written by:
July 14, 2012

Spying a body of water—be it a placid lake, roaring ocean, glassy pond, or snaking river—from your bedroom window is one of the fairest sights one can see. And for the residents of these 18 homes, it was paramount. Take a spin through our favorite beach houses, waterfront retreats, and more in the following slideshow.

floating home living room renovation in Seattle, Washington
“I love being close to the water. There’s constant change, with boats and wildlife passing by,” says Denise Draper about her floating home on Seattle's Portage Bay. Read the story on the renovation 10 years in the making here.
Courtesy of 
Ninebark Studio
Originally appeared in A Renovated Boathouse on Seattle's Portage Bay
1 / 18
Interior view of outdoor deck
The Porter Cottage on Maine's Ragged Island—one of the outermost inhabited islands on the eastern seaboard—was built as close to the shore as possible. Read more about the house here.

Photo by: Eirik Johnson

Photo by 
Originally appeared in A Tiny Cabin is This Writer's Off the Grid Getaway
2 / 18
modern River House façade in Virginia
Ziger/Snead Architects constructed this ode to rowing in rural Virginia for a Baltimore couple who share a love of sculling. “Everywhere in the house you can see the moment where land meets water,” says Douglas Bothner, an associate at the firm.
Originally appeared in Row House
3 / 18
outdoor wooden hanging bed
This Georgian Bay home shared by two families was an architectural experiment in communal living. Two-year-old Annika and five-year-old Soren make music on the "nap swing," a popular hangout spot for kids and adults alike. View 13 more photos of the home here.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in Four Friends Joined Forces to Realize This Idyllic Forest Retreat Outside Toronto
4 / 18
prefabricated glass greenhouse in Finland
Click here to read more about Linda Bergroth's prefabricated summer retreat in Finland.
Courtesy of 
5 / 18
With almost as much area dedicated to decks as to interiors, Peter Dwares’s house is truly made for outdoor enjoyment.
With almost as much area dedicated to decks as to interiors, Peter Dwares’s house is truly made for outdoor enjoyment. Elevated 12 feet above the ground, the house is engineered to withstand floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, and sea level rise. See more of the Stinson Beach, California, home here.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in Rising Tides Are No Match for This Coastal Home
6 / 18
Nestled in Stinson Beach, an oceanside community about 45 minutes north of San Francisco, this green home offsets its energy consumption with a PV array and solar hot water system. “You can sit in any part of the house and feel this exquisite harmony. And it’s nice to know that in the future, my children and their children will be treading gently on nature—and won’t have to pay any utility bills!” says the resident. See more photos of the house here and read the full article here.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in The Green Lagoon
7 / 18
Modern beach house exterior in New Zealand
Architect Gerald Parsonson renovated a traditional "bach," a modest beachfront house common in New Zealand, to create a modern getaway that pays homage to its roots. With loads of natural light streaming in, and an easy carefree sensibility, this home embodies the spirit of summer. Click here to see our slideshow with 15 more photos than we originally published.
Photo by 
Courtesy of 
matthew williams
Originally appeared in Bach to the Beach
8 / 18
Modern kitchen dining area with Louis Poulsen and Tom Dixon pendant lights
When tasked with renovating this 1960s beach bungalow, architect Page Goolrick was inspired by the ocean—efficiency techniques and hardware commonly found in sailboats and materials that “just evolve and soften over time, like driftwood,” she says. See more of the house in Amagansett, New York, here.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in Long Island Found
9 / 18
Modern sustainable house by the beach
Casa Cuatro is sited on a cliff that rises 180 feet above the Pacific ocean. The green-minded house in Chile was built atop piers to minimize environmental impact, features locally sourced stone in its walls, is surrounded by drought-tolerant landscaping, and derives much of its electricity from rooftop solar panels. See more photos of the house here.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in Tunquen Treasure
10 / 18
modern oceanfront house in big sur with green roof
“I’ve been all around the world, and whenever I come back here, I realize that the Pacific Ocean seen from those cliffs is the most beautiful view on earth,” says the resident of this house built into a hillside in Big Sur, California.
Courtesy of 
© Robert Canfield (415) 472-1302
11 / 18
It’s mid-morning on the lanai. Cathy reads a Dr. Seuss book to Zane while Craig chats with a client about a project he’s working on back in San Francisco.
In "Go With the Flow," we featured a residence sited on a lavaflow on Hawaii's big island. The Craig Steely–designed house features an interior clad with blonde wood and a mix of design classics and contemporary pieces. View our slideshow in the Lavaflow 2 house here.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in Go With the Flow
