Outer Banks Beach House | Roulez Magazine

May 12, 2019 By ktoms

In the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the lifestyle is relaxed and easy. Interior design of area homes is equally laid back and casual, providing space for socialization and enjoyment of the picturesque natural setting. We sat down with Outer Banks interior designer Amy Hilliker Klebitz to gain insight into what makes an island home quintessentially OBX, while learning more about the lifestyle residents enjoy here.

Island Designer

Amy is lean and outdoorsy. You can tell she excels at sports and enjoys being in the sunshine. She has a warm demeanor and seems to love talking about her chosen field of interior design, maybe just as much as it seems she enjoys running and surfing.

“I most love the psychology of design and helping clients to understand how arrangements and clutter affect the people living in that space,” Amy explained.

Amy seems at ease in her life in the Outer Banks. The certified and licensed interior designer graduated from East Carolina University. She then made her way to Miami, where she worked for a high-end design firm for three years. There she was able to enjoy working for clients with large budgets and highly defined yet individual taste.

During the economic crash of 2010, Amy returned to the islands off North Carolina where she was raised. It was not a purposefully permanent move. But meeting her future husband Dave here made the temporary decision more happily long term. Now the couple enjoys an active lifestyle with their four legged children, Dave as an engineer and Amy within her craft.

Summer Rentals and Permanent Residences

Anyone who has been in this region during summer knows that it is a haven for visitors from Virginia up to New York and westward as far as Illinois and Missouri. Visitor license plates outnumber those of locals during the high season. Traffic can become quite heavy, particularly where roadways are only two lanes and must be driven carefully at low speed due to pedestrians, bicyclists and an occasional wild horse.

Amy explained how the Outer Banks are laid out, in regard to resort areas for visitors and neighborhoods for long-term residents.

“Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo are communities where more year-round residents live. Duck, Corolla and similar towns are where vacation rentals dominate. Each of those types of homes – year-round and vacation rentals – have slightly different elements of design and decor,” she said.

Amy differentiated the decor of the two types of homes by saying, “Year-round residents go more for their own style and taste, rather than just sticking to a beach theme. Elements of the outdoors are still present, but not as clearly as in a vacation rental. A good way to describe the decor differences is to say that rentals around here are usually decorated with a rustic or vintage beach theme. Permanent residences have more of a rustic or vintage cottage decor.”

This is a subtle difference, that of vintage beach decor versus vintage cottage. But it makes sense. Cottage furnishings can be more upscale, richer, more intricately styled. Beach style furnishings and accents are generally more casual and less detailed in design, better suited for the rough living rental homes experience through frequent guest turnover.

As for their similarities, she said, “Both types of houses have the reverse floor plan you see in beach homes. The kitchen and living room are on the second floor to take advantage of views. Both rentals and year-round houses typically go with an organic and natural decor bringing elements of the beach into the home.”

Regardless of whether homes are permanent year-round dwellings or temporary residences rented by the week, there are some things common to most. According to Amy these are sisal rugs, touches of coral and sea life as accents, organic and natural fibers, rocking and Adirondack chairs, layered window treatments to shield from glaring sun, wood floors and glass accessories.

Check out Chez Roulez’ feature of Outer Banks Lifestyle decor elements to bring seaside living of North Carolina into your own home.

As for home exteriors, the preferred coastal style of this region is that of cedar shakes with a forest green roof and white trim. Outdoor touches include an outdoor shower, woven hammock, water treatments and, of course, wind chimes.

Outer Banks Style, Anywhere

If the Outer Banks is where your best vacation memories were formed and living a casual lifestyle suits you, bringing elements of Nags Head, Duck, Corolla or Rodanthe into your home decor is not difficult. Amy provides the most common decorative touches and design elements of this beautiful seaside region on the following pages, so you can enjoy Outer Banks relaxation wherever you live.

Simply click through pages at the bottom right to see Amy Hilliker Klebitz’ Outer Banks beach house style and design recommendations.

Photos by James Jackson with supplementation by Kimberly Toms.

Interior Paint

For interior paint colors, interior designer Amy Hilliker Klebitz recommends Sherwin Williams’ Seaside Retreat colors of their Designer Expressions line. Visitors to the Outer Banks tend to stay in rental homes using more vibrant colors, such as blues and greens. Year-round residents generally opt for neutral tones such as those in this collection, accenting with brighter and deeper hues for furnishings and accessories.

