Lifestyle41 Coastal Grandmother and Home Improvement Ideas for a Fabulous Life

41 Coastal Grandmother and Home Improvement Ideas for a Fabulous Life

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Coastal Grandmother Ideas for a Fabulous Life

Many Coastal Grandmother and home improvement ideas will transform a drab house into your gorgeous residence. And more importantly, your home will work WITH you and FOR you in the fabulous years ahead! As part of our post, we share 41 home improvement ideas that helped my client, a Coastal Grandmother, live an extended life. As well as winning numerous design and construction awards, NECN has also featured the project in a six-minute segment that went on to win the local cable show’s “Dreamies” award.

Washington Post’s Coastal Grandmother Movement

Let’s start by talking about a recent Washington Post article titled, Your Guide to the Ultimate ‘Coastal Grandmother’ Summer. The story written by Emily Heil and Jura Koncius captures the essence of the Coastal Grandmother movement perfectly!

"It taps into a collective craving for simplicity at a time when everything feels painful and awkward. It’s the analog antidote to our "It taps into a collective craving for simplicity at a time when everything feels painful and awkward. It’s the analog antidote to our Zoomed-out lives. (The coastal grandmother’s beach read is a dog-eared book group paperback, not content on a screen.) You don't have to live near a beach or even have adult offspring, to get the lifestyle. "Coastal Grandmother" isn't an age or even a gender. It's a state of mind —a beachy, carefree vibe in your home, kitchen, and closet, on any budget. (Washington Post)"  

Nancy Meyers Movie Sets DO Create a State of Mind

The Washington Post article includes a 5-question quiz. The first question asks which Coastal Grandmother do you emulate most: Oprah in a cozy beige sweater in Montecito, CA, Ina Garten making cosmos in the Hamptons, or Diane Keaton in a Nancy Meyers Movie? Something's Gotta Give in the background when creating visual content for our blog. The soundtrack is a welcome invitation to get into a Zen place, write, design and focus."

Biophilic Design and Hygge

In our recent blog post, Coastal Grandmother Style: The Nancy Meyers Aesthetic Sails In, we share that coastal design is not a new aesthetic. It is, however, enjoying a resurgence of interest, thanks to Lex Nicoleta via her TikTok account, lexnicoleta. The Coastal Grandmother aesthetic celebrates biophilic design and embraces Hygge. And thanks to TikTok, the movement is reaching a new generation of users. I think that’s wonderful news.

Coastal Grandmother – A Home Makeover

And so, in today’s post, we share an uplifting home improvement article of our own and it’s full of important takeaways. This is the true story of a Coastal Grandmother who resides in a cottage by the sea. The home is especially meaningful to her because it was built by her late husband over fifty years ago. The story goes that no matter how many times her adult sons offered to help her upgrade her home, she chose not to.

Saving for A Rainy Day

Why? Well, like many homeowners, Emma believed that remodeling her home was a bit too extravagant and preferred to save for a “rainy day” instead. However, as her cognitive skills worsened and her memory deteriorated, she was in more and more danger while performing everyday tasks.

Coastal Grandmother – A Happy Life

What I am about to share with you is so outside of the norm that you may question its validity, but you have my assurance (and a video filmed by NECN) that the exceptional details of my client’s journey are true.

The renovation was completed about ten years ago. As is so often the case, there is more to it than meets the eye, and it all centers on a single decision to keep a difficult promise. To comfort his weeping mother, a son reassured her that he would not send her to a nursing home. And, for this he put in extraordinary effort.

Emma – My Design Client

And so we’ll start from the beginning. Emma*, my client, invited her grandson to stay with her for a few weeks. He witnessed events that focused on his grandmother’s forgetfulness during his visit. She flooded the kitchen and then the bathroom. Later that week, she placed a dish towel on top of an open flame on her gas stove. He was horrified as she left the room without realizing what she had done. On top of all of this, she could not manage her medication dosage properly.

Next followed a whirlwind round of events, including Emma being rushed to the ER. During Emma’s hospitalization, she was diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer’s Disease and Pneumonia.

We’ve put together this infographic to share Emma’s journey back home. It begins when the Coastal Grandmother arrives at the emergency room and ends when she returns to her seaside cottage that her late husband built for her decades ago.

Coastal Grandmother – Cottage by the Sea

Emma’s son, Steve*, met with Emma’s medical team throughout the next week, and the consensus was to admit her into long-term health care. Emma, however, had other plans. She managed to extract a promise from her son that he wouldn’t send her to a senior living facility. Rather, she insisted on returning to the tiny beach house that her husband had built for her.

