In Dewey Beach, a Dwelling Fit for a Mermaid

This beach house was made for making memories.

Liz Carter laughs when she says she believes she lived a previous life as a mermaid. But when you visit her Dewey Beach home, you might believe she’s on to something.  

Though it’s probably not the best habitat for a mythical aquatic creature, it’s close. If Liz and Scott Carter’s beach house could talk, it would be an ambassador for the memories people cherish from their beach vacations: sun, sand, surf, friends, laughter and food. And it epitomizes the yin and yang of a vacation home: a sanctuary just a short bicycle ride to the heart of a resort renowned for nightlife and parties.

Situated in The Chancellery, a neighborhood on the south end of Dewey Beach, the home is just a few steps away from a private beach on the Atlantic. Inside, the upper level decks offer expansive views of the ocean—sunrises—as well as Rehoboth Bay—sunsets.

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Despite the 8,000-square-foot presence and six bedrooms, the interior gives the welcoming aura of a mid-century summer cottage, but with all the amenities vintage cottages wished they had.

The media room is anchored by a gleaming copper-topped bar.

The exterior exudes serious welcoming factors, with cedar shingles, a semi-circular driveway, and decks on the second and third levels and the roof. In the summer, crape myrtles, beach grasses and Knockout roses soften the corners and create some privacy.

There’s a convenient outdoor shower, but the original owner built the home in 2007 with contemporary mechanical systems, including geothermal heating-cooling. They are unseen, but appreciated year-round. “We always go to the beach for New Year’s,” Liz Carter says.

Liz Carter grew up in Wilmington and savors fond memories of vacationing with her parents in Rehoboth Beach as a child. A decade or so later, when she and Scott became parents, they bought their first beach home, in Rehoboth. That house is now a rental property, and the Carter children—Kyle, Meghan and Conor—are now young adults.

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When this Dewey Beach home became available six years ago, the Greenville residents realized that it matched their lifestyle, so they moved to the larger digs. “It is my dream house. I love this house,” Liz says. 

This house is “upside down,” she says, joking about the inverted design. The best views are upstairs, in the most popular rooms: the kitchen, dining area and living room.

Upon stepping through the front door, guests experience a sense of openness and space. The best of the outdoors is translated to interior comfort. The beach is symbolized by the nautilus shell motif on area rugs.

Views of the bay and ocean can be enjoyed
from the spiral staircase.

The stairway extends from the foyer up, creating more of an open feeling. Whimsical, brightly hued beach-themed paintings set a welcoming mood.

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The media room on the first level, complete with overstuffed couches and chairs, multiple TVs and plenty of space, is where “the kids” hang out. The room is anchored by a gleaming copper-topped bar. The open floor plan makes all the amenities, including conversation alcoves, easily accessible.

The color scheme mirrors the beach: sand, shades of blue on the aqua portion of the spectrum, with the crisp white of puffy clouds accentuating the wainscoting, crown molding and trim. 

The winding staircase between floors has a traditional architectural trim, yet each turn is marked by an opportunity to pause at the windows to catch a peek at either the Rehoboth Bay or the Atlantic Ocean. Plantation blinds are an option when there is a desire for privacy.

At the entrance, a collage of photographs of their children sets a friendly tone to the family’s private space. The second floor houses three of the home’s bedrooms, each with a private bath. There are two more guest rooms on the third level. Carter relied on her own tastes rather than a professional interior decorator. She says that at the beach, less is more when it comes to tchotchkes and decorative accessories.

“Here, I like things just clean and simple,” she says, leading a tour through her daughter’s bedroom and the larger room that her two sons share. A glass curio case on the landing is the only place Carter displays a personal collection, her porcelain mermaids.

The master suite, across the hallway, extends the length of the ocean side of the home. It is complemented by not only the view, but also access to decks. As in the rest of the home, the area features tray ceilings and recessed lighting.

The suite includes two full bathrooms, his and hers. Mr. Carter’s bath showcases a soaking tub with an ocean view, a separate stone shower, and an entrance to his walk-in closet. Mrs. Carter can relax, if she chooses, in her claw-foot bathtub. The sand-and-sky color scheme is punctuated here by pillows in coral and sunset hues. Once again, plush furnishings offer comfort in the midst of open space.

Up another level, the kitchen is any cook’s dream in terms of design and appliances. There is, for example, a commercial Wolf stove backed by shimmery turquoise mosaic tile. In another setting the white cabinetry and stainless steel appliances might seem sterile, but not here. 

A spacious island with a center wet bar offers an opportunity for diners to interact with the chef.

A spacious island with a center wet bar offers an opportunity for diners to interact with the chef. A round dining table gives an unobstructed view of the ocean. Windows on the west side provide a view of the bay (think sunsets), and there is yet another conversation nook created in the midst of an open layout.

Guests are just as likely to join Scott Carter, a self-employed entrepreneur, on the deck. He mans a grill large enough to cook for the crowd, thus providing the fare for some great summer memories.

“Every July Fourth I have family and friends over for a large barbecue,” Liz Carter says. “We all hit the decks when fireworks start. On the rooftop deck you can see as far away as Bethany and across the ocean to the Jersey Shore.”

A canopy shelters rattan couches and chairs, creating a shaded, al fresco living room facing the Atlantic. 

Summer, sun and fireworks are great, but what is a Delaware summer without crabs? Watercolor prints of blue crabs hang prominently in the kitchen as symbols of good times.

“Crab feasts are always a favorite,” Scott Carter says. “My birthday is in the summer, and my favorite thing is eating crabs on my deck looking at the ocean. This is the place we all love to be.” 

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