From the August/September 2012 Issue:

Coastal Connection

    Writer: Meg Fox | Photographer: Peter Rymwid | Architect: Michael Melillo, AIA | Builder/General Contractor: Walter G. Kosenski II |

Treasured memories of summers past inspire new ones in a much-loved beach town

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enlarge | Craftsman-style architec­ture inspired the home’s construction: copper accents, arches, squared columns, transom windows and natural stone. Stained fiber-cement siding—chosen for its durability and ease of main­ten­ance—resembles natural wood shingles with its slightly weathered appearance.
For Kirstin and Kevin Schultz it was their longtime dream to build a shore house in Lavallette: the town where they met as children and where extended family members still gather.

“I have such fond memories of those summers,” she says. Her family’s summer ritual involved packing up and heading south to the beach right after school ended and returning to their primary home the night before classes resumed in September. “I wanted so badly for our children to experience that as well.” The Schultzes have two children, daughter Hannah and son Reese, whose name was inspired by a central street in town.

Schultz, an interior designer with DBK Interiors Inc. in Washington Township, had a clear vision for their new 3,500-square-foot home overlooking the Barnegat Bay. “I have always loved the clean lines and functionality of craftsman architecture,” she says, a style she freshly interpreted inside and out.

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enlarge | Painstaking detail went into designing the home’s architectural details. “Each piece was mocked up first, and many changes were made before we had the perfect ratio,” says designer/homeowner Kirstin Schultz. Painting the Craftsman-style millwork white—instead of the traditional stained finish—better suits the light and airy mood of a beach home. Contrasting dark-stained oak floors, laid on a 45-degree angle, juxtaposes the very straight lines of the recessed panels and trimwork, she says.
Dream Realized
The Craftsman-style influences of the home’s exterior include natural stone, arches and square columns, copper accents and paneled peak details. What appears to be natural wood siding is durable fiber-cement shakes stained in Mahogany Sierra. “We wanted the natural look of cedar without the maintenance,” she says. The Schultzes chose a product by Nichiha, in part for its slightly weathered appearance. Builder and general contractor Walter G. Kosenski, whose Laval­lette firm bears his name, was amazed to see how many people stopped by the house to view or touch the siding, impressed by its look of authenticity. “I believe it is going to stand up very well over time,” he says.

The interior’s open layout—drawn up by architect Michael Melillo, AIA, of Melillo Architecture in Brielle—lends itself to a casual atmosphere. Flooded with natural light and a strong indoor/outdoor connection, “I absolutely love the open airy feeling you get walking in the front door,” Schultz says.

Painstaking detail went into creating Craftsman-style millwork on the focal-point staircase and beyond. “Walt Kosenski [and his team] are true craftsmen and gave me a finished product that is as beautiful as it is detailed and authentic,” Schultz says. All millwork is painted white. “This took the heaviness off the woodwork and elevated it to a more casual beach atmosphere,” she says.

The flooring is a contrasting dark-stained oak. Set on a diagonal it draws the eye into the space and juxtaposes the very straight lines of the panels and trimwork. A walnut feature strip along the perimeter adds another layer of detail.

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enlarge | “This is the kitchen I always dreamed of designing,” says Schultz, who culled ideas from old photos of Craftsman-style kitchens. The kitchen centers on a hearth with a hefty timber mantel. For a rustic look, she chose painted and distressed black and cream cabinetry with simple recessed-panel doors, a tumbled slate backsplash and matte black Pietra Cardosa countertops—a durable natural stone that resembles soapstone but requires less upkeep. Pullout spice racks are located on both sides of the cooktop, and a pot-filler is helpful when steaming shellfish in large pots.
Central Focus
The kitchen—where the family typically gathers—was the starting point for the entire design process. “I had sketches and finishes picked out before the home’s foundation was set,” Schultz says. The primary focus is on the hearth, an element captured from iconic Craftsman kitchens with heavy timber mantels. Like the columns and countertop support brackets, the hearth is made of reclaimed and refinished wormy chestnut. “Upon closer look you can see the many worm holes and pathways that make this wood so interesting,” she says.

Simple recessed-panel cabinetry in distressed black and cream finishes deliver the rustic look Schultz envisioned. The custom cabinetry is from Peter Salerno of Peter Salerno Inc. in Wyckoff. “I gave him the task of re-creating my vision, and he did a fabulous job,” she says. For an industrial feel, Schultz chose commercial-grade appliances and plumbing fixtures in stainless steel as well as metal counter stools that pull up to rough-hewn Pietra Cardosa countertops—a natural stone that resembles soapstone but requires less care and maintenance.