Daily Rituals That Make Every Morning Special

While in the hospital, Emma missed the little rituals that made her mornings special. She missed talking with her neighbor over a cup of coffee and taking a walk by the beach. Emma missed being with her friends each week playing cards. In particular, she missed watching the Red Sox and the Patriots, and cheering loudly (very loudly) for both teams.

Here is a glimpse of Emma’s Cottage by the sea. The image on the left includes her new coastal kitchen with safety features. A hands-free faucet, similar to Kohler’s Sensate, is installed to avoid flooding and create a more hygienic kitchen environment. The cameraman was a lovely gentleman from NECN and that’s me all of those years ago providing the home tour for NECN’s Dream House. The photo in the middle includes Emma’s new Wolf Induction Cooktop includes with a safety lock and no open flames. And the image on the right includes her kitchen before the home improvement.

Coastal Grandmother Returns Home

Emma’s doctors made it clear that if Emma were to return home, the safety hazards her grandson identified would have to be addressed. There are quite a few changes needed, and her family went out of their way to help her. In the end, Steve kept the promise he made to his mom. And Emma was eventually able to continue enjoying the traditions and routines that made her happy. Not the least of which was staying in the home where she raised her family. Thankfully, her son’s support likely extended her life. [Read: DIY Room Planner]

NECN Dream House

My client’s health and lifestyle success were so extraordinary that NBCUniversal‘s affiliate, NECN, took notice. And the local TV station featured the family’s home remodel in its Dream House series. NECN shared it once again at the end of the year with five other homes, and Emma’s tiny cottage. Each of the six home remodels earned the “Dreamies” status for a particular design category. In the video, NECN referred to the Coastal Grandmother project as lifesaving – And it definitely proved to be.

Here is an excerpt from NECN's video: “This week’s Dream House is tiny but full of important ideas for our aging population. An elderly widow had moved into a nursing home when the designer figured out a plan to let her return to the seaside cottage her husband built for her more than 50 years ago. The homeowner’s children gave the designer 13 weeks to turn the house into a safe place to live. NECN"

Here is the list of the many necessary upgrades.

Coastal Grandmother Ideas

For a home that will work for you start at the beginning with a project planner.


Home Improvement Ideas

  1. OPENINGS: Entrances, interior doorways and openings were widened to allow the owner easy access with a walker or wheelchair.
  2. CEILING: The ceilings were raised to create a feeling of greater spaciousness.
  3. CLUTTER-FREE: Common areas, including the hall, kitchen and, living room are safe from trip hazards like rugs and decor.
  4. PATH LIGHTING: 24/7 LED in-wall lights lead the way from the homeowner’s bedroom to the bathroom, kitchen, and living room. It’s the type of lighting you see in a movie theatre, and it brightly guides the homeowner from one room to the next to avoid a fall.
  5. SAVE WATER: The home uses less energy and water.
A photo of the new living room with ocean views and the Coastal Grandmother dining table you will read about a little later.

Coastal Grandmother Ideas

Coastal Grandmother settings looks bright and beautiful.

Biophilic design is often at the core of memorable home decor and well-decorated rooms!


Bring the Outdoors Into Your Home

  • 6. COASTAL GRANDMOTHER AESTHETIC: It’s essential that the house looks happy and beautiful. It doesn’t look institutional.
  • 7. COASTAL THEME: The theme draws inspiration from the home’s seaside location. [Read: Blake Lively Style – How to Plan a Stunning Home Decor Project]
  • 8. BIOPHILIC DESIGN: The palette in this design contains soothing, healing colors, with each hue bringing the outdoors into the home.
  • 9. NATURAL HUES: The updated kitchen brings in natural colors.
  • 10. SAFETY: The previous kitchen showed its age and the kitchen cabinets were all unfinished. Also ventilation had not been installed over the stove. Now the new kitchen is safe and drawers are clearly labeled.

Coastal Grandmother Ideas

Kitchen Design – Let’s get cooking!


Kitchen Appliances and Fixtures

  • 11. SINK: The kitchen sink area includes a soft radius corner and shallow depth, Blanco sink that is perfect for accessing dishes.
  • 12. FAUCET: Similar to KOHLER® touchless kitchen faucets, the hands-free faucet will turn off automatically if the client forgets to do so.
  • 13. DISHWASHER: We chose a compact, 18-inch wide Miele dishwasher to support a hygienic kitchen environment.
  • 14. COOKTOP: Wolf induction cooktop is efficient and heats up quickly. The electromagnetic field induces heat in the cookware with precise temperature control.
  • 15. APPLIANCE HEIGHT: The height of the Wolf wall oven and Wolf Microwave are placed at the right height for Emma.
The images highlight the home improvement. Notice the ceiling height at the refrigerator wall. See the before photographs at the bottom of the post. Image on left includes two members of the NECN film crew.

