Whether you’re looking for a peaceful spot to escape and recharge or a retreat for hosting friends and family during long weekends and holidays, a beach house is the perfect place to unwind. But while an oceanfront vacation home might seem effortless in its appearance, nailing the perfect mix of style and comfort involves a lot more than just picking up a few nautical-themed accents.
For insight on how to get it right, we turned to the incredible Gumelemi Bluff Harbour Estate, a four-bedroom, 3,100-square-foot oasis that’s tucked into the most exclusive corner of Harbour Island in the Bahamas (and currently on the market for $5.75 million through Sotheby’s International Realty).
With direct beach access and stunning views of the area’s famous bonefish flats—plus luxurious amenities like a freshwater pool, a double golf-cart garage, and a serene outdoor shower off the master suite—the house manages to balance all the perks of modern-day pampering with a strong sense of Bahamian hospitality.
Inspired by the impressive property, here are five ways to turn every beach house into the most relaxing, serene place on earth.
Decorate with tropical plants and flowers
Giving guests a warm welcome means offering them a visual sigh of relief before they even step through the front door. Lush green foliage and bright bursts of tropical flora can help set the tone for a memorable stay, transforming a boring entrance into a lively backdrop and instantly signaling your brain to switch to vacation mode.
Gumelemi Bluff Harbour Estate is lucky to be swathed in verdant palms and ferns, but if your beach house isn’t located in an equatorial climate, vibrant potted plants and evergreens will also do the trick. Place a few neon-hued hibiscus blooms in a rustic urn on your living room’s coffee table, and opt for smaller pockets of color on windowsills, mantels, or bookshelves.
Design an airy breakfast nook
An intimate breakfast nook invites you to slow down and live your best life—one meal at a time. After all, you’re on vacation now.
For all the benefits of al fresco dining with none of the squinting, choose a sunlit corner of the kitchen, preferably one surrounded by expansive windows or sliding doors that allow gentle breezes to waft in, and keep furnishings light and airy to avoid weighing down the room.
A Lucite pedestal table and Chippendale chairs let sunlight bounce around the space, and a classic seersucker tablecloth adds subtle seaside color and pattern without overpowering the tablescape.
Organic textures—a jute rug, a seagrass fruit basket, and rattan dishware, ideally topped with a fresh local pastry like the Guava Duff pictured here—bring the casual elegance of the outdoors inside, while gauzy curtains or woven wood shades ensure the beach always stays in view.
Create a shady outdoor entertaining space
To extend the good times of an endless beach day, create a covered outdoor lounge and entertaining space where you can enjoy everything from late afternoon cocktails to evenings spent stargazing while dining al fresco.
Choose all-weather furnishings in a neutral hue to keep the natural surroundings in the spotlight, but throw in some punchy pillows and cushions to play up the tropical beach house vibe. A natural fiber rug anchors the space and adds coziness underfoot, and indoor-friendly accessories like lamps and houseplants bring the homey feel of a traditional living room outdoors.
Finish this space off with pieces for easy entertaining: a tray that lets you bring tableware outside for a low-key dinner, a pitcher for crowd-pleasing batches of daiquiris or margaritas, and a stately hurricane lantern for flattering evening ambiance.
Keep bedrooms breezy
Is there anything more soothing than the sound of waves crashing at night? To create an inviting beach house bedroom that takes its cues from the surrounding elements, ditch the noisy air conditioning units and opt for doors and windows flung open to let in the ocean’s breezes. Add a palm-leaf ceiling fan to safeguard against unseasonably warm temperatures.
As for your bed linens, lose the formal duvet and keep sheets casual with diaphanous white linens. Do away with rigid hospital corners, which can feel too stuffy in a vacation home, and lean into the look of a perfectly undone bed. Complete the scene with a pair of sconces to provide a warm glow for late-night reading in bed.
Take your shower outside
An outdoor shower isn’t just a luxury—it’s a beach house necessity. It keeps sand and salt outside where they belong and helps speed up the post-swim, pre-dinner grooming process when you’ve got a house full of visitors. And, practicality aside, who could argue against the sheer decadence of showering outdoors on a warm summer day?
If your outdoor shower isn’t graced with the generous proportions and natural stone accents of the one at Gumelemi Bluff Harbour Estate, you can elevate the space by upgrading the hardware to a rain-shower head, adding a small stool to house local botanical soaps and natural sponges, and tucking a basket stocked with graphic Turkish cotton or linen towels nearby.
And finally, don’t underestimate the power of a fringe of tropical foliage peeking over the top of the stall to evoke the feeling of a secluded jungle retreat.