How to Restore a Cute Old Beach Cottage in the Bahamas

August 17, 2015 | By | Comments (7)

By Homes Editor Ellen McGauley

One of my all-time favorite beach houses is in the September issue, which just landed on newsstands (it’s HOT, my friends!). It’s the story of an old Bahamian cottage, left in disrepair for decades (can you believe the “before” pic? See the rest of the story here).


Best Bahamas before and after

Harbour Island, Bahamas


Then along came a neighbor who knew that with a little (okay, a lot) of ingenuity and TLC, she could make it something special again.

And special it is….


Beach House Makeover

Homeowner Trish Becker; photo by Annie Schlechter


The home’s rescuer, a New York jewelry designer by the name of Trish Becker, named the cottage Jewelbox, and it’s how it came to be known around our office. Everything in this house shines so brightly.

I asked Trish to hand us the keys to the Jewelbox kingdom: in other words, a few guidelines to renovating an old cottage like this, steeped in island history and begging for a little love. NOTE: these can be applied to any seen-better-days beach house that tugs at our heartstrings. Here are her Rules for Authenticity (along with a few extra shots not seen in the magazine):


Painted shiplap stairwell

Photo by Annie Schlechter


Find Out Who Built the House. It’s fun to renovate around real or imagined ancestors and let their “story” direct the details. For example, a wealthy merchant’s former home might have crown molding, whereas a modest sailmaker’s house might not.


Outdoor dining room

Photo by Annie Schlechter


Maintain the Original Footprint. If you need more room, consider exterior possibilities. For instance, separate laundry cottages look cute on a property and free up the home’s living space.


Beach house bathroom

Photo by Annie Schlechter

Use Era-Appropriate Materials. They give a newly renovated house a sense of history. In this case, the doors and windows are solid wood, and the hardware is all brass or bronze.

Check out behind-the-scenes pics from the photo shoot here.

Check out a few more of my favorite cottages here.


  1. littlehousebytheferry

    Love this piece, and love Trish’s Rules for Authenticity. My husband and I have adopted very similar guidelines in restoring our own Bahamian cottage, Fish Hooks: We took some license by adding a front porch, but aside from that, we’re changing it as little as possible as we bring it back to life!

    August 17, 2015 at 8:35 pm
  2. John D. Hersh

    Hi Trish, finally that old house got reborn before it fell down. Great job. Can’t wait to see it in person.


    August 19, 2015 at 10:03 pm
  3. Paul&Cecilia (@giftedpottery)

    Hi Ellen, just found your posts. Being in the home decor editorial biz, thought you might have an interest at taking a look at our site at Our site is about 4 years old, and we specialize in US made handmade pottery, in functional, decor and art pottery. In addition, many of our potters are from Seagrove NC, which fits with your Coastal Living themes. Thanks for considering our site in any of your future posts.
    Best Regards, Paul and Cecilia,

    August 22, 2015 at 12:50 pm
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