July 3, 2019

12 Bright and Modern Beach Houses

Escape to these bright and modern beach houses, from Montauk to Chile. We wish we were at any one of them right now—don’t you? This showcase of modern beach houses convey the epitome of coastal elegance. Architectural marvels seamlessly marries contemporary luxury with ocean-inspired tranquility. Every detail of these modern beach houses, from the expansive living spaces to the thoughtfully curated furnishings, reflects a harmonious blend of modern design and coastal charm.

[Editor’s note: this story was updated in December, 2023 to reflect more must-see seaside homes.]

1. A Malibu Marvel by Oppenheim Architecture

The main bedroom of a modern beach house

Nestled on Malibu’s Escondido Beach, this modern beach house by Chad Oppenheim, the visionary architect behind Oppenheim Architecture, stands as the epitome of contemporary coastal living. Boasting a crisp white tri-level design, this 7,160-square-foot residence captures the architect’s commitment to dematerialization and seamless indoor-outdoor living. With sweeping views of the sea and coastline, the residence features a 74-foot-long retractable glass front on the main level, creating a fluid connection to the terrace and garden. Using materials like travertine, oak, and mineral plaster, and adorned with crisp white furnishings, this dream beach house embodies the cool coastal lifestyle. Read more about the project

2. A Contemporary Beach House With Modernist Allure

in a contemporary beach house's living room sits a fireplace clad with acid-blasted silver travertine

In the heart of Manhattan Beach, Southern California, Montalba Architects crafts a stunning 6,000-square-foot contemporary residence that defies the typical density of ocean-adjacent homes in the area. Spread across three floors, this architectural gem showcases Montalba’s mastery in sculpting spaces with natural light. The innovative design centers around a double-height courtyard, providing a seamless connection to the sky and creating a sense of openness. The ground level features a screened garden entry, guest room, expansive gym, and a spacious garage. The second level, accessed via an exterior stairway, unveils the primary ensuite bedroom and home offices. The third floor, dedicated to living spaces, captures abundant daylight and offers a distant view of breaking waves. Montalba’s modernist touch is evident in the minimal finishes, white oak flooring, and curated furnishings by contemporary designers like Finn Juhl and Rodolfo Dordoni. The vertical garden and lap pool enhance the outdoor living experience, creating a harmonious blend of sophistication and coastal tranquility in this Manhattan Beach masterpiece. Read more about the project

3. Bates Masi + Architects Conceives of a Beach House in Long Island That Pays Homage to its Surroundings

Bates Masi and Architects Beach house

Talk about hyper-local: Stony Hill, a 6,300-square-foot family residence on Long Island, draws from the history of the land it stands on. The site was once Native American hunting grounds and later used as communal pasture for early settlers. Firm principal and Interior Design Hall of Fame member Paul Masi conceived the architecture and surrounding landscape to honor and celebrate that agrarian history. Read more about the project

4. Surf House by Commune Design and Feldman Architecture: 2020 Best of Year Winner

Surf house living room by Commune Design and Feldman Architecture

“A professor who surfs” was the design conceit for a modern beach house overlooking one of California’s best spots to hang ten. Jonathan Feldman, founding principal of Feldman Architecture, joined forces with Commune Design principal Roman Alonso to create a nuanced, sustainable building that eschews seen-it-all-before seaside tropes. Read more about the project

5. Architect Scott Glass Uses Unfinished Cypress Cladding on His Hamptons Weekend Home

a cypress clad beach home

Many people come to own a vacation home by renting for years and falling in love with a particular place. That’s the way New York City residents Scott Glass and family became smitten with the East End of Long Island, particularly its most unspoiled enclaves, and the fantasy of establishing a permanent retreat there grew ever stronger for them. Read more about the project

6. Lauren Rottet Reinvents a Montauk Beach House

a Montauk beach house with a lap pool

Born, bred, and based in Texas, Lauren Rottet wields a global sphere of influence. The Hall of Famer and founding principal of Houston’s Rottet Studio—which now has offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Shanghai—is a self-described workaholic. Her projects and products have garnered innumerable awards. Yet even this chronic overachiever needs a place to chill now and then. Read more about the project

