Brooke Steuart's family room has woven-grass club chairs, a low pedestal table and a view of the ocean.
Steuart established her decorating business seven years ago and works out of a studio in Calvert County, where she grew up. At about the same time, she built the 4,500-square-foot beach house “from scratch.” Steuart knew exactly what she wanted and proceeded to design the house herself “from the inside out.” “I wanted a breath of fresh air, relaxation, color, stimulation,” she says. “I wanted it to affect all your senses.” Beach colors ranging from light sand to taupe are enhanced by “a multitude of blue hues,” including walls painted a delectable shade of aqua that responds to the ambient daylight. “I want you to feel like you’re in the sky,” she says.
The expansive house has interconnected indoor and outdoor spaces.
Furnishings lean to natural woven grasses and linens. Floors are mostly bare white oak. An occasional calibrated blast of orange breaks through the decorative calm. The master bedroom is painted chocolate brown on all four walls and periwinkle blue on the ceiling.
“I really embrace color,” Steuart says. “It makes you feel rejuvenated. In this sometimes gray world, you work hard, then you go there and can relax hard.”
The home’s levels are organized by function. The children’s loft on the fourth floor can sleep 10 under a big ceiling fan amid tropical posters in lacquered white frames. The third level is reserved for living and dining spaces under two grand peaks in the roof. The master bedroom and four guest rooms are arrayed beneath, with services and garage space on the ground level.
Mosquito netting surrounds a queen-size chaise.
Broad decks extend the width of the house on the second and third floors, giving residents maximum appreciation of the setting, which is just a quick stroll down a sandy path to the shore.
It was important to Steuart that rooms would flow from one to another, a helpful quality when the residence was opened for the 2007 Coastal Library Bay Cottage Tour
A sitting room with linen privacy curtains doubles as a kids?hideaway.
“Each room has its own flavor,” she says, noting that the master bedroom has a gas fireplace tiled with mother of pearl and a mantel finished in silver leaf.
The centerpiece of the main living floor is a spacious family room with 12-foot ceilings, a fireplace and what Steuart refers to as her “conversation pit.” The pit is more like an alcove overlooking the ocean with club chairs to draw guests for morning coffee or games at night.
The dining room boasts a custom artisan-crafted table, from Roberta Schilling Brazilian collection.
The furnishings take their cue mostly from the environment, but there are surprises. Steuart favors hand-painted, artisan-crafted wood furniture from Brazil. The dining table, breakfast bar stools and bedroom suite come from the Roberta Schilling collection; it is one of many lines that Steuart carries in her studio.
The dining room is lighted by artful but restrained crystal chandeliers. “I try to mix elements,” says Steuart. “I think it’s lovely to feel grounded but to look up and see the sparkle—like the sparkle of the ocean.”
and close to 2,000 people walked through. She also wanted a clear visual line, so that whether a visitor is seated on the deck or going up the stairs, the view is carefully orchestrated for maximum impact.