Style, Home: The New Beach Home

It’s contemporary in design. It’s got smart wiring, a hot tub on the decks, TVs everywhere. And it has room for all the guests. It’s just what you need in a beach house–and then some.




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The rooftop is flat to accommodate outdoor entertaining and a hot tub, but the roofline is peaked to give the facade more dimension.
photograph by John Lewis


After years of vacationing in a townhouse in Dewey Beach, Dave Eppes was ready to build the getaway of his summer dreams—and he knew exactly where he wanted to start.

“At the top, with a hot tub on the roof,” he says.

His clearly defined wish list also included a dramatic entrance with a sweeping staircase, a sumptuous master suite with luxurious his and her baths, and wide open spaces for entertaining, all wrapped up in a hip, contemporary vibe.

“Clean, modern, glass and steel,” he says. “That’s the image I had in mind.”

To design a structure that would accommodate both his ideas and a large contingent of family and friends, Eppes turned to Susan Frederick, an architect with George, Miles & Buhr. She came up with a plan for a three-story, 6,000-square-foot house that makes the best use of the property without compromising on aesthetics.


The foyer staircase is made of santos mahogany, glass and steel. 
photograph by John Lewis 


“We had a long, skinny lot,” Frederick says. “How do we make it not look like a long, skinny house?”

The solution was a series of decks and screened porches that create visual interest as well as maximize the home’s beach block location. Though the top of the house is flat—the better to accommodate a large, al fresco entertaining area—the roofline was peaked to give the facade more dimension. A deck that wraps around the front and ocean sides of the house was engineered to make the most of the setting.

“We had to work really hard to cantilever the deck so the view is not inhibited,” Frederick says.

The vista also was enhanced by taking down an unsightly electric pole and burying the power lines outside the house.

“It isn’t as expensive or involved as people might think,” the architect says. “And when you compare a view of open sky to a view with lots of big, black power lines, the decision is simple.”

To flesh out the bones of the house with the sleek, contemporary finishes he envisioned, Eppes brought in Roseanne Brown of Taylor Made Interiors in Middletown.

Brown integrated seamless storage hidden behind panels of extraordinary woods to achieve a clean, uncluttered sensibility. The yacht-like built-ins in the master bedroom are crafted from bubinga, a rich, elegantly grained wood from equatorial Africa. In the gathering room, a cabinetry wall inset with benches is made from anigre, a pale gold, naturally lustrous exotic hardwood

“Because the design was so streamlined, we knew the wood had to make a statement in itself,” she says.

An artfully curved staircase in the first-floor foyer makes a dramatic first impression in wood, glass and steel. The treads and risers on the steps and floors throughout the public spaces are santos mahogany, which is characterized by superior hardness and color fastness.

“If you’re going to have a hardwood floor at the beach, this is it,” Eppes says.

Because the house was new, he had the opportunity to readily wire his home with smart technology. Bells and whistles include such treats as a flat-screen TV that descends from the ceiling for viewing, drapes that open and close, a retractable awning over the deck’s grill area, automatic hurricane shutters, and security and climate controls that can be accessed remotely.

“I can go online a few hours before I drive down to the beach and turn on the air conditioning so it’s nice and cool when I get here,” he says.


The state-of-the-art kitchen features a flat-screen TV above the range and an extra fridge in the pantry.
photograph by John Lewis




In the expansive, state-of-the-art kitchen, Eppes came up with a practical, low-tech idea: a hole drilled into the granite topping of a large central island that is handy for whisking away peelings and parings during meal preparation. A flat-screen television is inset in the wall above the commercial-style range.

“It’s an ideal spot for a TV because people are always gathered around the island,” he says.

He also planned for lots of guests. That meant outfitting a large pantry with a second, full-size fridge.

“When people come down, they bring food, so this gives them a place to put it,” he says.

To define the living area, Brown designed a wooden cove ceiling illuminated by drop lights with glass shades reminiscent of cow bells. The space is furnished in a mix of soft upholstered pieces, stools and occasional tables that can be readily reconfigured for parties.

“It’s pet friendly, it’s kid friendly, it’s guest friendly,” she says. “Nobody is afraid to sit down.”

Eppes and Brown traveled to the Marketplace, a to-the-trade-only design center in Philadelphia, to find the futuristic frosted glass and metal table in the dining area, which cleverly expands to seat 12.

“Dave is a great client because he has a wonderful eye himself and is a quick decision maker,” she says.

He did a lot of his own shopping, letting his fingers do the walking through the Internet. He discovered such finishing touches as steel roof shingles that look like tile, hinges that enable bi-fold doors to glide open or shut, synthetic panels that are indistinguishable from natural bamboo for the outdoor shower stalls and a capsule-like elevator that operates like a pneumatic tube.

“It’s a great way to shoot groceries up to the kitchen on the third floor,” he says.


The game room suits all ages.
photograph by John Lewis




An auxiliary kitchen on the second level is accessible to guest quarters, Eppes’ gym and a multi-generational game room, where the single dad hangs out with his two daughters, Mirissa, 15, and Cara, 13.

“Why have a second living room when we can have a game room?” he asks.

The girls had input into the project, weighing floor space against access to the open-air.


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