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This Rehoboth Beach Home Is the Best of New England and Nantucket

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Photo by Don Pierce

A coastal Rehoboth Beach home pushes the envelope on New England shingle style with a Nantucket design mixed with traditional accents.

Wilmington-based designer Bruce Palmer created the interiors for this 10,000-square-foot home near Rehoboth Beach (architect: OSK Design Partners). Palmer coaxed the clients toward a transitional style with plenty of layers to contrast with their more traditional primary home in Virginia. In the double-height great room, the circle inside the plus sign, over the mantel, became the home’s visual motif.

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The home’s blue exterior, with its turret and variegated rooflines, is ornate, and though it nods to Nantucket shingle style, it also boasts unexpected pillars and stonework/Photo by Don Pierce

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The house’s turret—an architectural feature borrowed from Nantucket’s style—demanded a circular staircase, but what Palmer crafted is especially sinuous and light due to its open risers./Photo by Don Pierce

When homeowners with a primary house in Virginia were interviewing architects to build a 10,000-square-foot home outside Rehoboth Beach, they struck a deal with Paul Kiss from OSK Design Partners in New Jersey. And they especially admired the interiors of one of OSK’s projects in Bethany Beach. The interior designer: Wilmington-based Bruce Palmer, who excels at coastal contemporary aesthetics.

Palmer describes the resulting house as cedar shake, coastal Nantucket, but the enormous home is quite a bold interpretation of that: For one thing, the shingles are deep blue instead of neutral, and the exterior includes stone and columns. In addition, the turret is especially dominant, more eye-catching than would be found on Massachusetts’ islands—or perhaps that’s because of the color. In sum, the audacious façade sends multiple signals that behind its doors, bold choices are in store.

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Photo by Don Pierce

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A whimsical powder room is wrapped, monochromatically, in chocolate bronze./Photo by Don Pierce

It didn’t start out that way. The clients initially gravitated toward a more traditional style—their Virginia home, with its Old World formality and elaborate carvings, falls into that category. But Palmer suggested they “switch it up a little bit—you already have traditional,” he told them. “Let’s make more of a fun beach house,” with traditional elements in a transitional wrapper. Surprises include a tropical guest bedroom awash in green, a child’s bedroom that looks dipped in glossy cobalt, and a sweeping, swoon-worthy staircase set within the turret.

The double-height great room, with its commanding views of the sea and the oversized plunge pool, anchors the home. It is characterized by its vast scale—and its unexpected details. “Obviously you want to maximize the view if you’re oceanfront,” Palmer says, “but still create a space that contains furniture in scale with everything, so some of it has to be just a little bit larger, a little bit deeper to fit within the proportions of the room.” Oversized sofas (down-filled in a chenille yarn) from A Rudin deliver most of the seating. Shallow arms emphasize the relaxed, soft experience of the custom pieces: “You just want to sink into them and enjoy the view,” Palmer says.

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The great room, with its view of the plunge pool and the beach, features deep-seated custom sofas from A Rudin, a coffee table from Four Hands, sconces sourced from Visual Comfort and mirrors from Holly Hunt Studio H/Photo by Don Pierce

But beyond the comfy blue seating, the designer conceived the room in layers to encourage the eye to move around the space, so he included pedestals; details on the bookcases; sconces beside the TV; a different set of sconces, with a nautical flavor, between the first and second floor; and a line of circular convex mirrors from Holly Hunt just below the ceiling. There’s very little negative space to be found.

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The premier bath provides ocean views from the glassed-in shower and the free-standing soaking tub from Ferguson/Photo by Don Pierce

“Your eye continues up and everything still looks furnished and finished,” he explains. A pair of driftwood and metal chandeliers, which the client fell in love with at Restoration Hardware, likewise draw the eye up.

Above the marble fireplace and TV, he created the home’s motif: a monochromatic, relief circle set within a plus sign. “It’s repeated in the kitchen cabinet doors, in some of the mirrors in the exercise room and in the second-floor interior windows,” Palmer points out.

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The dining room, with its homey beadboard ceiling, maintains the home’s wood flooring and blue fabrics./Photo by Don Pierce

Various other doors in the home pick up the theme as well, because after all, a house this formidable must brandish a signature to announce itself.


RELATED: Ocean Views Abound Throughout This Custom Bethany Beach Home