Beach Cottage Bargain Decorating

HGTV Magazine found this carefree beach cottage, loaded with the best deals under the sun.
By: Kathleen Renda and Jennifer Berno DeCleene

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Lisa Romerein (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Junk Never Looked So Good

A gung-ho antiquer, Mary Kay Andrews has braved dust-choked attics, swampy cellars, and cobwebbed toolsheds in pursuit of secondhand steals. But even this champion rummager had her dollar-stretching skills tested when she and husband Tom Trocheck purchased a dingy 1932 cottage on Tybee Island, GA, in 2013. With more than 2,000 square feet to furnish and fix up—and a desire to stick to a budget—Mary Kay, a best-selling author of feel-good beach reads, used all her scavenging smarts to transform the dated home into a laid-back seaside retreat.

Raised Cottage

Now filled with upcycled treasures and rehabbed castoffs, it’s ideal for mellow family vacations —and banging out her next page-turner. “I get inspired when I write here,” she says. “My books feature plucky women reinventing themselves, and there’s always a happy ending. And that’s the story of this house.” Bonus: It's just 75 yards from the Atlantic Ocean.

Porch

Mary Kay’s most jaw-dropping bargain: a 1930s collapsible walnut camp cot that she nabbed for just $10 at an estate sale. Cozied up with mattress-ticking pillows and bolsters, it’s a favorite spot for midday naps and doing puzzles with the grandkids. The mismatched rattan chairs, found at an estate sale, have identical cushions sewn from an awning-striped fabric from Warehouse Fabrics, so they look like a set.

Porch Dining

The pine table, snatched up at an Atlanta bookstore’s going-out-of-business sale, has sentimental value for Mary Kay: She once did book signings at it. Teamed with an oak church pew that came with the house and 1940s chairs with new fabric cushions from Ballard Designs, it turns a sunny part of the porch into a cheerful dining area for six—with ocean views. The olive-basket pendant light is an original that Tom created.

Living Room

For an airy island vibe, the living room’s board-and-batten paneling was painted crisp scallop-shell white (Parchment White by Glidden). The neutral walls serve as a backdrop for a rotating collection of inexpensive, casually propped waterscapes and the deep blue of the sofa Mary Kay found on Craigslist. She scored the 16-yard bolt of upholstery-grade denim used to cover it for $25 at an estate sale. The round walnut coffee table is a hand-me-down freebie—it’s the kitchen table from Mary Kay’s girlhood home cut down to 21 inches tall.

Kitchen

In the remodeled kitchen, one-of-a-kind finds—a vintage cast-iron farmhouse sink and a 1950s supermarket sign—downplay the newness of the cabinets, granite counters, and subway tile backsplash. Also adding character: a battered Oriental rug Mary Kay purchased years ago and squirreled away. The café curtains are sewn out of cotton fabric from IKEA, and the throwback blue pendant is from Barn Light Electric.   

Dining Room

By keeping most of the dining room as is—the table, side chairs, and Sunbeam sign were included in the sale of the house—Mary Kay could splurge on a metal chandelier from a Circa Lighting warehouse sale. “Its size balances out the 9-foot ceilings,” she says. Updated with blue-and-white buffalo-check slipcovers, armchairs from a hotel furniture resale store could pass for brand-new.

Dining Room

It’s a look-alike of a highly collectible (and pricey) wool swimming costume, but the framed one-piece is actually a 1970s polyester bathing suit. “I found it at an antiques shop while I was on a book tour in Ohio,” says Mary Kay. A carved oak buffet that’s original to the house feels less fussy thanks to rustic lamps made from 1940s hand-crank metal ice cream churns unearthed on eBay.

Master Bedroom

A four-poster Ethan Allen bed found on Craigslist repeats the color of the en suite bathroom’s black claw-foot tub and vanity. To beachify the salvaged bench, Mary Kay painted it white and stapled on red-and-white-striped fabric. The stain-hiding 1940s rug came from an estate sale, and the bed skirt and matching curtains are sewn from $7-a-yard fabric from Warehouse Fabrics.

Master Bathroom

A mirror described on Craigslist as a “Harry Potter looking glass” got Mary Kay’s thrifting radar pinging, especially when the listing turned out to be for an ornately carved Victorian stunner. Since the house came with the black-and-white vanity, tub, and floor tiles, she kept the color combo going with a ruffled-bottom Pottery Barn shower curtain.

Guest Bedroom

Part nautical, part Americana, the ground level guest bedroom includes a hanging light Tom crafted from a vintage minnow trap, a striped poultry feed grain sack that’s hung like artwork, and oversize maritime maps thumbtacked to the wall. The no-cost twin bed, gifted to Mary Kay by a girlfriend, is dressed with a quilt from HomeGoods and a patriotic Old Glory pillow sham.

Guest Bedroom

Painted white (Parchment White by Glidden), the twin beds found on Craigslist and the estate sale dresser don’t compete with the bedroom’s richly grained paneling. The rest of the room is done in country-meets-beach hues of red, white, and blue.