Monochromatic Tranquility

Monochromatic Tranquility

By Dylan Roche | Photography by Jennifer Hughes

Styling by Kristi Hunter



Escaping to the beach means peace and tranquility. It means simplicity. It means minimal effort and lots of relaxation. All of these concepts were at the forefront of Christopher Boutlier’s vision as he approached the interior design of a secondary home in Rehoboth Beach for a family from Washington, D.C.

“The primary idea behind it was to create a relaxing beach house that didn’t feel like a beach house,” he says. “I think a lot of times, people buy beach houses and then start overly decorating them to say, ‘Hey, you’re at the beach.’” As far as Boutlier is concerned, such coastal or nautical décor isn’t just cliché; it’s unnecessary. “You know you’re at the beach because you’re there,” he says.

Instead, Boutlier aimed to create something that could serve as a retreat away from the hectic day-to-day life for a family that just wants to relax. “We really wanted to embody that spirit in the color palette and make sure things were simple and calm,” he says.

There’s also a practical side to the simple, modern aesthetic—it minimizes the clutter, so there’s less need to spend a day cleaning upon arrival or departure. Even though the home is a few blocks inland from the beach itself, Boutlier admits it’s inevitable that sand will find its way in, making lots of furniture or delicate fabrics impractical. “You want a space that is clean, sparse even—but not so much that it’s uncomfortable,” he says.

The redesign of the existing house, spearheaded by Mike Zorzi of Zorzi Creations, involved stripping it all down to the drywall and removing everything from the kitchen appliances to the floor and the windows. The layout of the rooms remained the same, but everything else served as a blank potential for plenty of creative design.

Boutlier used a primarily monochromatic color scheme throughout the house—lots of cool grays against simple black and white accents. Shades range from silvery tones to a slightly warmer gray (resembling lavender) to deep charcoal. “The goal with the color palette was to keep everything calm and monochromatic,” Boutlier says.

The gray plays nicely off two big expansive windows that look out onto abundant greenery during the summer and spring. “Gray is always a nice complement to green,” Boutlier explains.

In addition to the natural greenery, the space draws warmth from what Boutlier describes as a “delicate balance” of wood pieces made by David Iatesta. The wood pops against the black, white, and gray, creating layers and depth.

The kitchen’s design, as envisioned by Julia Jensen of Boffi Georgetown, offers subtle character through a mix of materials and finishes. Though appearing a simple white from far away, the cabinets are a light wood whitewashed with paint, revealing texture when viewed up close. The kitchen’s island boasts a light oak finish, and the marble countertops give warmth to the open space.

Jensen explains the layout of the kitchen changed slightly with the removal of an exterior door, originally to one side of the refrigerator. Removing the door and flanking the cooking area with tall cabinets brings symmetry to the kitchen, creating an overall more sophisticated look. “It’s a totally different kind of balanced value to the overall design, and it gave them a bit more storage space,” Jensen says.

All the furniture throughout the home, such as the sofas by Holly Hunt, is upholstered with performance-based fabrics. Boutlier explains this offers the durability and cleanability of outdoor furniture with the sophisticated aesthetic of indoor furniture—perfect for a beach house.

Various hanging light fixtures add a final layer of interest, highlighting the volume of space while also serving as decorative sculptures. For instance, the long black and brass stems of the Lindsey Adelman pendant lights hanging over the kitchen island draw attention to the height of the ceiling without being distracting.

Boutlier’s design indeed proves that a beach house doesn’t need an ocean-blue color scheme and rattan to achieve the tranquility a homeowner seeks from the shore. In this case, modern simplicity and a monochromatic color palette capture the right mood while delivering practicality. 



INTERIOR DESIGN: Christopher Boutlier Interior Design & Art Consultancy,, Washington, D.C. | KITCHEN & BATHROOM DESIGN: Julia Jensen, Boffi Georgetown,, Washington, D.C. | CONTRACTOR: Zorzi Creations,, Lewes, Delaware 



© Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 3 2023