Here’s a room-by-room transformation of a 1923 Craftsman home in North Carolina’s historic coastal town of Beaufort, recently labeled the South’s best small town in 2019 by Southern Living Magazine. The Beaufort Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places, and all of Beaufort is filled with beautiful historic homes. The home we transformed is Crew Cottage on Ann Street, one block from Beaufort’s waterfront, shops, and fine dining.

When I walked into Crew Cottage, the first thing I noticed were the wonderfully tall  ceilings. It’s rare to find 10-foot ceilings in small historic homes, and both the plaster ceilings and walls were in pristine condition. They made the home feel much larger than its 1,250 square feet. We knew right away that this home had incredible potential.

Mission

Our mission was to transform the home into an irresistible vacation rental with a modern, clean, coastal feeling. The family room is the first space that you enter, so it needed to be inviting, surprising, and enticing.

Starting point

We had our work cut out for us. The family room felt small and the space felt dark. Two-inch vinyl plantation shutters hung on every window in the home and ecru paint covered the walls. The corner fireplace was red brick. The overhead chandelier was, well, charming in its day? My approach is to focus on staging strategies that will make a home appear bright, spacious, harmonious, and stylish.

BEFORE. The family room felt small with the owner’s furnishings. The flow was awkward, and the space felt dark. 

Bright

We started with fresh paint on the walls and fireplace in SW Chantilly Lace. For the color palette, I drew inspiration from Beaufort’s coastal setting—using white, sand, brown, and shades of blue throughout the home. When we opened the shutters, light flooded into the room. So, we replaced them with Pottery Barn curtains, hanging them close to the ceiling to highlight the height of the room. A Serena & Lily light jute rug lightened up the dark floors, and Pottery Barn lamps on each side table also light to the room.

Spacious

We changed the furniture arrangement to open the space up a bit and improve the flow. Our crew mounted the television to the wall above the fireplace, and we kept the seating simple, with a West Elm sleeper sofa, cream-colored chair, and two poufs. A round ottoman conveniently holds games and puzzles, and ties into the floor color.

AFTER. Bright, spacious, harmonious, and stylish. We wanted a space that’s well-balanced and has natural elements.

Harmonious

A space that’s well-balanced and has natural elements feels harmonious. The home is close to the Rachel Carson Reserve, which is a collection of five islands and a sanctuary for local mammals, marine life, and over 200 species of birds. We chose Minted photographs and paintings of things you’d see on the Reserve including driftwood, pelicans, and ponies and positioned a large plant in the corner. The jute rug, linen curtains, wooden side tables, seagrass ottoman, faux leather pillow, and wicker mirror also bring natural elements to the space. Blankets are stored in baskets from Zara Home. The driftwood anchor from McGee & Co provides another natural element that becomes a focal point, perched on the edge of the fireplace hearth.

Stylish

Although we were aiming for a classic coastal feel, we wanted the space to have a hint of city style. Beaufort Linen helped us select the Morris pendant for the center of the room, which added a stunning, sophisticated element and complimented the modern dining room chandelier. Etsy provided the swanky custom pillow covers.

I drew inspiration from Beaufort’s coastal setting—using white, sand, brown, and shades of blue throughout the home.

Tracy Huckabee

Starting Point

We had a decent starting point in the dining room. Just like the rest of the home, it has soaring ten-foot ceilings and plenty of room for a dinner party. But the furniture and rug were dark, and the overhead chandelier was too small for the space. The room features a wall of windows, but two-inch shutters and a large credenza restricted the light. We wanted to transform it from a barely-used room to the heart of the home.

BEFORE. The dining room felt gloomy. We wanted to transform it from a barely-used room to the heart of the home.

Bright

I always like to focus on light and cleanliness first when staging. A dingy space or an unorganized area can feel dirty and small, which can instantly turn off buyers or renters. We gave the walls and trim a fresh coat of SW Chantilly Lace. Honestly, white paint seems to magically make a room seem larger every time. When we removed the shutters, light filled the room, and we hung the same Pottery Barn curtains. A 48″ Crate and Barrel eight-arm chandelier (on a dimmer) directed a large amount of light up to the ceiling and we hung a mirror in the same brass finish to amplify the light. Two consignment store lamps add task lighting to the serving area.

Spacious

We removed the credenza from in front of the window and added a large buffet to the opposite wall. This provided a surface for serving as well as storage. To improve the flow of the room, we incorporated a round, 60″ table from a local furniture company, McQueen’s Interiors. Although we considered adding a rug, we decided against it for a couple of reasons: First, in a vacation rental home, keeping a dining room rug clean can be a chore. And second, not having a rug expanded the walking circumference.

AFTER. To improve the flow of the room, we incorporated a round, 60″ table from a local furniture company, McQueen’s Interiors.

Harmonious

A space that’s well-balanced and has natural elements feels harmonious. The artwork needed to be relaxing and soothing. We were thrilled to feature original art from two local artists. Natural materials are great and here we included wood, seagrass, raffia, and linen. The large fig tree and monstera leaves are artificial, but you’d never know it in photographs or in person. World Market is my go-to source for greenery. I like to play with a variety of shapes in a room, including both round and rectangular pieces.

Stylish

With all of the wooden elements in the room, it felt like it was lacking some shine and sex appeal. So I added this zesty bar cart. The exposed screws along the edges felt a bit nautical to me, but it also says “It’s five o’clock somewhere!”

This house was so much fun to stage. If you’re thinking of selling your home, please get in touch with Crew Coastal for ideas on how you can really make it stand out online and in person!