From the August/September 2014 Issue:

It Had To Be Blue

    Writer: Meg Fox | Photographer: John Martinelli | Architect: Jay Madden, AIA | Builder: Frank Solon | Interior Designer: Jeanette Coulter, AKBD | Landscaping: Reynolds Landscaping |

The color of water and sky—and the homeowners’ favorite hue—launches the palette of a Surf City getaway

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enlarge | In the step-down family room, the designer varied the scale of patterns — all in complementary shades of blue and cream — to keep the design scheme fresh. Window panels suspended from seashell finials soften an expanse of windows without obscuring the view. Swivel chairs are covered in worry-free Sunbrella® fabric. “We wanted our main living area to be open and low in maintenance,” homeowner Patty Thomas says.
Building a vacation home in Long Beach Island met all the criteria for Patty and Paul Thomas. The bayfront lot in Surf City was stellar, the family had friends in the vicinity and it was close enough to their main residence in Bridgewater that everyone could visit without investing a lot of travel time. “We also liked the family-friendly atmosphere,” says Patty Thomas whose four children range in age from 18 to 25. “All of the pieces seemed to fall into place.”

What didn’t come so naturally to the Midwestern-raised Thomas (unlike her New Jersey-born spouse) is the proverbial Jersey phrase “down the shore.” “I can’t say it. I have to put a preposition in there somewhere,” she says lightheartedly.

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enlarge | In the breakfast area, a lively sea-life print picks up the sandy tones of the stone flooring. Curved banquettes and a round table follow the lines of the bowed window wall. For continuity, the base of the table was customized with the same paint and glaze as the kitchen cabinetry. The scalloped valance—which discreetly hide cellular shades when they are closed—adds another layer of pattern and texture.
Breaking Ground
Nevertheless, Thomas would put her own stamp on the project. Fairly new into her retirement after a career as a nurse anesthetist, “I jumped all over it,” Thomas says. She recalls compiling photos of inspiration that she categorized by room and helping to line up the first team of contractors. Builder Frank Solon of Manahawkin was the first on board. “Friends who used him said he was wonderfully efficient,” Thomas says. Architect Jay Madden of Harvey Cedars—whose work the Thomases admired in the area—was charged with drawing up the blueprints. “It helped knowing the two had worked together on previous projects. Jay is an extremely good listener,” she says, with a knack for nailing their favorite features: curves and columns, no dramatic sharp angles, a wrap-around porch and barrel-vault windows.

The builder broke ground in August 2011 for a 3,455-square-foot home with five-bedrooms and five-plus bathrooms. The plan was to move in by Memorial Day 2012. “Frank gave me a timetable of what I had to accomplish” for the selection of all materials to stay ahead of planned installation dates, Thomas says. The goal was met thanks to a dedicated team of contractors, including craftsman Martin Pozsonyi, who fabricated the built-ins and other architectural details.

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enlarge | Like most bayfront properties, Patty and Paul Thomas’s classic shingle-style home faces west, but its street side faces south so it takes full advantage of sun and sea breezes, architect Jay Madden says. An open-arm staircase welcomes guests.
Modern-Day Classic
“It’s a classic shingle-style structure” with an interior that suits modern-day lifestyles, Madden says. “Like most of our clients, the Thomases wanted an open-plan family room, kitchen and dining area” as well as light-filled spaces that capitalize on the waterfront. The location of a den/game room to corral the kids and their friends was a key consideration also. “Sometimes people will want it in a separate wing of the house or on the second floor,” but the Thomases wanted it more accessible to the main living area, where the kids would be encouraged to use it and where noise could still be contained, he says.

Placing the room above the garage, located midway between the first and second floor, proved ideal. It’s an “in-between room,” Madden says. The functional space is also aesthetically pleasing from the exterior; with two dormered bedrooms above it, the encompassing design looks less box-like, he says.

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enlarge | White bead-board cabinets with a nickel glaze have an at-the-beach feel paired with deep blue pearl granite countertops and some LED lighted glass doors that bounce light around the room. One island is devoted to food prep, the other to eating and entertain­ing. Dual sinks and dishwashers make cleanup easier. “We entertain a lot and don’t want to be washing dishes all the time,” the mom of four says.
Design Reinforcement
The kitchen plan was a big piece of the puzzle, says Thomas, who had a basic idea for the layout. “We knew we wanted a double island,” one for food prep, the other as an eat-in area and bar for entertaining, she says. Helping to put all the pieces together was Peter Loughlin of Waitikowich Construction Co. in Bridgewater, the same contractor who designed and built the kitchen in the Thomases’ main residence. “I wanted bead-board [cabinets] but not in plain white, so Pete suggested a nickel glaze,” along with lighted glass fronts that break up an expanse of wood and contrasting elements such as blue pearl granite countertops and a blue-painted island, she says. “Pete knows we are blue people,” Thomas says, explaining that her husband, Paul, is slightly colorblind with red and green but sees blue clearly.

