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A New Look for a Jersey Shore Vacation Home

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Halkin|Mason Photography  |  Designer Marguerite Rodgers Interior Design  |  Location Atlantic County, NJ

An Atlantic County residence gets a decorative boost with updated furnishings, pops of color and a change of art.

A sectional sofa in the family room offers abundant, comfortable seating. Throw pillows and artwork infuse the room with pops of color. Even the television screensaver mimics a work of art.

This Atlantic County home had a lot to offer. “It was a great location, was brand new and had the right bones for our lifestyle,” says the owner who, along with her husband, purchased the home as a vacation residence. But it wasn’t without its shortcomings. “The house did not reflect our style and just did not feel like home.”

To bring the interiors more in line with their decorative preferences, the homeowners engaged Marguerite Rodgers of Philadelphia-based Marguerite Rodgers Interior Design. “They wanted color and art, something more eclectic and casual, easy and comfortable,” explains the designer, who’d worked with the homeowners previously on their Philadelphia residence.

“The window treatments are all new,” designer Marguerite Rodgers says. The louvered shutters are composed of wide blades. “When they’re open, they allow a lot of light, but they can be tilted in a way that ensures privacy.”

The owner describes her family’s city apartment as sophisticated and cosmopolitan, timeless and comfortable. She and her husband wanted their beach house to be just as comfortable, but with a more relaxed feel. “We didn’t want to walk in and feel like we ‘decorated’ from head to toe. We wanted a home where every room draws you in and invites you to stay.”

To create that easy, welcoming aesthetic, Rodgers began with a soothingly neutral foundation, which, in certain spaces, included painting the woodwork the same color as the walls. “Initially, the client wanted to get rid of all the moldings in the family room and hallway. They read too traditional. We achieved an airy look by painting everything one color.”

The colorful abstract painting above the console in the family room was a new find. The Asian prints on the wall in the stairwell were previously purchased by the homeowners.

Rodgers used large area rugs throughout the home to visually expand the space. “When you size the rug to cover a whole room, all the furniture is resting on that carpet, which makes a room look bigger. Using several smaller rugs can chop up a room. A single rug grounds everything.”

In the office, wall and floor coverings add easy-on-the-eye interest. Both feature similar tan-and-white checked patterns that coordinate beautifully, but their different scales create a clear delineation between the surfaces.

Rodgers designed the long desk tucked into a niche in the office

The primary bedroom is furnished with textiles in a palette of slate blue, featuring a variety of patterns from the geometrics on the rug to the dotted clusters on the bench at the foot of the bed to the soft swathes of cloudlike color on an armchair. The similar colors ensure that the varying patterns work together in the space. “Marguerite creates a ‘wow’ in a room!” the homeowner says. “It’s practical, timeless and tasteful. She has the unique ability to understand the space and what has to be done to incorporate the individual needs of the owner.”

The designer had the homeowners’ own bench and armchair reupholstered to coordinate with the palette in the primary bedroom.

Rodgers designed the television cabinet in the primary bedroom.

That flair is also on display in a guest bathroom, which was completely renovated. The light wood of the vanity contrasts gently with the white shiplap on the walls and ceiling. The shiplap panels serve more than an aesthetic purpose. “There were a lot of soffits in that ceiling,” Rodgers notes. “We aligned them to other points in the room and added wood planks to the walls, ceilings and soffits, which makes the design feel more intentional.”

A guest bedroom features coordinating bedding and artwork.

Art selection was another purposeful aspect of the design, infusing each room with intriguing pops of color. The works are important to the owners, who are art enthusiasts. “We like abstract expressionism — things with movement,” the homeowner notes. Some of the pieces here are new; many were purchased on vacations. The abstract landscape in the primary bedroom was one such relocated piece. Its deep gold and green tones add warmth and vibrancy to the blue gray room. One Picasso-esque print that didn’t quite work in the city apartment now makes a striking statement in a guest bedroom. Rodgers says of the homeowner, “She really loves to shop and collect. She would pull things from closets and say ‘if we reframe this it would look great.’”

The Picasso-like painting at right didn’t quite suit the homeowners’ Philadelphia apartment, but it works brilliantly in this guest bedroom. “Sometimes art needs to breathe,” the homeowner says. “We knew right away it was going to be perfect there.”

Relocating collected artwork enhanced the design of both this home and the city apartment. “We talked about how this would be one way to upgrade the art in the city and also upgrade the art here,” Rodgers says. “When you present art differently, it has a different feel. It worked really well.”

The entire project worked well thanks to the professional and personal rapport between the designer and the homeowners. “The clients have high expectations,” Rodgers says, “but they’re also very nice, very reasonable and very understanding. They’re a lot of fun and they enjoy the process. They’re willing to look at things they wouldn’t have considered; that really helps make a project successful.”

A bold work of art inspired the color scheme in this guest room.

The homeowner has high praise for the designer who, over the years, has become a friend. “Meg is an outstanding professional with exquisite taste. We bought a spec house and weren’t able to select any of the finishes. She used the strengths of the home and developed a plan to remedy what didn’t work for us. It’s just beautiful. Every room has a unique character; every room shines in a different way.”

A guest bathroom was completely renovated. “Marguerite made it very organic,” the homeowner says. “It feels very updated and adds so much brightness to our second floor.”