Located on an enviably positioned lot in North Shores in Rehoboth, an ample beach compound sat in unenviable condition. Todd Davis, a principal with the Miami Beach–based Brown Davis Architecture & Interiors along with Rob Brown, explains that Rehoboth didn’t exactly have an exalted architectural history. “Rehoboth wasn’t like Nantucket during whaling times, or like Maine,” he says. “It didn’t have that wealth. The houses were just basic cottages and farmhouses.”
So the firm went to work, overhauling the early 20th-century home inside and out, creating a simulation of what the house might have looked like in the first place (the three-bedroom main house is 3,000 square feet, with an additional three-bedroom guesthouse). “We started with the architecture,” Davis says. New serene blue shingles, oak floors, square wood paneling on the walls, evocative beadboard ceilings and round decorative windows to suggest portholes were added to look like they’d always been there.
The interiors feature a subtle midcentury touch. “We were channeling kind of a 1950s era,” Davis explains. In the foyer, a cherry console from Scala Luxury—with its grid of circles—is a tone-setter. In the living room, Brown Davis custom designed a gray sectional and purchased reproduction standing lamps that also nod to the midcentury. Purple throw pillows provide color pops. One concession to the way we live now is the open-style kitchen: The designers knocked down a wall, using Oak Construction in Lewes for the job. Still, the starburst chandelier above the island continues the 1950s theme.
Upstairs, the master bath is cleanly clad in subway tiles, while the window seat in the master bedroom looks like it has always been there. (Before Brown Davis got their hands on the home, this was just empty space.) Look closely to see that the walls are covered in a wood-facsimile wallpaper.
As befitting a beach house, much of the house’s energy derives from the wide front porch. “That porch wraps around the house,” Davis explains. “It’s always been screened, but we installed a system of plastic shades that can seal in the porch for the winter, but also for bad weather so it can be air-conditioned.” Thus, the space was made more functional, with a large dining table with purple wood and wicker chairs, and a hanging egg chair. Davis says he was determined that the home not be a cookie-cutter cottage with the typical blue and white coastal furnishings.
“It’s a fun little house,” he says—but one that took six years. Changes in concept and the uncertainty of the financial crisis caused delays, but once construction commenced, the project was completed within a year. “What we learned is that you can throw a ton of money at decorating things,” Davis says, “but if you removed all the architectural elements from this house, it would look kind of boring and not finished. That’s why we’ve gone into architecture, to set the stage before the props come in.”