For the design of the bathrooms and more, Thomas sought assistance from interior designer Jeanette Coulter, principal of Design Philosophy in Tewksbury. “Patty hired me to do five bathrooms and tile designs,” says Coulter, an Associate Kitchen and Bathroom Designer. “She wanted something different for each bath, not cookie-cutter.” Within weeks of making their selections, Coulter had the material specs in place with detailed sketches of the designs drawn on graph paper—a process that took the guesswork out of installation. From there, her design expertise expanded to the rest of the house. “It was a give and take,” Coulter says of the collaboration. “We complemented each other well. I think Patty would say I listened but guided her if I thought there would be too much of one thing or if she should be braver” in her choices.

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enlarge | Awash in pale blue, cream and sandy tones, the master bedroom is “soft, serene and peaceful,” homeowner Patty Thomas says. Accents embrace the spirit of the coast from the window seat’s embroidered coral motif and clam-like drawer pulls to the nautilus lamps and framed sea fan.
Refreshing Beach Spirit
The result is a casually elegant interior where sea-inspired accents and the homeowners’ favorite color is expressed in varying shades. “Even though the house has blue in almost every room, I feel we did a good job of giving each one a distinctive look” Coulter says. “The key is the blending” of tones, patterns and textures. Ceilings in most rooms are painted a few shades lighter than the walls. “I feel it adds more depth and makes the room softer and cozier than a stark white ceiling,” Coulter says.

Easy care was the criterion for choosing fabrics and finishes. In the family room, for instance, swivel chairs are covered in a stain- and fade-resistant indoor/outdoor fabric, woods are slightly distressed and stone floors are easy to maintain. “We wanted our main living area to be low in maintenance,” says Thomas, who opted to use hardwood elsewhere but figured a wood floor would not work in a high-traffic area with a lot of wet feet coming and going.

To soften spaces and cushion bare feet, Coulter suggested low-pile area rugs, which she says are good for homes at the beach. Initially the Thomases had all sisal rugs in mind, a look that is synonymous with shore living, but “they can be hard and scratchy underfoot,” the designer says. “My goal was to find rugs that were more comfortable and that would complement each room beautifully.”

While rooms take on the light, airy beachy feel the homeowners envisioned, the den/game room sets itself apart with its Caribbean beat. “It became the Tommy Bahama room,” Thomas says, citing its mix of woven accents, dark-stained custom built-ins and splashes of color. Equipped with built-in bunks and a full bathroom, it’s a go-to-place for the kids and their friends. Like the rest of the house, “it’s full every weekend, she says. “That’s the way we wanted it. If you can’t share your home with someone, it’s not as much fun.”

Homeowner Tips

Do your homework
Check references, view contractor work and compare estimates. “We interviewed three people” for every job and obtained three estimates for every facet of the project, Patty Thomas says. These measures led to more confident decision-making.

Money-Saving Tactics
“All of my [Hunter Douglas Silhouette] blinds, with the exception of the game room and kitchen sink window, were purchased from Costco. “They had a person who measured and installed. It was a terrific savings, and they were very professional.”

No slip zones
As an added precaution for the main level, Thomas had a professional apply an acid wash to tiled floors to give them a slip-resistant texture, she says.

This home was featured in the 2013 Seashore House Tour on Long Beach Island. This year’s tour will be from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. August 6. Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 on tour day. Proceeds benefit the Long Beach Island Foundation. Purchase tickets by calling 609-494-1241 or visit the foundation office at 120 Long Beach Boulevard in Loveladies.


