Time was, beach houses were utilitarian dwellings — simply furnished living quarters, unadorned bedrooms perhaps weighted with bunk beds, modest kitchens and plainly styled screened-in porches with swinging doors.

Those ocean side cottages bring back memories to many middle aged and older beach goers, but their recollections may not all be idyllic. Even the most charming beach house from decades ago likely would have lacked such creature comforts as air conditioning, upscale appliances, luxury bathrooms and spruced up sleeping quarters.

That’s where a modern day upgrade can do wonders. If you doubt this, then check out 302 Charleston Blvd. on the Isle of Palms.

The second-row bungalow, known as the Wannamaker house, made its debut “back in the ’40s,” says Darlene Smith, associate with Carolina One Real Estate and listing agent. “This was an old beach home,” she says. They had “big parties here.”

Still, the house yearned for a makeover. So in 2013, the Columbia owners carefully remodeled the dwelling, installing granite counter tops and stainless steel kitchen appliances, touching up exotic bamboo floors and bringing in professionals to landscape the grounds.

All the while, the house maintained its throwback appeal. Cedar shake-like siding retrofit the exterior. “They used vintage furniture to recreate the cottage feel,” Smith says.

The result is a 2,200-square-foot house with five “cozy” bedrooms and three upscale bathrooms priced for sale at $1,599,000.

“The complete transformation is truly spectacular, warm and inviting,” Smith says in her real estate listing.

“It has all the surround sound, everything built in,” the agent notes. Although the house presents a down-home vibe, the owners went high-end on the renovations. Take the master bathroom, which showcases a marble floors and encased shower, granite counter tops and double vanity. There’s a spacious living room-dining room combo and a fireplace in the family room.

A bar with ice maker and a washer and dryer are tucked near the living quarters.

“They put in a beautiful saltwater pool” off the screened front porch and visible from beach side Ocean Boulevard, as well as three covered decks. “It’s a great place for entertaining,” Smith says.

At the same time, 302 Charleston Blvd. benefits from its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean but set back a little. “You don’t get wear and tear (on the house) like the front beach,” the Realtor says. “This home has been meticulously maintained and re-constructed with no detail overlooked,” she adds in the listing.

Underneath the house is the garage, which can fit two cars back to back. Stairs lead to and from the kitchen area and ground level, which has a first-floor room with heating, air conditioning and two beds. “It’s a nice setup if you’ve got a teenager,” Smith says. The space, which includes a refrigerator, also could be converted into a mother-in-law suite.

Smith points out scores of spiffs at 302 Charleston Blvd., including:

- Central air and a heat pump

- Quarter acre “street-to-street” lot

- Lawn sprinkler

- Extensive crown moldings and original wainscoting

- Travertine tile

- WiFi home security system

The owners, too, remarked about 302 Charleston Blvd. and its renovation.

“We believe that the house is ideally located. Some of the homes around us have owners who come here regularly from California, North Carolina, Wyoming and Washington, D.C. Also, it’s an easy location from which to run a quick errand or meet friends at nearby restaurants, as well as to take in the cultural events in downtown Charleston. Best of all, it’s 200 steps to the beach.

In resurrecting the house, the owners “wanted to respect its past and maintain the relaxed, vintage charm of a classic 1950s beach cottage but update it throughout with modern conveniences. We spend most of our time on the large, protected porch that overlooks the pool.”

The owners credit contractor Barney Cooper of Visions Remodeling Contractors and decorator, Sharon Cauthen of Cauthen Interiors on Johns Island for working together “to make this a comfortable, energy-efficient retreat for our friends, family and us.” They also thanked Smith for delivering the kind of home they desired.

“Since it is our second home and two hours from our primary residence in Columbia, the contractor made sure that the house is hurricane ready, too. This house survived Hurricane Hugo in 1989 with no water getting to the main floor. We used that as a starting point and upgraded it further, strapping it and wrapping it, replacing all of the windows and doors with impact-resistant glass, making it ready for the worst that might come ashore.”

The house, they agree, is “very livable. Not a McMansion by any means, but a very accommodating place to entertain that’s easy to maintain,” the owners say.

“It’s just a summer home, warm and cozy,” Smith says.

The residence stands near the western edge of the Isle of Palms. From the mainland, travel on U.S. Highway 17 North to the Isle of Palms Connector and turn right. Follow the connector onto the Isle of Palms and take a right on Palm Boulevard. Go a few blocks and turn left on 3rd Avenue. Make a left on Charleston Boulevard. Ahead on the right is 302 Charleston Blvd.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.