The Sand-Free Cottage: 8 Ways to Keep the Beach at Bay

This week we’re combing through the Remodelista archives for some of our all-time favorite summer stories. Here’s one:

In summer nothing beats the feel of sand between your toes. Unless, of course, you happen to be inside. Sandy floors (or worse, sheets) are the bane of every beach cottage. But, as this native Cape Codder has discovered, there are ways to keep the sand at bay.

Here are eight solutions to stop sand at the door.

Photography by Justine Hand, except where noted.

1. Set up an outdoor foot-washing station.

at merryfield cottage in truro, massachusetts, owners steve corkin and dan madd 14
Above: At Merryfield Cottage in Truro, Massachusetts, owners Steve Corkin and Dan Maddalena installed a convenient rinsing station, including hose and water-filled bucket, beside the beach path. See Tales from Truro: An Untamed Landscape Channels Thoreau’s Cape Cod.

A good day at the beach usually ends with a shower to remove all sand, salt, and sunscreen. But what about all those to-ings and fro-ings throughout the day? For quick rinses, create a designated outdoor station specifically for rinsing sandy feet. All you really need is a low hose or spigot—make sure little beach-goers can reach the handle. Or simply keep a large bucket of water near the door.

2. Double up on doormats.

the back door of my summer cottage features a typical maine mat outside and a s 15
Above: The back door of my summer cottage features a typical Maine mat outside and a simple sea grass rug on the inside. (See Outdoors: Custom Cordage Door Mats.)

Despite my efforts to install a foot-wash station, some will always forget to rinse their sandy feet. Therefore my next line of defense is a series of sand-trapping doormats, on both sides of the threshold.

3. Remove all shoes before entering.

designer glenn ban leaves shoes right by the door in his summer rental. see
Above: Designer Glenn Ban leaves shoes right by the door in his summer rental. See A Beach Cottage in Provincetown, Styled for Budget-Minded Summer Living. Photograph by Stephen Johnson.

Even with double doormats, I still encourage everyone to remove their shoes, by setting up a designated area for footwear. Ideally this area is outside the home, but still in a sheltered area—a porch is best. The hope is that a collection of shoes will subtly remind all guests that shoe removal is preferred, without your needing to nag too much.

4. Deploy sandtraps (rugs).

natural fiber rugs, like this one in the houseboat home of fredericks & mae 17
Above: Natural fiber rugs, like this one in the houseboat home of Fredericks & Mae founders Gabe Cohen and Jolie Signorile, not only reflect the casual vibe of the coast but also are excellent sand traps. See Rehab Diary: The Ultimate Houseboat in NYC. Photograph by Douglas Lyle Thompson.

Sand, especially when combined with sunscreen, is notoriously sticky. For those particles that make it past my outdoor sand removal gauntlet, I deploy sand-trapping floor covers, such as sisal and sea-grass rugs. Just be sure to vacuum well.

5. Keep a sand removal bucket in your car.

my car after a day at the beach. 18
Above: My car after a day at the beach.