The transition into the open living areas is easy with furnishings that are rustic and industrial with a nod to the Arts and Crafts period. The large sectional in the living room is “quite functional but not obtrusive” because it’s the same pale aqua as the walls, Schultz says. Complementary coral accents appear in fresh graphic prints on pillows, window treatments and on a midcentury klismos chair.

Within view is the media room, painted a slightly deeper aqua. “It’s so important for one room to translate into the next, especially in an open floor plan,” Schultz says. “Doing this provides a gracious flow that is driven by color and texture.”

All the paint colors chosen for the house “spoke to me,” Schultz says, adding that it became a “funny coincidence how they really embodied the backdrop of the seashore with their inspired names.” Among the examples are “Swept Away” for the main living areas, “Beach Glass” for a serene guest room and “Blue Heron” for her son’s room.

Daughter Hannah’s bedroom is painted “Lemonade,” the color of sunshine that suits her vibrant personality. “This room was really a labor of love for Hannah and me,” Schultz says, because all the art has a story. Some prints are from Schultz’s childhood bedroom in Lavallette. Other watercolors are Hannah’s originals. “Hannah is a budding artist, and I frame her artwork as often as I can.” And the tiny two-piece bathing suit framed above the bed? That was Hannah’s very first. “As she grows…so quickly, it serves as a wonderful memory,” Mom says.

For son Reese, a “five-year-old ball of fire,” Schultz was buoyed by an all-out nautical display of blue, red and white accents, a theme she chose not to express so literally elsewhere. “He’s the epitome of a little beach bum who would spend the entire year barefoot and shirtless if we let him,” she says jokingly. For now the room suits him. “The fundamentals are basic enough that we could remove all of the nautical accessories and have the space grow with him in the future,” she says.

From left: It’s all about form and function in the hallway, Schultz says of the transition in flooring off a side entry/mudroom. Not only is the feel of the pebbles underfoot wonderful, “the tile is easily swept of sand or mopped of water from wet sandy feet that would normally damage a wood floor.” • A walnut feature strip creates a layer of interest on the stairway landing, built-in window seat and along the perimeter of main living areas. • Once construction was under way, Schultz decided to put the “dead” space under the stairs to work with a built-in wine rack. Heavy trusses favor a Craftsman aesthetic and anchor multiple bottles. A pullout shelf comes in extra handy, and storage beneath is “perfect for housing cases of wine or glassware,” she says.

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enlarge | The large sectional in the living room is “quite functional but not obtrusive” in the same pale aqua as the walls, Schultz says. Coral accents pop on assorted pillows, a midcentury klismos chair and graphic window panels Schultz sewed herself. The fireplace surround echoes the millwork throughout. Pebble tiles are another recurring theme. Ceilings are nine feet on both levels of the home.
Behind the Scenes
Once construction began, the design evolved further based on the feel of the space and how traffic flowed naturally throughout the home. Below are some of the on-site revisions:
1. Movement of Windows. Windows were moved or added, with the style of window being very important to the design. “The slight movement of a window in an interior space could adversely affect the exterior design,” so all of these elements were considered carefully, designer/homeowner Kirstin Schultz says.

2. Open vs. Shut Case. The butler’s pantry was initially walled off from an adjacent hallway. The decision to open up the wall as a pass-through to a side entry/mudroom enhanced the flow of traffic and sight lines between spaces.

3. Maximum Light. The addition of transom windows above all interior doors allowed light to travel through the spaces while capturing the desired Craftsman aesthetic. Crafted on site with bubble glass, the transoms “give a very unique look when all the doors are closed and the glass is lit up,” builder Walter Kosenski says. Building the panes over standard-size doors was more cost effective than ordering custom 7- or 8-foot doors, which are also more difficult for smaller children to handle, he says.

4. Outdoor Living. Moving the exterior wall in by two feet and borrowing square footage from a living room allowed more space for dining alfresco on the covered porch. “This was the best decision we could have made,” Schultz says. “We eat all our meals outside now and have plenty of space for entertaining.”

5. Challenges Become Opportunities. In the daughter’s bedroom, the ceiling had to be lowered one foot to meet the town’s restriction on overall building height. Initially it was something to “deal with,” Schultz says, but ultimately it brought character to the space. “We dormered the roof line and added two transom windows, which brought more natural light into the space and made the exterior much more interesting.” The dormered alcoves also opened up creative storage options