A Luxury Home in Dewey Beach by Turnstone Custom Homes

Super Model: This elegant beach home is built to weather the storm.

At a Glance

Who Turnstone Custom Homes
What A luxury beach home
Where Collins Avenue, Dewey Beach


The big coastal house on Collins Avenue in North Indian Beach is built like a rock.

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Actually, it’s constructed from concrete.

The house is the baby of Turnstone Custom Homes, a luxury home-builder based in Rehoboth Beach. Turnstone—named for the small but powerful species of coastal bird—wanted to construct a home that could survive the gale winds and roiling waters of a Category Five hurricane, the most devastating of storms.

But this home is no bunker. The goal was to attract a buyer by creating a dwelling that was as beautiful as it was strong.

The price tag: $3.125 million.

“The owners had a clear idea of what they wanted to see,” says Susan J. Frederick, the Rehoboth Beach architect who designed the house. “We knew we could have extraordinary views if we sited the rooms appropriately.”

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In a high-end property, curb appeal is especially important. A double staircase leading to an open-air porch was a must-have item on the builders’ wish list.

“It’s a graceful entry to the house,” Frederick says. “This house has a bit of southern charm with its wrap-around porch and decks.”

In all, there are 2,800 square feet of deck space, a combination of expanses large enough for barbecuing and dining, plus small, intimate balconies off bedrooms designed to offer a private retreat.

The exterior style is traditional, revved up with the clean lines of a contemporary home. The mix of materials includes stone, siding and metal accent roofs.

“A metal roof really dresses up a house,” Frederick notes. “Plus, the metal is available in all sorts of colors so you can make a bold statement.”

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The living room offers comfort with a sectional sofa and upholstered chairs. photograph by Carolyn WatsonThe Sizzle

Interior finishes include granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and opulent tile baths with vertical inserts of contrasting stone. There are wood columns in the great room and a tray ceiling in the master bedroom. The master bath includes an extension for an outdoor shower.

Amanda Ryan says the home’s ultimate sizzle feature is its insulated concrete form or ICF construction, in which concrete is poured into interlocking forms and reinforced with steel rebar to form a web.

She is married to Harvey Ryan, who is a Turnstone principal with partner Don Stewart. She also listed the property at Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International Realty in Rehoboth Beach.

Beyond structural integrity, the technique provides better indoor air quality and insulation from noise, both inside and outside the house. A typical stick-built house has an insulation rating of R-19. An ICF home is twice that, rated at R-38.

“It’s extraordinarily energy efficient and can cut heating and cooling costs in half,” Ryan says. “It holds the heat in the winter and the cool in the summer.”

Structures built using ICF technology are renowned for durability. So how strong are they?

An ICF home is constructed to withstand a wall of water 20 feet high and the impact of debris being blown about by the winds of a tornado or hurricane. They also can survive a California wildfire.

Ryan points to a photograph of an
ICF-built house, still standing after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

“Everything around it was completely destroyed—but the house made it through unscathed,” she says.

The entire home, including the dining room, features 10-foot ceilings, crown molding and Brazilian cherry floors. photograph by Carolyn WatsonA Seagull’s View

The home’s crowning glory is its 1,800-square-foot rooftop deck. It is paved in aluminum treads that reflect the sun, which keeps the surface cool. No worries about walking around in bare feet on a sultry day.

It’s a tranquil sanctuary, with a covered pergola for al fresco dining and such custom niceties as a grill, granite-top bar, hot tub and a niche for sunbathing. There is a gull’s-eye view of both the ocean and the bay.

The builders didn’t leave the view to chance. They enlisted the aid of the Rehoboth Beach Fire Department for a lift to the proposed level of the rooftop so they could check out the vista before construction.

Inside, there are 7,150 square feet of living space—and the interior designer wanted to make certain the people who live there enjoy every inch.

Roseanne Brown, owner of Taylor Made Interiors in Middletown, had worked with Dave Eppes, Turnstone’s chief financial officer, to design and decorate his hip, contemporary get-away in Dewey Beach.

The Collins Avenue property is more traditional in feeling, with elegant crown moldings and Brazilian cherry floors. The proportions are gracious, with 10-foot ceilings and doors measuring eight feet tall.

“It had to appeal to a wide range of people because it’s a spec house,” Brown says. “So we decided to go with something that is timeless, classic.”

To set the mood, the builder turned to J. Conn Scott in Selbyville to choose furnishings and stage the house, the better to help prospective buyers visualize themselves living there.

The look is elegant yet relaxed. Informal seating—a sectional sofa and upholstered chairs framed in rattan—are clustered in front of the fireplace. A wicker trunk with leather straps serves as a cocktail table. There’s a four-poster bed in the master, with a cozy settee.

The master bedroom includes a tray ceiling and a four-poster bed. photograph by Carolyn WatsonSpace for Everyone

Brown says you don’t have to sacrifice style for practicality in choosing upholstery that can stand up to a constant flow of kids and company.

“Ultrasuedes are great for a beach house because they clean up with soap and water,” she says. “Indoor-outdoor fabrics have really evolved and hospitality fabrics, the kind they use in hotels, don’t look as institutional as they did years ago.”

Her strategy was to develop a floor plan that would welcome extended family and friends. After all, when you own a house at the beach, lots of folks want to visit. To achieve that goal, she created large, open gathering spaces, as well as cozy, smaller areas where people can enjoy time to themselves.

Instead of white or off-white, Brown added a layer of personality with sophisticated neutrals, painting the walls soft shades of pewter, sand and sage green.

Depending on how the buyers decide to designate the rooms, the house encompasses up to seven bedrooms, six full baths and two half-baths. The lower level can be finished to suit the buyer as recreational space or private guest quarters. An upstairs bonus room might be a home office, a den, a media room or an overflow guest room.

The kitchen is large, with room for multiple cooks. It’s open to both dining and living areas so families can stay visually connected. “I envisioned a lot of people working together in the kitchen,” she says.

Two massive islands can be pressed into service as prep areas, buffets or casual dining. To avoid an overly matched look, Brown designed the islands in different finishes.

Cooking is not an impediment to enjoying the outdoors. There’s a large window behind the cooktop. Shimmering glass tiles on the backsplash are reminiscent of the bay at sunset.

Concerned about lugging groceries up the stairs? No problem. The house is equipped with a large elevator.


Get the Look

  • Maximize your guest space. Instead of a single king-size bed, place two twin, full or queen-size beds in a room to accommodate guests who aren’t related. A queen bed and a set of bunk beds can provide enough space for a couple with young children.
  • Consider the contrast. Pale marble countertops look more opulent when teamed with dark wood, such as rich cherry cabinetry. Elegant moldings stand out in either crisp white paint or a deep wood stain.
  • Expand your palette of neutrals beyond white and off-white. Mix in soft sage greens, pewter grays and pale blues.
  • Outfit the master suite with a private outdoor shower, the ultimate in luxury beach living.
  • Be prettily pragmatic. Choose fabrics that look great but wear like iron, such as ultrasuede, indoor-outdoor material and textiles manufactured for hotels and restaurants.

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