Best Floor Plans for the Beach

Posted by Jodi Peters on Saturday, September 28th, 2019 at 7:08am.

barefoot beach kitchen

Cinnamon Shore Architects Share Tips

Great floor plans at the beach start with imagination. They start as architects and designers envision, along with clients, how spaces will be used.

If you're building from the ground up, they imagine with you how the home will be used not by just anyone, but by you and your family.

If they're designing for the beach, they spend a lot of time thinking about the elements, including the view corridors to the water. "A lot of the decisions are very site specific," says Jim Kissling, whose firm, Kissling Architecture, has designed 40 or more homes at Cinnamon Shore. "You have breezes, the way the sun hits it, to consider. Is the view an east or west orientation? All those things come into play."

beach view cinnamon shore


Another Cinnamon Shore architect, Bill Allison of Allison Ramsey Architects, says that beyond the plan details, the home design must come back to the overall purpose of a beach house. "The important part, again, is that the house serves as a family gathering space, a vacation destination, and a place for relaxation and recreation," Bill says, adding that it often must work for multi-generations.

Jim and Bill shared their thoughts on key components you should think about when assessing the livability of an existing beach home that's for sale or working with a design pro on the floor plan for your own coastal dream home.

Overall Organization

One of the first floor-plan decisions homebuyers must make is whether to have the main living space on the first level or the second level. "We would emphasize trying to make sure as many of the active living spaces have a view towards the water, including bedrooms," says Bill. 

Many of the existing homes at Cinnamon Shore have reverse floor plans for that very reason, with large gathering spaces on the second floor, taking advantage of the water views to the east and glimpses of the bay to the west for fantastic sunset hours from porches and decks.

Another of Jim's overall recommendations for beach home living is to create larger living gathering areas and smaller bedrooms that still feel livable. 

Open floor plans

Jim says an open plan not only accommodates larger groups, it gives the feel of more space. Even if it’s just an illusion, having the kitchen flow into the dining room and into the living room, especially below vaulted or 10- or 12-foot ceilings, gives a sense spaciousness. "Circulation within the house is important," Jim says. "The house will function better without 'dead ends' or 'people traps.'"

In a smaller vacation home, like the one below, the kitchen flows into the dining room, rather than walls dividing up the spaces into separate rooms.

 Open Floor plan cinnamon shore

Porches and outdoor living

Of course, outdoor living at a beach home is key, according to Bill. He recommends thinking about where you'll barbeque and dine outside. "We see more and more outdoor fireplaces on porches or decks/patios," he says.

In addition to must-have outdoor living spaces at the beach, porches also act as important buffer zones that shade the main structure from the sun and provide another living space, according to Jim. They help cool the home, as well. "I also use them for secondary circulation for the home," Jim adds. "They make the home live large and look great, too." Plus, he adds, "Being able to enter a room from a porch is pretty cool.

 porch swing cinnamon shore

Drop zones and mudrooms

Many of the homes at Cinnamon Shore recognize the need to dump beach gear and sort out shoes when entering the homes.

Along those lines, Jim says the goal is to minimize hall areas, which can become wasted space. Instead, use such spaces as entry drop zones with hooks, benches, and storage opportunities. "I use Victorian-era homes as inspiration in how rooms flowed into each other rather than connected by a hall," Jim says.



Mudrooms -- which you can call a sand room at the beach -- serve a similar purpose, making great transition spaces into a beach home. Jim says to put them off a porch or, if possible near an outdoor shower with a drop zone nearby. These spaces also make great places to position fixtures for washers and dryers.

And in larger homes, if you have a downstairs washer-and-dryer, consider a second set upstairs in a nook or off a master suite, so the home can accommodate multiple families.

 Adding character with attic space

"Some of the best spaces occur in the roof lines of a structure," Jim says. "Adding cupolas and dormers add to the uniqueness of these spaces, along with natural light. I have found that the views captured from these promontories are worth the effort."

Saving space with creative storage solutions

Bill Ramsey agrees storage is key, and his firm often utilizes space under an elevated home or the garage for extra storage areas. "There is a need to store beach toys, kayaks, boats, bikes and golf carts, among other things. You can never have enough storage," he says.

Using built-in storage ideas makes sense at a beach. Jim often relies on drawers in creative places instead of deep cabinets to help homeowners and guests keep things out of the way but easy to access . He recommends looking into designing drawers into bed frames. "I have found that deep cabinets with doors are hard to use," Jim says. Instead, he likes "drawers, everywhere!"

master storage drawers

Another space-saving strategy Jim recommends for second homes is to avoid walk-in closets. "They use a lot of space," he says. "Besides how much space do you need for a five-day stay? T-shirts, shorts and flip flops take up very little room. Seriously, if this is not going to be used as a primary residence you really need to evaluate your closet needs."

 Bath rooms for every guest room

Especially, with a second home that might be used as a rental property, too, it's convenient to provide each bedroom with easy access to its own bathroom, if your budget allows. And keep the details in mind, from where towel hooks are placed to providing plenty of counter space for makeup bags and hair dryers. Jim recommends at least a 6-inch wide vanity.

This Cinnamon Shore bathroom creates a focal point for the luxury tub, which also takes advantage of the water view.


Starting the process

If you're starting from scratch, Jim always starts the design process with two things as he works with clients.

First, he looks through any photos homeowners bring to him -- to get a sense of their style and preferences. Second, he sends clients home with a detailed questionnaire asking about everything from where they like to drink their coffee in the morning to how they take out the trash. He learns details like whether they recycle or if they long for a breakfast nook.

Understanding realities

And, of course, the aspirational aspects of your dream floor plan must always line up with the realities of your budget and the technical aspects of building in an environment that's hard on houses. "I don't want to kill anyone's dreams," Jim says, "but there's the romantic aspect of building a beach cottage, with open windows, but then there are the technical aspects of keeping out the humidity and  moisture."

Architects like Jim and Bill take all of that into account, turning your dream designs into realities that function well at the beach.

Call Cinnamon Shore Realty to see available floor plans!

From existing homes for resale with proven floor plans to home sites where you can imagine your own dream home, Cinnamon Shore Reality can walk you through your options!

We even have floor plans ready-to-build at our expansion Cinnamon Shore South on the Gulf-Front, Gulf-View, Park View, and Lakefront Sections! 

See the Latitude Adjustment design brochure and floor plan HERE, available for building directly on the Gulf!

See the Flip Flop Inn design brochure and floor plan HERE, for building in the second tier with Gulf Views!

Contact us today!

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