Coastal style is back, but not as you know it – this New Jersey beach house is a lesson in subtle sophistication

The coastal-chic architect-designed home features a 'subtle, sophisticated palette'...

neutral living room in coast beach house in New Jersey
(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

This beautiful beach house in New Jersey was given a sophisticated upgrade after the original home was irreparably damaged in a fire.

Interior designer Joan Enger, of J Patryce Design, took on the project for the client who had owned the home since 1986.

After the fire damage, the owner reached out to the original architect, Richard Graham, who was commissioned to resurrect an updated version of the stately Southern Colonial home.

J Patryce Design was brought onto the project to bring the owner's vision of a 'subtle, sophisticated palette without an overtly ‘beachy’ feel'. Coastal decor ideas were easy to achieve for Joan.

Joan says: 'While the palette remained somewhat expected for a beach house, we turned to vintage and custom furnishings and artwork throughout to create interesting lines and form for less expected touches. 

'We mixed natural materials like caning, seagrass, rift oak, shiplap, and textured linen to break up the upholstery.'

Southern Colonial beach house in New Jersey exterior

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

Spring Lake, affectionately referred to as the 'Irish Riviera' is a quaint beach resort town with impressive Victorian homes, manicured lawns, tree-lined streets, and beautiful beaches that have remained pristine. 

Joan adds: 'The completed house has a regal, stately presence to it. It sits proudly steps from the ocean and is surrounded by other impressive waterfront homes on one of the best blocks in town. You can smell and hear the ocean roar and the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular.'

Take the tour below:

The great room 

neutral living room with styled shelving

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

'We designed the great room (main image and above) and living room to function separately and as one space,' explains Joan. 'The family mostly gathers in large groups in the summer and on major holidays. 

'We kept it chic but durable, turning to a few performance fabrics (sectional for example) mixed in with more special textiles and finishes for areas garnering less use.'

She adds: 'We took cues from our surroundings (seagrass, sparkling sea spray, ever-changing skies, immaculate landscaping) to inform our palette and design direction. 

'We kept patterns subtle, turning to texture and material pivots (wood, caning, linen, worn leather, etc.) to speak to the overall directive.'

White living room, beach house in New Jersey

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

The relaxed yet stylish room boasts vintage chairs as its focal point. 'Early in the design process, we came across a pair of vintage lounge chairs which are currently in the sitting room,' says Joan. 'I purchased them without a specific client in mind because the proportions and silhouette were too good to pass up. 

'When we decided that a circular table with four surrounding chairs would work best in this space, we asked our upholsterer if he could make two copies.'

beach house white living room with blue armchairs

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

Joan adds: 'The chairs were the perfect solution. We mixed in quite a bit of vintage and custom to warm up the new construction and work best with the generous proportions of the rooms. 

'Most of the items we used to style the bookcases, surfaces and walls were collected objects as opposed to new.'


beach house in New Jersey white kitchen

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

The coastal kitchen remained in the same general location but was updated to include multiple seating areas for the owner's growing family, a butler’s pantry, a full-size mudroom, and a useful powder room in addition to multiple points of access to the back deck.

white kitchen in beach house in New Jersey

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

The white kitchen is clear and crisp, with character-filled elements added through Zellige tiles, brass hardware and fittings, and rustic baskets and ceramics.

'The client was clear on her vision for a light, airy, timeless palette,' says Joan.

Breakfast dining nook, banquette kitchen seating

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

The kitchen also features a chic banquette dining area – a sociable spot that perfectly suits the laidback feel of the house.

Dining room

neutral dining room with wooden chandelier pendants

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

Set just off the hallway, the dining room can seat 14 and utilizes oversized wooden chandeliers to create design focal points in the space.


coastal style bedroom

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

The home has eight bedrooms, all decorated in the modern coastal style and color palette.

white bedroom with rattan headboard

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

white bedroom with rattan headboard

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

Contemporary additions, like brass fittings and rattan headboards, add textural interest.


marble bathroom in coastal beach house

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

'We especially love the primary bath, crisp and serene with ocean views from two sides,' says Joan. 

carrara marble bathroom with large marble shower and brass fittings

(Image credit: Kirsten Francis Photography)

'We designed a custom honed Carrara floor pattern, which added the perfect amount of visual interest to the space.'

Interior design: J Patryce Design

Contributing Editor

Ruth Doherty is an experienced digital writer and editor specializing in interiors, travel and lifestyle. With 20 years of writing for national sites under her belt, she’s worked for the likes of, Standard, Ideal Home, Stylist and Marie Claire as well as Homes & Gardens.