Home Exteriors

The exterior of quality seaside homes of the Outer Banks are often covered with light toned cedar shakes. Amy points out that the traditional roof of this region is forest green and trim is often white. More modern beach houses quickly constructed for the rental market tend toward siding. If you’re interested in authenticity and true North Carolina island appeal, cedar shakes are the way to go.

Bath and Shower

An Outer Banks bath or shower usually features a tile surround, a body sprayer and – for the tub – whirlpool jets.

This featured bathroom incorporates other elements common to beachfront living without overwhelming. Those elements include images of seashells, cool hues of blue, and glass and stone accents.

Some showers feature rain shower heads for a light spray often most comforting to sun-kissed skin.

Outdoor showers are, of course, utilitarian and simple unfinished wood. Those are used for quick removal of sand which tends to be easily tracked into homes after time spent on the beach.

Wood Accents Everywhere

Custom and traditional beach homes feature wood throughout, according to Amy Hilliker Klebitz. Stairs, floors, window frames, furnishings and other touches are often finished wood. The presence of so much of this natural element helps to bring nature inside the home. Reclaimed finishes and furnishings are also popular, reminiscent of driftwood and eras gone by.

This beachfront dwelling features plenty of beautiful hardwood and, in keeping with the standard style of this region, provides a tiled entry where residents and visitors can shake off the sand and dampness typical to beachfront living.


A design trend regaining traction, according to Amy Hilliker Klebitz, is that of wallpaper. This seaside bath is an excellent example of how a subtle wallpaper print is used in a bathroom to provide interest for the eye, while keeping the light, airy ambiance of an oceanfront home.

With so many guests coming and going through a typical beach house bathroom, wallpaper is easy to keep clean and almost equally easy to rejuvenate within a space through quick application of a new print.

Cool, Cottony and Crisp

Beach house bedrooms are simply decorated with cottony soft textures and downy richness. This bedroom provides good examples of the common use of wood in oceanfront home decor, as well as the choice of a cool yet sunny wall color as a base for the room’s decor.

Room with a View

Sea grass, rattan, wood and cottony fabrics come together in this reading nook to provide a comfy space for inner peace. According to Klebitz, reading nooks are a common attribute of beachfront homes. Plants, a tropical flower and area rug soften the space and add some visual warmth. Wood tones and beach blues and greens combine well with a neutral base palette for furnishings and wall color.

Family Style Dining

Beach houses are social centers for those lucky enough to own or rent the space. Guests are frequent, particularly in warm weather months. Both year round residents and summer renters enjoy large feasts of seafood and fresh farm market fare of the Outer Banks. This type of cuisine is best served family-style, on a large table with plenty of seating and – of course – ocean views. This arrangement is common to OBX lifestyle, a reclaimed wood table with woven rattan seating. Simple styling provides casual comfort where the seascapes hold so much visual appeal.

Colorful Gathering

Another example of beach house dining arrangement, this residence provides colorful accents with seating for twelve. Although a 12-seat table may sound large to most households, there is an adage here which holds true: Build a beach house and they will come.

Leafy green potted bamboo softens a corner and kitchen countertops gleam with a typical surface of granite. Marble and Corian are other popular kitchen surfaces here, where fresh cuisine holds high value at every mealtime. Lighting reminiscent of past era dock lamps and simple touches of blue ensure the seaside aesthetic is subtly present.

Soft, Bold and Reclaimed

Although boldly colored, cushiony and softly comfortable, this living space is still consistent with Outer Banks beachfront dwellings. Brushed twill and cotton coverings are cool and inviting on hot days when skin may be sensitive after sun exposure. A neutrally colored sofa is easy on the eye against equally neutral wall color within the sunny, glaring room.

Bold accents provide interest and depth to the room. Perhaps more subtle are the beachy touches of reclaimed wood furnishings, a lamp constructed from reclaimed wood shutters, woven seagrass basket drawers in the shelving unit and – just out of view – sailing-inspired art pieces on reclaimed  wood.

Beach homes can be colorful. Nowhere is it written that only blues and greens can be used to decorate in authentic seaside style.

Beach Elements on Display

This simple shelving unit is a good example of the accents one would find in an Outer Banks beach home. According to Amy Hilliker Klebitz, elements of the outdoors are brought inside seaside residences as standard decor. Sea bird carvings, sea shells, starfish, grasses, reeds, and other marine life accessories are easy to incorporate and instantly bring relaxation inherent in coastal living to those who gaze upon them.

Even this shelving unit is reminiscent of shipping crate construction and dock piling wood finish.