Coastal Grandmother Ideas

Let the sunshine in!

Images were taken at the time NECN filmed the Coastal Grandmother Home. That is, except for the bottom right image giving a glimpse of the original entrance.


It’s Time for Dinner

  • 16. SUB ZERO GLASS FRONT REFRIGERATOR: There are two good reasons we have specified the Sub Zero 30′′ Classic Over-and-Under Refrigerator Freezer with Glass Door.
    • The first reason is that the glass front offers easy visibility for memory-challenged individuals, who then have a more easily visible and prominent reminder to eat.
    • Reason number two: having a clear view of the refrigerator contents makes it much easier for caregivers to monitor supply levels.
  • 17. GLASS PANELED ENTRY DOOR: We selected a glass-paneled entry door to bring more natural light into the coastal cottage. Daylight reduces the risk of osteoporosis, reduces the risk of heart disease, and guards against seasonal depression.

Coastal Grandmother Ideas

A dining room with a view of the sea!


Small Details Add Up

  • 18. COUNTERTOP MATERIAL: A Cambria quartz countertop is environmentally friendly, long-lasting, antimicrobial, and needs no maintenance.
  • 19: DINING ROOM WITH A VIEW: On the other side of the kitchen’s partition wall, a dining table is located to take advantage of the sea view.
  • 20: DINING CHAIR: There are a few details in the dining area, including a specific chair for the homeowner. The seat cushion is thick, so she can prop herself in and out of it.
  • 21: TABLE DESIGN: The table was custom built with a pedestal instead of legs. Additionally, the top has a gradual radius instead of an apron. Our goal is to reduce the possibility of Emma being injured on the table by removing the legs and apron.
Coastal Grandmother style or Coastal Grandmother aesthetic is a feeling and a lifestyle.

Coastal Grandmother Ideas

Discover bathroom ideas that will improve the safety of your home (for all ages).

Newly renovated bathroom with curbless shower and beautiful wall tile.


Bathroom Remodel

  • 22. BATHROOM GUT: During the renovation process, the entire bathroom was gutted and completely redesigned.
  • 23. WATER-RESISTANT PRODUCTS: The fittings, including storage cabinets, had to be waterproof or water-resistant.
  • 24. CURBLESS SHOWER: a standard 16″ high tub in the old bathroom proved to be extremely difficult for the owner to climb over. The tub was replaced with a curbless shower loaded with amenities.
  • 24. BARRIER-FREE: The barrier-free shower accommodates a wheelchair.
  • 25. SHOWER SEAT: A wall-mounted shower seat can be folded up and out of the way when not in use.

Coastal Grandmother Ideas

Bathroom safety is an important part of the design process.


Bathroom Safety Bars

  • 26: GRAB BARS: Grab bars in the shower help reduce the risk of a dangerous fall.
  • 27. HAND SHOWER: A hand shower with a flexible hose is ideal while sitting on the bench or attached to the shower bar as a stationary head (Grohe).
  • 28. SHOWER TILE: The shower surround combines easy-to-maintain waterproof porcelain tile with Ravenna Bamboo Mosaics for a beautiful feature wall.
  • 29. SINK + TOILET BARS: For optimum safety, grab bars at the sink, the toilet will reduce the likelihood of injury.
  • 30. LAVATORY FAUCET: Hands-free faucet prevent flooding mishaps. A motion sensor faucet is also a water-saving device that can save up to 70% of the water usually used by faucets.
Bathrooms can be dangerous and grab bars at the sink and the toilet will reduce the likelihood of injury.

Coastal Grandmother Ideas

A wayfinding system helps people navigate at home with more ease and independence.

SHOWER SEAT: A wall-mounted shower seat can be folded up and out of the way when not in use. Notice the handshower and use of waterproof curtains instead of a glass door.


