BETHANY BEACH, DEL. — Last Thanksgiving, three generations of Bobbs filled a party bus headed to Bethany Beach for the day to see the progress on their new beach house. The crowd of 20, all from Montgomery County, walked gingerly around the just-framed home as family member and designer Jodi Bobb Macklin pointed out everyone’s bedrooms. After a pit stop at Nicola Pizza in Rehoboth Beach, they headed home, fingers crossed that they’d be back there six months later, playing cornhole, layering shell gardens and kayaking.
Today, the two-story oceanfront house is cool and modern. A large basement has storage, laundry and direct beach access. “Everything had to be indestructible,” says Jodi, a Chevy Chase designer whose work includes Georgetown’s historic Evermay mansion. She headed the project with brother Daryle Bobb, who has experience in home building. “Twenty people had to fit in multiple areas. It was a challenge,” she says. The 10-bedroom house has four master bedrooms, two bunk rooms, four guest rooms and 11 bathrooms. There are two 13-foot-long kitchen islands and three outdoor showers.
The story of Camp Bobb starts with Sandy, now 75, and Stanley Bobb, now 81. They always took their kids, Jodi, Tammy and Daryle, for an annual vacation by the ocean. In 1992, they built a house in Bethany Beach with a breezy screened porch and five bedrooms. The three Bobb children married and each had four kids of their own. After 25 years of fun, Camp Bobb was looking rather weather-beaten and bursting at the seams.
Sandy and Stanley were getting older, too. In 2012, the couple passed Camp Bobb on to their kids. “Our options were to sell it, rebuild or keep it as is,” says Tammy Bobb Mendelson. “Our kids loved it so much, we figured if we can make it work we should rebuild.” The cousin crab feasts and Yahtzee games would continue in a bigger house on the same lot, where Sandy and Stanley could now be guests, not hosts.
Jodi says, “At least we knew the views and neighbors would be the same.”
Jodi, 52, would do design, and Daryle, 46, would supervise construction. Tammy, 50, was happy to leave most decisions to her siblings. “I had complete confidence in them,” she says. “I knew whatever they did would be fabulous.”
Last Labor Day weekend, everyone gathered to toss 25 years of Tupperware and rusty beach chairs. They kept mattresses and a shell mirror, plus hundreds of family photos. It was emotional. Says Jodi, “I had a knot in my stomach as I drove away.”
Things moved swiftly. On Memorial Day weekend, the 7,100-square-foot house opened for the season with 60 bath towels, 44 pillows and 640 rolls of toilet paper. Everything was chosen with an eye for wear and tear. “We were very concerned about maintenance. With the sea mist, everything rusts and fades quickly,” Daryle says.
The main floor is light and bright. As you walk in, a playful rattan sea urchin pendant lamp leads you down the hall toward the living area and the ocean. The heart of the house: a 24-by-27-foot screened porch with a large sectional, two powder-coated aluminum dining tables that seat 20, retractable Phantom Screens and retractable storm shutters. “It’s the everything room: breakfast room, living room, lunch room and lounging room,” Daryle says. At dinner, party lights make it sparkle. The room is adjacent to the kitchen, with the two work islands and restaurant-style ice machine. In the pantry is a chest freezer for ice cream. The living room has a gas fireplace, lots of seating and a custom table made from a slab of wood.
All the bedrooms were designed with the same concept: Don’t bring a lot of stuff, and don’t leave it lying around. Jodi installed bedside tables with no drawers, and there are no dressers. (The family members stash their things in walk-in closets.) Dash & Albert cotton rugs and print coverlets complete the look. “I wanted uncluttered spaces so the focus would be out there,” Jodi says, pointing to the ocean.
Communication on comings and goings and everything else is usually through Google Calendar and a Camp Bobb group chat. A large chalkboard features an ongoing shopping list: Plungers and toothpicks were recent notations. A Roomba robot vac picks up sand that’s been tracked on the white oak floors.
How can 20 people who live minutes from one another want to spend weekends together? “We have our grandparents to thank for teaching us about family,” says Oliver Macklin, 22, son of Jodi and her husband, Rodd, 53. “We all have to help with the dishes and take out the trash. And we all have to stick together.” The beach house is part of the glue. “We spent a lot of time with the kids and still do. They all look out for one another,” Stanley says. “I don’t water the roses anymore, as there is a sprinkler system. I don’t have to go buy bags of ice.” Sandy can make onion dip but doesn’t have to plan dinner for 20 and can play a game with a grandchild instead.
On Memorial Day weekend, Jodi was curious to see how everyone adapted. “The first morning I woke up and passed the girls’ bunk room. They had all made their beds,” she says. “I was happy.” Later, she found her father on the screened porch napping on the sectional, in approximately the same spot he used to relax in the old house.
“My parents created a wonderful beach house for all of us,” Jodi says. “And we turned around and did it for them.”
Chat Thursday at 11 a.m. Designer Jodi Macklin joins staff writer Jura Koncius for our weekly online Q&A on decorating and household advice.