7. Max Núñez Arquitectos Embraces the Topography in an Avant-Garde Beach House

the exterior of an avant-garde beach house with modern architecture

Building a house with Max Núñez is like climbing a peak in the Andes with a seasoned guide. The summit looms and the rocky terrain feels treacherous to the novice, but the leader inspires enough confidence that hikers suddenly take real risks, no longer worried about a fall. That was certainly the case for the owners of a property in Cachagua, Chile, a remarkable but precarious Pacific bluff with a 25-degree pitch. Like an expedition leader, Núñez encouraged his clients to go bold and tackle the topography head-on. Read more about the project

8. Kingdom of Light: A Modern Beach House in Scotland

the living room of a modern beach house in Scotland

Replacing a clunky 1970s bungalow in Elie—a harbor town in a part of Scotland traditionally known as the Kingdom of Fife—the 3,000-square-foot house’s straightforward form was designed to pay tribute to “the big, pale, southern sky,” WT Architecture principal William Tunnell says. In the main wing, the downstairs centers on an open living-dining area with a window wall that frames views of the Firth of Forth, a lighthouse, and Edinburgh on the opposite coast. “As the tide flows in and out, colors reflect off the golden beach and the water,” Tunnell says. To capture those reflections, he rendered everything inside “as clean and simple as possible,” he says. Read more about the project

9. Ghislaine Viñas Brings Signature Flair to Hamptons Summer House

a bright and airy dining room in a Hamptons beach house

Ghislaine Viñas would like to set the record straight. “People always say to me, ‘Oh, you love color,’” the Dutch-born designer explains in a cadence that betrays her South African upbringing. “But the truth is, I can only use color against white; it’s white that enables me to play.” Bright-on-white is certainly the thesis of a 10-bedroom summer home Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design completed in Montauk, the tony surf mecca on the tip of New York’s Long Island. Read more about the project

10. Bauhaus-Style Cape Cod House Gets A Guesthouse by Hariri & Hariri

a Cape Cod guest house with beach views

Geographically exquisite Provincetown, Massachusetts, is a thin strip of low-rise buildings at the curved tip of Cape Cod. Few houses are more than two blocks from the harbor. At the far end of town, on a dune facing a salt marsh and a mile-long stone breakwater, stands a masterwork of 20th-century architecture—and its young cousin by Interior Design Hall of Fame members Gisue and Mojgan Hariri. Read more about the project

11. Hamptons Beach Cabin by Harry Bates and Paul Masi 

a contemporary beach house on a small plot

Building in the Hamptons has required and to brave a variety of quagmires. But a 600-square-foot beach cabin in Amagansett, New York, deserves special mention for difficulty in inverse proportion to size. That’s because the ¼-acre lot, an investment property left vacant for decades, was ultimately declared to be in a protected wetland, and the owners had to undertake extensive negotiations to make even the smallest building possible. Ultimately, a legal judgment allowed Bates + Masi Architects to construct on a footprint of 15 by 20 feet. Even more challenging, the structure had to be more than 6 feet above-grade but not more than 25 feet tall. Read more about the project

12. Walker Warner Architects and Philpotts Interiors Perfect a Kona Coast Compound

a cozy guest room in a Hawaii beach house

Given a truly spectacular oceanfront site on Hawaii’s Big Island—set along an ancient footpath, atop a hardened lava flow, with views of sky, sun, and water for days—you would think that the design teams of Walker Warner Architects and Philpotts Interiors could just lay back and chill. How could you screw it up? A hut would nearly suffice. Turns out it took nearly three years to perfect a Kona Coast vacation home on just such a plot for a couple based in Portland, Oregon. The clients’ wait was rewarded with spectacular results. Read more about the project

Looking for more beach house inspiration? See the latest modern beach houses featured in Interior Design here.

See more: 25 Modern Pool Designs Around the World

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