Design by Christina Kim
Photography by Raquel Langworthy
Text by Nayda Rondon
If ever there was a “happy place,” it’s the Manasquan beachfront property designed for lighthearted living at its best by Christina Kim of the Manasquan-based Christina Kim Interior Design (CKID).
The three-bedroom, three-bathroom coastal home features a toes-in-the-sand beachfront porch and a backyard courtyard boasting a grill area, an outdoor shower and a kids’ play zone. The first-time clients—a couple and their two young children—made it clear that they weren’t interested in a luxury, high-fashion look. Instead, they wanted “comfort, style and happy.”
“I can do easy and happy!” Kim exclaims. “It’s in the DNA at CKID.” For this gut renovation, the designer and her team completely reimagined the original house to give the family the playful, carefree-casual vibe they were seeking for their “don’t worry, be happy” secondary home. From summer 2020 to summer 2021, the CKID team designed and installed new bathrooms, built-ins and the kitchen, along with selecting and styling all interior design elements.
To keep things clean, carefree and cohesive, Kim went with Benjamin Moore’s Simply White paint on the walls and ceilings and waterproof, scratch-resistant Cali Bamboo flooring throughout. Adding to the sense of airiness, the ceiling heights of the two-story house were raised to meet new codes. For warmth, texture and durability, the designer mixed in wood and rattan elements, sturdy slip-covers and natural materials that would wear well over time. She also made generous use of vintage art. “Vintage photography is a great mood setter,” she explains. “Key to a beach house. I call it designing a vibe.”
A beachy palette of bright whites, soft blues and sea- foam greens set the tone for the first floor’s aesthetics. “It was important that the furnishings were comfort- able and well proportioned, and that nothing was too precious for still-wet bathing suits,” Kim emphasizes.
In the living room, pops of blues and yellows enliven the neutral upholstery and otherwise overlooked areas are imaginatively purposed. Case in point: Kim transformed the space under the staircase into a sweet little nook. “It was a great opportunity to use fun patterned cement tile,” she says. “Creating little elements like this is key in designing beach homes. They tie into the way people remember their beach homes and summer.”
For the “small but mighty” kitchen, Kim used marble and jade penny tiles, hard-working quartz and brass finishes. The island in Van Courtland Blue adds some color spice, while the Ethni- craft seats, Visual Comfort lamps, Emtek hardware and Lafayette Interior Fashions window treatment contribute complementary style.
Directly adjacent, the dining area offers ample seating thanks to the Laura Davidson rattan chairs, the Ethnicraft oak table and the Timber Talent banquette. “I really love the banquette,” the designer says. “Although it’s super practical and hard-working—as it serves so many friends, kids and family—it’s also chic. That channel-back upholstery really elevates the room.”
The buoyant spirit continues upstairs. “The primary bedroom feels like you’re in the sky,” says Kim. “We kept the palette white and pale aqua. It’s peaceful, and there is a killer view of practically the whole Manasquan beachfront.”
As per the clients’ wishes, the mood is decidedly playful and juvenile in the kids’ bedrooms: Whites and bright pink décor and super-fun art keep things pretty and perky in one room; navy-and-white “Ripple” wallpaper by Rebecca Atwood creates a nautical splash in the other.
All of the spaces in this inviting home radiate casual charm and comfort, exuding a sunny, cheery energy that embodies the beachfront lifestyle.
“I remember installing this home with my team on a perfect beach day in July. I live in this town, so my kids are at the beach every day, and that day they walked up in bathing suits to visit their mom and ask, ‘What-cha doing?’” Kim says. “We work up and down this coast and specifically this beachfront all year long. I love experiencing these kinds of memories and being able to watch my clients enjoy their home. It’s incredibly gratifying.”