REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — In a shingle-style home about a mile from the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, there’s usually a house party going on.
The weekend home of Washingtonians Shawn Evans and Joe Petrone is designed for friends and family to relax, recharge and have fun. With seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, three kitchens and a never-ending stream of music, the place is styled to entertain a crowd.
The goal is “to have our guests feel transported to a luxury resort, making them feel pampered in subtle ways,” Evans says. “We appeal to their senses with great food and drink, good tunes and fresh flowers,” he says, things few people have time to focus on in their day-to-day lives.
The 4,800-square-foot home has a U-shaped design centering on a pool (water usually at 85 degrees). A folding glass wall leads from the pool into a 30-by-30-foot great room lined with linen slipcovered sofas. You can not only put your feet up on the 5-by-7-foot whitewashed wood coffee table, you can dance on it. (It’s happened.) This room opens into the main kitchen, where a large marble island and eight chairs beckon guests to hang out or help shuck the corn.
“Every home has a heartbeat. In our house, it’s this courtyard where the pool and great room join. That’s where life happens,” says Petrone, who grew up in Puerto Rico, where this style of airy, breezy architecture is popular. “We eat, we talk and we tell stories.”
Evans, 49, a designer who owns P Four, a design firm in Alexandria, and husband Petrone, 57, a real estate agent with Monument Sotheby’s International Realty, are expert hosts who strategize meals and party plans in advance so they can also enjoy their time at the beach getaway.
The exterior was inspired by New England coastal-style shingled houses, says Greg Sparhawk of GPS Designs Architecture, who was hired to work with P Four on the project. “They wanted a space that was wide open, with indoor-outdoor living,” Sparhawk says. “They asked for something that allowed for different levels of entertaining both large and small groups.”
The main floor of the house has the great room, dining room, main kitchen, prep kitchen, butler’s pantry and bar, master bedroom and bathroom, a guest room and bath, mudroom, and pool bathroom. The second level has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. There’s also a one-bedroom apartment over the garage.
The furniture Evans envisioned in the two-story great room dictated the room’s size. Evans told Sparhawk they wanted to install two very long sofas and other seating there to accommodate about 15 people. The dining room table had to seat 12.
The house has a unified look, with white linen window treatments, natural Belgian linen slipcovers and sisal carpets. There are beams reclaimed from a Vermont barn, and the wide-plank floors have a driftwood finish. The rooms are done in a neutral color palette: charcoal gray, white and beige, with the occasional touch of lavender.
The master bedroom on the main floor has an indoor-outdoor shower lined with gray river rocks. The guest bedrooms and baths include amenities such as Turkish bath towels, Kiehl’s toiletries and fresh-cut flowers by the beds, some picked from the hosts’ garden on the property. There are often scented candles burning, a favorite being Jo Malone’s Lime, Basil and Mandarin. There are no clocks or TVs in any of the bedrooms. “People come here to be together,” Evans says. “We want them to disconnect.”
The soundtrack in the home changes throughout the day to match the mood of the hour. “It’s all about creating the experience,” Evans says. “We often start with Sirius ‘Coffee House.’ ” Later in the day, as people move to the pool area, they might turn on the satellite radio’s “Chill” or “Yacht Rock” channels. As guests help prepare dinner and gather for cocktails, it’s pop music on Pandora. After a recent trip to Mykonos, Petrone and Evans brought back jump drives from their favorite Greek beach clubs and downloaded them to their playlist. “The key to everything we do here is making sure we provide a place for friends and family to relax,” Petrone says.
And then there is the food and drink. Guests can help themselves to cucumber-infused ice water throughout the day. Breakfast is set up in the catering kitchen (right in back of the main kitchen) for whenever they choose to wake up. They can brew an espresso and grab scones arranged in a glass-domed cake stand, or maybe score a shrimp, corn and spinach frittata. For lunch, two pizza ovens serve the make-your-own-pizza bar, which includes homegrown herbs. Or Evans will buy rotisserie chickens and make chicken salad. Dinner is often a group activity and could be fish tacos and watermelon and feta salad garnished with the hosts’ fresh mint. Cooking together with guests, Evans says, “ends up being some of the most memorable times we have.”
If guests decide to leave the compound (a tough call) and head to the beach or boardwalk, Evans and Petrone have a fleet of 10 bikes, or guests can hitch a ride on one of their two white Vespas. (There are also three paddle boards and four skim boards available.)
Though they use the house all year, Evans and Petrone look forward to the start of the summer season. Usually, they kick if off with 200 guests at a Memorial Day weekend “white party.” They might toss some floating orbs into the pool or hang clusters of white parasols in the courtyard. “Everyone wears white,” Evans says. “It’s a wonderful Saturday afternoon.” Next year they’re thinking about hiring synchronized swimmers. In white bathing suits, of course.
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