Overall: architect, Jay Madden Architect in Harvey Cedars; builder, Frank Solon Building Contractor LLC in Manahawkin; interior design, Jeanette Coulter, AKBD, of Design Philosophy LLC in Tewksbury; area rugs, J&S Designer Flooring in Morristown. Exterior: landscaping, pavers, fencing and outdoor lighting, Reynolds Landscaping in Manahawkin; pool, Viking, installed by Hutchinson Fiberglass Pools Inc. in Surf City; patio furniture, Patio World Home & Hearth in Lawrenceville. Breakfast Room: dining table, Onion Pedestal by Camlen Inc. with custom glaze; banquettes, Kincaid Furniture Co., upholstered with Duralee “Sealife Del Mar”; sea-grass chairs, Furniture Classics Ltd.; window treatment, “Little Hipster” fabric from P. Kaufman, fabricated by Touch of Design in New Providence. Kitchen: design and installation, Peter Loughlin of Waitikowich Construction Co. in Bridgewater with cabinetry from CWP Cabinetry in Roanoke, Virginia; blue pearl granite countertops, Bridgewater Marble & Granite Works LLC in Bound Brook; Sonoma Nantucket Blend backsplash and Pacific Oyster Marble flooring, Avalon Flooring in Manahawkin; plumbing fixtures and Franke sinks and faucets, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Lakewood; cabinet knobs, Top Knobs in Hillsborough; chandelier and island pendants, Currey & Co. through Chester Lighting in Chester; stools, Lorts through White House Fine Interiors in Fairfield; stained glass window, Andersen. Foyer: credenza, GuildMaster (T); paint, here and on main floor, Blue Heather on the walls, First Snowfall on the ceiling, White Diamond trim, all by Benjamin Moore. Family Room: furniture, from Flemington Department Store: sofa, CR Laine, upholstered with “Starfish” pattern by Brentwood Textiles in High Point, North Carolina; swivel chairs, CR Laine, upholstered with “Pavilion” indoor/outdoor fabric by Duralee from To the Trade Design Resource in Fairfield; coffee table and side tables, GuildMaster; window treatment panels, fabricated by Touch of Design with Braemore Fioretto fabric; blinds, Silhouette® by Hunter Douglas from Costco; shell mantel, design and fabrication by Cheryl Kirby from Things-a-Drift in Ship Bottom. Powder Room: tile, Artistic Tile in Paramus with design and layout by Design Philosophy; custom vanity, Martin J. Pozsonyi Custom Cabinetry; starfish faucet and silver nickel spout, Lalique, through Imaginative Design Center in Bedminster (now out of business); fish drawer pulls, Signature Hardware in Erlanger, Kentucky; sink, Linkasink. Game Room: built-in media unit and bunk beds, Martin J. Pozsonyi Custom Cabinetry; furniture, from Flemington Department Store: sofa, CR Laine, with “Crazy Ol Birds” fabric by Mill Creek from Mac Fabrics in West Palm Beach, Florida; chairs, Flexsteel; trunk tables, Lexington; ottoman, Kincaid; fan, Fanimation; paint, Yosemite Sand on the walls, Natural Wicker on the ceiling, Bone White trim, all by Benjamin Moore. British Colonial-Style Bedroom: built-in closet, Martin J. Pozsonyi Custom Cabinetry; furniture, Lexington’s Kingstown Collection from Flemington Depart­­ment Store; window treatments, designed by Design Philosophy and fabricated by Windows Etc. in Whitehouse; parrot artwork, Creative Displays Inc. in Tinton Falls (T); paint, Yosemite Sand on the walls, Natural Wicker on the ceiling, White Diamond trim, all by Benjamin Moore. Girl’s Bedroom: bed and dresser, Coastal Living Collection by Stanley from Flemington Department Store; bedding, pillows and throw pillows, Horchow catalog; window treatment, designed by Design Philosophy and fabricated by Windows Etc. Nautical Bedroom (beige walls): built-ins, Martin J. Pozsonyi Custom Cabinetry; bed, Hooker Furniture; bedding, Pottery Barn Kids; window treatment, designed by Design Philosophy and fabricated by Windows Etc.; paint, Malton on the walls, White Diamond flat on the ceiling, White Diamond semigloss trim, all by Benjamin Moore. Nautical Bedroom (blue walls): built-ins, Martin J. Pozsonyi Custom Cabinetry; custom headboard, designed by Design Philosophy and fabricated by Esthela’s Upholstery Shop in Bernardsville; window treatment, cushion and bolster pillow, designed by Design Philosophy and fabricated by Windows Etc.; bedding, Hudson Park from Bloom­ing­dale’s; rope lamp and hamper, Serena & Lily; anchor, Pottery Barn; oar, One Kings Lane; paint, November Skies on the walls, Beacon Gray on the ceiling, White Diamond trim, all by Benjamin Moore. Nautical Bathroom: custom cherry vanity and trim, Waitikowich Construction Co. with CWP Cabinetry; design, Design Philosophy; shower, crackle subway tile in “fleece” with decorative 3/4-inch blue glass tile from Mediterranean Tile & Marble in Fairfield; countertop, “Ocean Shell” Geos Glass; hardware, Top Knobs; Newport Brass faucet, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery; nautical prints (Spicher and Co.) framed by Frame Me Inc. in Raritan; paint, Hawaiian Breeze on the walls, Sea Pearl trim, both by Benjamin Moore. Master Bedroom: dresser and side tables, Lexington (discontinued); custom headboard, designed by Design Philos­ophy and fabricated by Esthela’s Upholstery Shop in Duralee pattern #4195; window treatments, seat cushions and assorted pillows, designed by Design Philosophy and fabricated by Windows Etc.; built-in window seat, Martin J. Pozsonyi Custom Cabinetry; sea fan wall art, Karen Robertson in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; Nautilus lamp, Simpler Pleasures in Chatham, Massachusetts; paint, November Skies on the walls, Sweet Bluette on the ceiling, White Diamond trim, all from Benjamin Moore. Master Bathroom: tile design and layout, Design Philosophy; tile, Artistic Tile. T=To the trade.

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