be the inspiration for the colour scheme and relaxed style of this restful retreat. With a mix of shades borrowed from the ocean view, the line between outside and inside is blurred. Simple comfort is the primary focus in the decorating scheme throughout the cottage. A mix of easy pieces with durable fabrics and finishes mingle effortlessly with subtle nautical and seaside touches to create this calm coastal cottage.

The Bartols lead busy lives in Ontario and wanted an East Coast escape where they could unwind and enjoy some down time. A multitasking living room was essential; a place where they could curl up with a good book, bask in the view or host an occasional family gathering. The fussy window valances and busy plaid wallpaper were removed (See before photo). Now a crisp white beadboard on the lower wall sets an informal cottage tone.

A sandy colour was selected for the wall above the chair rail. We echoed that same hue throughout the room in the sofa, chair, accent pillows and lamp shades. Window treatments throughout the cottage are kept to a minimum. Simple cellular shades and faux wood blinds allow for privacy and light control when needed but otherwise do not detract from the coastal view.

Living room after the renovations.

The sofa and chair were chosen, in part, for the classic shape but also for the durability of the fabric. In a beach house, it is essential that materials and finishes can withstand the extra stress from the sun, salt and sand. Comfortable cushions were a must for the wooden window seat. A custom seat cover and accent pillows were commissioned in a preppy striped fabric. It now functions as a perfect perch for reading or beach gazing.

Weathered tables hold reading lamps and offer a spot to rest a drink and snack. Their distressed finish infuses a rustic mood and the black colour contrasts nicely with neutral surroundings. The sea grass rug stands up well to sandy feet and adds texture to the calm palette. Natural materials, like the wood floors, rug and wooden bowl with apples, set a casual tone and add warmth to the room.

Although the living room is uncluttered, several accents were carefully chosen. The pair of acrylic paintings above the sofa is a custom diptych created by Stephen’s brother, David Bartol. The shed, lupin field and water in the artwork reference the outside environment and add personality to the room. Additional accents, like the seabird sculpture and starfish, add life to the scene and the lantern has a subtle maritime feel.

If the living room is the space in which to relax, then the principal bedroom is a place to recharge. Comfort and calm are paramount. Once again the beachy colour scheme is repeated for consistency and tranquillity.

The obsolete floral wallpaper (see before photo) was discarded and the upper wall was revived with a fresh coat of paint in a warm sand shade. The crisp white beadboard was retained for its classic cottage style. Although open windows typically offer a fresh ocean breeze, an updated ceiling fan delivers relief on rare balmy nights.

Bisque-colour furniture with an antique glaze finish and rubbed bronze hardware keeps the mood casual in this bedroom. Using one round bedside table in an espresso stain (on the far side of the bed) breaks up the furniture set and keeps the room from feeling over-matched. The darker table works in this room as a link, tying in the rich browns in the hardware, lighting and bedding. These dark notes infuse a wisp of contrast for visual interest. The resulting interplay allows for peacefulness in the space, but not monotony.

Like the living room, this bedroom also features a large window seat with a perfect view of the shoreline. The bed sits opposite the window to afford the full scope of the vista on a lazy morning. We applied the same cheerful fabric to finish this window seat as was used in the living room. Cool white bedsheets and plump pillows look inviting; a soft espresso quilt is draped and at the ready for cooler nights. Watery blue accent pillows add a dash of colour to the otherwise neutral backdrop.

We wanted to maintain an open and airy setting in this room. Many people are best able to relax when disorder is kept at bay. Thus, once again, accents were chosen to accentuate the tranquil feeling of the space. Reading lights were placed on each bedside table. Natural marine items are scattered in vignettes around the room, including a hurricane lantern in which sand and shells are placed. Another seabird carving perches atop the dresser and two large shells are displayed on pedestals. Each allude to the inspiration for this serene space—the sea.

Kimberley Eddy owns Evolve Interior Decorating.

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