12 / 18
Laid out in a 270-degree panorama in front of the house is the frosty expanse of Cook Inlet, cascading rocky mountains, and a white sun as big as a dinner plate.
We first featured the Phelps-Burke house in 2005, but the serene setting feels timeless. "Laid out in a 270-degree panorama in front of the house is the frosty expanse of Cook Inlet, cascading rocky mountains, and a white sun as big as a dinner plate," writes James Nestor about the house. Find the full story here and flip through our slideshow here.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in Alaska: The Final (Architectural) Frontier
13 / 18
All of the Worples' guests arrive by boat to the lower level of the Floating House.
On the northeastern side of Lake Huron, residents of this buoyant summer home live the life aquatic. “This place is my heaven,” says Becca Worple, who has made the trip every year of her life. “Every day is unpredictable and magical.” Glimpse our photo gallery of the house here.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in Floating House, Lake Huron
14 / 18
The Ski House H2o, a home in Hobe Sound, Florida overlooking a custom-built water-ski circuit.
In Hobe Sound, Florida, this passively cooled residence overlooking a custom-built water-ski circuit is hardly par for the course. “The home is really driven by exposure to the landscape,” says architect Scott Hughes. Read the full story here.
Courtesy of 
2011 Thomas Winter
Originally appeared in Ski for All
15 / 18
Modern boathouse with giant steel arches
When Margaret and Grant Pomeroy set out to build their boat house along the shores of Ontario's Balsam Lake, they insisted it recede into the surrounding landscape. "We really wanted to enjoy our views of the sunsets," says Margaret. Read more about the Houdini-like project here.
Originally appeared in About a Boat
16 / 18
farmhouse renovation in Eldred, New York
Resident Tom Givone likens the renovation of his 18th-century farmhouse to “an archeological dig: messy but rewarding.” The long porch is cantilevered over a stream that runs through the property. View 11 more photos of the project here.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in Hope Floats
17 / 18
Reclaimed and recycled cypress beams measure 16 inches tall, six inches wide and are 36 feet long. Courtesy <a href="http://architectsandartisans.com/">Architects and Artisans</a>.
“It lends itself to massive relaxing,” says architect Cary Tamarkin of his 2,800-square-foot cottage on Shelter Island overlooking Long Island Sound. “There's lots of napping, and big dinners on the teak tables out on the porch.” See more of the project here.
Photo by 
Originally appeared in Shelter Island Retreat
18 / 18
floating home living room renovation in Seattle, Washington
“I love being close to the water. There’s constant change, with boats and wildlife passing by,” says Denise Draper about her floating home on Seattle's Portage Bay. Read the story on the renovation 10 years in the making here.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016
When a garage damaged by termites had to go, a studio emerges.
June 19, 2016
the blue lagoon iceland geothermal spa hotel water visitors
The famed geothermal spa outside Reykjavík, Iceland, is entering a major new phase—paving the way for the area’s first five-star hotel.
June 19, 2016
heaven on earth maya lin topography what is missing california academy sciences wood video
A new monograph by Rizzoli explores the memorial project by the renowned artist.
June 19, 2016
gable game austin texas cantilevered home facade windows upper level car port
For Dwell's annual issue dedicated to indoor/outdoor living. Here, we introduce you to the photographers and writers who made it happen.
June 18, 2016
Modern prefab lakeside home in Bloomingdale, New Jersey
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
June 18, 2016
Rectangular bento glass table with compartments.
These top-notch projects by design students earned a spot on our honor roll.
June 18, 2016
bozley all
Jory Brigham picks up his family’s trade and takes it in unexpected directions.
June 17, 2016
The outlandish Belgian fashion designer, a member of the iconic Antwerp Six, creates a quirky pattern-filled capsule collection for the Swedish mega-retailer—with a high-tech twist.
June 17, 2016
2016 Triumph Pavilion
A creative take on the classic children's toy.
June 17, 2016
planar and simple chicago farmhouse addition kitchen mutina cabinets tiles pella window kohler faucet
A relaxed interior and radical roof make a home more sociable and energy-efficient.
June 17, 2016
up and away renovation san francisco family room richard wright painting sofa
A couple bring cohesion to an architectural mishmash in San Francisco.
June 17, 2016
new head of its class connecticut renovation summer home facade bleached cedar siding volumes glass bridge
A Connecticut home with a notable architectural legacy gets an expansive update for a family of six.
June 17, 2016
Rockefeller Center filled with cactus during the month of June.
To welcome summer, the plaza at Rockefeller Center transforms into a desert landscape.
June 16, 2016