Kitchen on the Half Shell

Waterfront living inspires a laid-back lifestyle, but that doesn't mean there aren't certain issues to consider when cooking up your coastal kitchen.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionThe Stavros kitchen was planned with design and function in mind.
Whether your home on the water is palatial like the Stavros' mansion or a tiny 800-square-foot condo, experts say to choose kitchen elements with both lifestyle and climate in mind. Waterside living brings lots of things to your table besides seafood. A casual lifestyle, not to mention dampness, salt air, sand and fishy smells, create different challenges in kitchen design.

Duval B. Acker, ASID, Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., near Charleston, says not to forget what inspired you to buy on the water in the first place.

"People are normally in a relaxation mode, and don't want to work too hard," says Duval. "Smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces that don't show every little thing are best for counters, cabinets, floors and even walls."

Duval suggests avoiding materials that might rust or harbor dirt. This isn't the place for delicate wall coverings or care-intensive countertops. Flat paint, cabinets with intricate carving or door designs, grouted tile countertops and surfaces like marble that water spot don't belong in a seaside kitchen. Instead, opt for aluminum, laminates and man-made quartz. Glass rules as Duval's personal favorite. She recommends it for everything from tiles to backsplashes and says that a slab of thick, tempered glass at the breakfast bar or pass-through has a contemporary look that's both durable and easy to clean.

Also remember that hot summer months mean constant treks to the refrigerator. Invest in a top-of-the-line ice maker and consider a second fridge outdoors to cut down on trips inside.