In the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the lifestyle is relaxed and easy. Interior design of area homes is equally laid back and casual, providing space for socialization and enjoyment of the picturesque natural setting. We sat down with Outer Banks interior designer Amy Hilliker Klebitz to gain insight into what makes an island home quintessentially OBX, while learning more about the lifestyle residents enjoy here.
Amy is lean and outdoorsy. You can tell she excels at sports and enjoys being in the sunshine. She has a warm demeanor and seems to love talking about her chosen field of interior design, maybe just as much as it seems she enjoys running and surfing.
“I most love the psychology of design and helping clients to understand how arrangements and clutter affect the people living in that space,” Amy explained.
Amy seems at ease in her life in the Outer Banks. The certified and licensed interior designer graduated from East Carolina University. She then made her way to Miami, where she worked for a high-end design firm for three years. There she was able to enjoy working for clients with large budgets and highly defined yet individual taste.
During the economic crash of 2010, Amy returned to the islands off North Carolina where she was raised. It was not a purposefully permanent move. But meeting her future husband Dave here made the temporary decision more happily long term. Now the couple enjoys an active lifestyle with their four legged children, Dave as an engineer and Amy within her craft.
Summer Rentals and Permanent Residences
Anyone who has been in this region during summer knows that it is a haven for visitors from Virginia up to New York and westward as far as Illinois and Missouri. Visitor license plates outnumber those of locals during the high season. Traffic can become quite heavy, particularly where roadways are only two lanes and must be driven carefully at low speed due to pedestrians, bicyclists and an occasional wild horse.
Amy explained how the Outer Banks are laid out, in regard to resort areas for visitors and neighborhoods for long-term residents.
“Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo are communities where more year-round residents live. Duck, Corolla and similar towns are where vacation rentals dominate. Each of those types of homes – year-round and vacation rentals – have slightly different elements of design and decor,” she said.
Amy differentiated the decor of the two types of homes by saying, “Year-round residents go more for their own style and taste, rather than just sticking to a beach theme. Elements of the outdoors are still present, but not as clearly as in a vacation rental. A good way to describe the decor differences is to say that rentals around here are usually decorated with a rustic or vintage beach theme. Permanent residences have more of a rustic or vintage cottage decor.”
This is a subtle difference, that of vintage beach decor versus vintage cottage. But it makes sense. Cottage furnishings can be more upscale, richer, more intricately styled. Beach style furnishings and accents are generally more casual and less detailed in design, better suited for the rough living rental homes experience through frequent guest turnover.
As for their similarities, she said, “Both types of houses have the reverse floor plan you see in beach homes. The kitchen and living room are on the second floor to take advantage of views. Both rentals and year-round houses typically go with an organic and natural decor bringing elements of the beach into the home.”
Regardless of whether homes are permanent year-round dwellings or temporary residences rented by the week, there are some things common to most. According to Amy these are sisal rugs, touches of coral and sea life as accents, organic and natural fibers, rocking and Adirondack chairs, layered window treatments to shield from glaring sun, wood floors and glass accessories.
Check out Chez Roulez’ feature of Outer Banks Lifestyle decor elements to bring seaside living of North Carolina into your own home.
As for home exteriors, the preferred coastal style of this region is that of cedar shakes with a forest green roof and white trim. Outdoor touches include an outdoor shower, woven hammock, water treatments and, of course, wind chimes.
Outer Banks Style, Anywhere
If the Outer Banks is where your best vacation memories were formed and living a casual lifestyle suits you, bringing elements of Nags Head, Duck, Corolla or Rodanthe into your home decor is not difficult. Amy provides the most common decorative touches and design elements of this beautiful seaside region on the following pages, so you can enjoy Outer Banks relaxation wherever you live.
Simply click through pages at the bottom right to see Amy Hilliker Klebitz’ Outer Banks beach house style and design recommendations.
Photos by James Jackson with supplementation by Kimberly Toms.