When you work in real estate and become adept at flipping houses like Beth Hughes, there’s always the possibility that you can become attached. And when that happens, that’s when you know you’re really good at what you do.
Hughes, a Compass real estate agent licensed in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, had every intention to flip the 3,000-square-foot home she’d transformed on Coventry Road in Rehoboth Beach, but because of the pandemic, she ended up living in the five-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath house herself—and throwing more than a few parties there.
“I love taking a house apart and putting it back together,” she says. “I love walking into a house and seeing the potential. Every time I would flip a house, I would design it, and for all my developers, I would design their kitchens.” That’s a room of special interest to Hughes, who was a chef and owned her own catering company for 25 years before turning to real estate. She says the biggest mistake people make with regard to kitchens is misjudging how the room fits within the flow of their home, compromising their ability to entertain.
“I’ll see islands running down the middle of the kitchen, with the entrance at one end,” she says. “When you’re entertaining or have friends over, they’re basically sitting in the middle of your workspace. When I design a kitchen, I design it for entertaining as well as for cooking.”
For this particular kitchen, she built a massive peninsula with a wine fridge on the end of it, “so my friends wouldn’t come into my space to get something out of the refrigerator,” she explains. Hughes also makes sure to provide a focal point in the kitchen—in this case, the back wall clad in blue Riad tile.
The home that Hughes created resists labels: “It has a curated style,” she says. “I have bit of boho beach house, a little bit of midcentury. I have things that have been in my family, I have pieces that I’ve had for years and love that just go from house to house, and I have industrial pieces.”
And she didn’t hesitate to reimagine the interior architecture to suit these beloved pieces. In the living room, she changed out the gas fireplace for electric and painted it a shade of iron ore to match the chimney. The wood for the built-in benches came from her family farm. Add a woven seagrass rug, round midcentury Tulip tables, a soft sofa from Blu Dot and a huge ottoman, and the effect is a casually inviting mix of industrial, modern, organic and rustic. The floors throughout are from Stuga.
“I wanted a lot of seating, but I didn’t want a lot of furniture,” she explains. “I had a party that was supposed to be 10 people that turned into 25, and everyone was able to sit down and eat. It functioned really well, and I think that’s my catering and event planning background, which plays into how I design.”
The dining room immediately registers as midcentury. She found orange Swing chairs (designed by Gerd Lange for Drabert in Germany, in the ’60s) in a shop in D.C., “and then I searched forever until I found another set—which are the white ones.” And true to curated form, the eye-catching piece behind the dining set is a vintage doctor’s office cabinet. “For the past 15 years, it’s gone into every house I’ve had.”