Better Seat Height

  • 31. COMFORT HEIGHT TOILET: We installed a Kohler comfort height toilet – it’s similar in height as a typical dining chair. It may prevent injuries.
  • 32. FLOOR TILE: For safety reasons, we specified a petite mosaic for the floor (instead of larger tiles that offer less traction). Besides being aesthetically pleasing, our choice of floor is also very functional.
  • 33. TILE TRANSITIONS: Due to her impaired vision, the dark green floor border makes it easier for her to see wall transitions.
  • 34. VISUAL CUES: Interior doors are painted with different colors to signify a room change.

Coastal Grandmother Ideas

A new master bedroom. Use favorite things as inspiration!


Knowledge is Power!

  • 35. WAYFINDING: Visual cues and sometimes referred to as wayfinding in a commercial setting mindset used throughout the home.
  • 36. PRETTY HUES: Besides the nature-inspired palette that reduces depression, we infuse the master bedroom with colors found in the owner’s clothes.
  • 37. A NEW BED: The old bed was replaced with a comfy upholstered headboard, footboard, and a plant-based mattress and is so cozy.
  • 38. The washer and dryer were in the basement. We transformed the master bedroom’s workflow and installed Asko’s panel-ready washer and dryer.
The antique white fronts of the appliances match the antique white custom cabinetry that surrounds them (the den to the left of the bedroom is now part of the new bedroom footprint).

Coastal Grandmother Ideas – A New Kitchen Pantry

The Philips Lifeline Automated Medication Dispensing Service is vital to this Coastal Grandmother.


Convenience & Storage!

  • 39. NEW KITCHEN PANTRY: We modified the home’s interior footprint drastically to add essential features such as a new kitchen pantry.
  • 40. NEW CORNER DESK: A new corner desk with overhead storage is easily accessible in the common area.
  • 41. AUTOMATED MEDICATION DISPENSER: The small desk provides enough space to display Philips Lifeline Automated Medication Dispensing Service. It is a simple way to manage even complex medication regimens. It truly is a unique system that includes an audio prompt to remind the homeowner to take her medication. If a dosage is missed, a caregiver receives an automated phone call or text.

The ROI of Home Improvement

The allure of a home improvement project is that it enhances your quality of life, AND it will likely increase the value of your home! Along with exercise, a sense of humor, and the occasional dessert, make a few changes to your home and your life may take a turn for the better.

Top 5 Home Improvement Takeaways

Self-Love and Wellness Are Essential

  1. SELF-LOVE: Taking care of yourself includes self-love and wellness. That’s a gift you give to yourself and your loved ones. Plus, there’s a beautiful ripple effect that your loved ones will appreciate.
  2. COASTAL GRANDMOTHER FOREVER HOME: Prepare your forever home for your changing needs long before they occur. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy the space for a long time. The other advantage is that you will likely avoid injury, which leads to more optimal health.
  3. HOME IMPROVEMENTS BENEFIT MOST AGE GROUPS: Home improvements included in this project can be beneficial to most age groups. For instance, young children are prone to forgetting to shut off faucets. In-wall lighting will be helpful to them when they awaken in the middle of the night. Safety locks are available in certain induction cooktops.
From top left: the existing office that we incorporate into the master bedroom. Top row, middle photos are existing living room shots. Top and bottom right: existing bathroom photographs and bottom left is the original master bedroom. The wall in the background will be removed with the home improvement.

Coastal Grandmother Additional Takeaways

  • 4. ADDITIONAL SERVICES: I think it’s important to note that Meals on Wheels delivered meals to Emma every day. In addition, Visiting Nurses helped with showering and other health needs. It takes a lot of dedication to care for someone.
  • 5. ADULT CHILDREN AND STRESS: You can help ease your adult kids’ stress by following steps one and two (above). Healthy home improvements can improve your quality of life and even add years to your life. In Emma’s case, it became the framework for extending her life. By updating your home, you can live like a Coastal Grandmother and be safer at the same time.

Thank you!

Thank you for reading all about 41 Coastal Grandmother and Home Improvement Ideas for a Fabulous Life! We’ll end this post with a quote from NECN:

"The homeowner is living proof of how well the home improvement turned out. She has been living on her own for just about eight months*, and she is doing well. (NECN Dream House)"  *Emma continued to live in her home for two years after the home improvement.  

We invite you to read: 17 Charming Guest Room Ideas to Make your Visitors Feel at Home and Welcoming Front Door Ideas with photos taken in Newport Beach, California. And if you haven’t joined our VIP Newsletter list, please join our community today by filling out the one-line box on our site footer!

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Gigi Day
Gigi Day
Gigi Day is a designer and writer. Her blog, The Mod Daily, is full of life-enhancing home décor, lifestyle tips, and advice to optimize life at home.

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