From Dump to Dreamy Beach House

A husband-and-wife team of weekend remodelers transformed a run-down cottage into a beachside getaway. See the amazing photos featured in HGTV Magazine.

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Alexandra Rowley

Tranquil Transformation

Lisa Marie Brooks, a real estate agent, and her husband, Scott, a commercial airline pilot and builder, know potential: Together they've built or renovated 25 homes in three states, most of which they've resold. \"This house actually had a lot of pros,\" says Lisa Marie of the 2,000-square-foot bungalow. \"A pitched roof and a sunroom with lots of windows, plus great big oak trees all around.\" Now the fixer-upper is their home for good. Says Lisa Marie, \"No chance we're selling this one anytime soon.\"

Courtesy of the homeowner

Before the Remodel

To most people, the shabby shack with its worn-out siding, cracked windows, and overgrown lawn looked like a condemned shed. But to the Brookses, the little house in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., was a hidden gem that just needed a bit — OK, a lot — of polishing. They bought it through short sale for $270,000, a drastic reduction from the onetime asking price of $900,000, without even seeing the interior in person. The overhaul cost about $120,000 and took a year to complete.

Courtesy of the homeowner

Living Room: Before

Instead of replacing the dated oak built-in, the Brookses saved money by removing the doors and painting it white (Alabaster by Sherwin-Williams). They also tore out the old wood-burning stove and installed a ventless fireplace. \"We did a ton of work, but in the end, we felt like, gosh, it doesn't get any better than this,” says Lisa Marie.

Alexandra Rowley

Living Room: After

The wall that surrounds the new fireplace was made by setting real seashells and starfish in plaster of Paris. The sectional sofa is covered with durable white denim fabric, and the shag rug feels about as soft as the white sand outside.

Alexandra Rowley


Before the remodel, this space off the living room, which leads to the back deck, didn't show off the pretty view of the Choctawhatchee Bay. So the Brookses installed French doors with trapezoid-shaped windows above them. Problem solved. Outdoor party supplies are stowed inside the storage benches that are covered with linen cushions and throw pillows.

Alexandra Rowley

Dining Room

When they bought the house, it had plywood on the ground instead of floors. Lisa Marie wanted hardwood throughout the home. \"I think hardwood stands up better over time than prefabricated floors. We went with an inexpensive wood — pine — and had it stained ebony,\" she says. The dining table and rattan and wooden chairs, all from Restoration Hardware, are beachy and casual.

Courtesy of the homeowner

Kitchen: Before

A half wall in the middle of the old kitchen and barely any counter space made for an awkward layout, not to mention unsightly linoleum flooring and shoddy cabinets. Lisa Marie and Scott did a lot of restructuring, knocking down walls and reconfiguring doors.

Alexandra Rowley

Kitchen: After

The new space has a peninsula with a cooktop and space to sit, as well as marble countertops that Lisa Marie bought for a discount from a stone remnants distributor. The cabinets are made with affordable maple. \"If you're using wood like this, mix in a few glass-front doors so your cabinets don't look too heavy,\" says Lisa Marie. The backsplash from Home Depot came in 1-foot-by-1-foot sheets of travertine and blue glass tiles in a block pattern.

Alexandra Rowley

Outdoor Deck

Nearly every door in the house leads to the wraparound deck, which the entire family (son, Logan, 12; and pet Lab-mix, Buddy, included) uses all year. \"We have coffee at this table almost every morning, and we've thrown parties with 60 people out here,\" Lisa Marie says. Since the deck is uncovered, Scott coated it with wood protector by One Time to help keep it from weathering.

Alexandra Rowley

Added Space for Easy Living

Lisa Marie and Scott added 900 square feet of wooden decks, boosting their home's size by 50 percent. \"Living on the water motivates us to slow down and chill out, \" she says.

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