A family grows up with a seaside house in Dewey Beach
By Jura Koncius,
Dewey Beach, Del. —
As a child, Cheryl New looked forward all year to the first scent of salt air as her family rolled into Bethany Beach for their annual one-week vacation. As a young couple, Cheryl and husband Andy savored their week at a seaside rental.
“On the drive home, we could not believe we had to wait 51 weeks to come back,” says Andy.
Today, the News and their four children, Alexi, 19, Michael, 17, Justin, 14, and Teddy, 9, get a beach fix whenever they can clear their calendars. The North Bethesda family bought a four-bedroom townhouse here in 1997. Three years ago, they completed a long-planned renovation, gutting the three floors and giving it dining and sleeping spaces for up to 12.
The renovation didn’t add much new space; the beach-block property had room for only a 300-square-foot bump-out. But the home now better suits the family’s idea of beach living.
The first floor was opened up to focus on a large kitchen with two dramatic counter-height limestone islands that act as the home’s command center. This floor also has a small reading area with two club chairs for parents to drink coffee and read the paper, and a living room with a roomy sectional sofa upholstered in an indoor-outdoor fabric for kids lounging in damp bathing suits.
The original townhouse had two bedrooms each on the second and third floors. In the renovation, the second floor was reconfigured into three bedrooms.
The News wanted a calm and soothing look. Materials had to be durable and functional for family and guests of all ages running in and out from tennis, swimming or basketball. Working with Chevy Chase designer Jodi Macklin, they chose to use a serene grayish blue (Cheryl’s favorite color) for the kitchen, family room and top-floor master bedroom. Kids’ sleeping spaces got bolder colors for walls, quilted coverlets and Roman shades.
Son Justin’s second-floor bedroom sleeps four, as Macklin designed a custom bunk bed next to a single bed and a trundle underneath. Almost everything in this room — beds, walls and ceilings — was painted Farrow & Ball’s Breakfast Room Green. “We did a lot with a little in here,” says Macklin. “Keeping it one color doesn’t break your eye up in a small room.”
It was not so much the architecture of the semi-detached houses with pastel shutters that originally attracted the News to their beach home.
“We picked our house because it was sunny and bright, had a lovely patio with a perfect place for a fountain and was right next to the tennis court,” Cheryl says. “We knew that would be a plus for the kids.”
The then-1,873-square-foot home was part of Sea Gate, a former Dupont family estate redeveloped in 1983 as a homeowners association with 23 units. Owners had use of a tennis court, pools and the manor house, which serves as the clubhouse.
The design of their renovation and the construction was a two-year effort by the couple working with Delaware architect Greg Hastings and Macklin. A priority was to add built-in systems to keep the house organized. Cheryl, a lawyer whose firm, New & Lowinger, specializes in family law, hates clutter and hires a professional organizer to come to her Maryland home several times a year. The beach house has built-in family lockers and minimal storage. “It’s a very casual environment,” New says.
Take the closets. The News found the original walk-in closets in the house a waste. “Nobody could believe we were complaining that our house had too much closet space, but we don’t need a lot of stuff here,” says Andy, a principal at Bristol Capital Corp., a Bethesda commercial real estate firm.
“Our goal here was a simpler lifestyle. That’s what we got.”
Low-maintenance meets high style
The New family wanted their beach house to be functional and beautiful. A recent renovation allowed them and designer Jodi Macklin to outfit rooms with durable, easy-to-clean surfaces and fabrics and install organizing accessories. Here are some of their ideas.
Bedroom closets. Because shorts and bathing suits are the dress code, the News asked the architect to shrink the closets. Each bedroom is outfitted with a narrow closet with storage drawers, a small hanging area and a built-in wire hamper.
Paint strategy. The main floor and master bedroom got serene colors; kids’ bedrooms were bathed in brights. Shown is Alexi’s bedroom painted in Benjamin Moore’s Citrus Green. Macklin painted walls and ceilings the same color. “Contrary to popular belief, painting the ceiling the same color doesn’t make a room feel smaller,” Macklin said. “It unifies it and makes it cozier.”
Kids’ bathrooms. The pebble floor tile in the boys’ bathroom from Island Stone can withstand sandy flip-flops and damp towels. “It’s comfortable on the feet, too,” Cheryl said.
Fabrics. Indoor/outdoor fabrics were used whenever possible. The living room sectional is upholstered in Donghia’s Zambezi print, woven from stain- and mildew-resistant Sunbrella yarns.
Room for guests. Justin’s bedroom has a custom-designed bunk bed that sleeps four. The house has sleeping accommodations for up to a dozen family members and friends.