Growing up, going to the beach meant to cook for weeks, pack the car with bathing suits, ice chests, beach towels, suntan lotion and plenty of baby oil to ensure your skin got just that perfect deep tan. It was sand, heat, salt, heat, first cigarettes, heat. It was hot. If you weren't lucky enough to get a bedroom with a window unit, you were on the sleeping porch. The great thing about the sleeping porch, if you could overlook the heat, was the waves. You could hear them all night hitting the beach. The morning had a beautiful gray light, which if you were like me simply meant roll over you have sometime before you need to get up and go to the beach to bake in the heat. Everything at the beach faded. Bathing suits went from bright red and blues to soft pink and light blue. Beach towels seemed to always develop bleach spots from being thrown in the wash with all of the linens. Bikinis and cutoffs with foster grant glasses or glasses with polarized lenses if you had a mother who would splurge, were the wardrobe. Only old ladies wore hats, and they were straw numbers that had come from somewhere like Nassau.
What would happen at the beach was magical if you were one of the lucky ones. Everyone ate at one time, because, the day centered around lunch and dinner. Everyone had a task, set the table, clear the table, wash the dishes (by hand). Cooking was not hard because most of it had been done from home and brought in the ice chests.
The daily schedule was pretty simple. Get up, make your bed, sweep the sand out. Have breakfast, go out on the porch and find a dry bathing suit, shake the sand out. Get dressed go to the beach until lunch. At noonish, go up to the house and help with lunch. Set out hot dogs, hamburgers, or cold cuts, and chips, you will notice there is not a salad in sight. The lettuce was generally reserved for spaghetti night, a salad with iceberg lettuce, homegrown tomatoes, and Kraft Italian homemade dressing. The afternoon schedule, after naps, repeated the morning routine, only difference, this time you helped with dinner, a heavier meal, remember the reference to the spaghetti?
By day three all sense of time had melted away. We swam, played cards, read books walked on the beach and dreamed. Then it was over and time to take that perfect tan home to show off to your friends who had not been at the beach.
The beach experience has changed. It isn't all bad. Central air conditioning and dishwashers have certainly earned their right to stay, I am not a purist or a masochist. As a designer, when I hear someone ask for a beach look, but not palm trees and pelicans. I know what to do. Create a space where melts time away. A space that is relaxed, collected, gracious, and above all restorative. A room where you can dream.