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Making a Statement

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There was a time when not much thought was put into the décor of a Shore house. After all, it was usually just used as a vacation home, not a primary residence, and days spent there were more about enjoying the beach and the outdoors than sitting inside. As a result, homeowners often went with the simplest solutions available, rarely got creative in their design aspects and ended up with interiors that resembled everyone else’s on the block.

My, how things have changed. With remote work making longer stays down the Shore more feasible, people are more interested in creating a stylish space they feel comfortable in, and are working with experienced designers to bring the latest and greatest products on the market into their vacation homes.

“We’re seeing a lot more people care more and more about making it personalized,” says Kyle Eisele of Coast Tile & Marble Supply. “For a long time, everybody just wanted what was easy: They wanted to get it done so they could get into their home and start enjoying it. Nowadays, they’re putting more time and care into making these selections because they’re spending a lot more time at these vacation homes. It’s not just an occasional weekend in the summer that they come down—they’re spending Christmas down here and spending time throughout the offseason here, along with extended weekends in the summer. So they want it to be that oasis, that escape, the opportunity to get away from the everyday life and find that place where they can relax and call it their home away from home.”

House & Home spoke to several local professionals about the recent trends in Shore interior décor, including accent pieces, appropriate furniture, the most sensible flooring options and the finishing touches that window treatments provide.

Kitchens and baths
Coast Tile & Marble Supply is a third-generation family business that has been operating at the Shore since the 1960s. Eisele notes that the entire team has been energized by the recent push by homeowners to add exciting elements to their interiors.

“Probably in the last year, we’ve seen people come in wanting to make bolder choices and make things speak to their own personality and creativity, which opens up the whole showroom to us,” he says. “We’ve spent a lot of time trying to bring in products that are more unique, different and exciting, and now we’re finally seeing people who are more willing to use those looks and bring that home to life more. So it’s been great for us and we’re having a lot of fun working with these homeowners, designers and builders and coming up with something that is going to look different. They don’t want it to look like their neighbors’ anymore, they want it to speak to who they are and let their creativity show through in their designs.”

Open concepts are quite common in Shore homes, many of which have kitchen and bar areas side by side as gathering places for friends and family. Homeowners are getting bolder in their choices for backsplashes and accent pieces in these areas, using materials such as tile, marble and natural stone in a variety of colors.

“We’re seeing a big jump in the vibrant colors,” Eisele says. “Because we’re a beach town, we definitely play to the nautical tones, which are going to be your traditional blues and your softer pastel colors. The newest color schemes we’re starting to see are greens, purples and pinks. People are definitely more willing to utilize that style to draw out the nautical theme in their kitchen and bar backsplashes.”

That creativity carries over to the bathrooms, although since there are often multiple baths in a Shore home, they may have to pick and choose which ones to go all out in for budgetary reasons. Eisele says the master bathrooms and powder rooms are usually where homeowners devote most of their attention and dollars, followed by the kids’ bathrooms and then toning it back in any additional baths. Whichever bathroom they are focusing on, there are options upon options.

“We have a two-story showroom and we probably have about 4,000 different products for them to choose from,” Eisele says. “Each product can be combined with a variety of different looks to create an overall completely different vibe in each bathroom, so the possibilities are endless and they allow people to be creative. In our industry 25 years ago, you could pick between a handful of options. Nowadays, we could have 500 people walk in here and pick out something that’s completely different. It’s really a cool opportunity now for people to pick out something that is unique to them.”

As for flooring, once again homeowners are no longer just relying on old standards but are branching out to stand apart from the crowd. “What’s really fun is people are switching from that basic wood look to a variety of different larger formats, huge pieces of tile that have some character and texture and really speak to being unique,” Eisele says.

He personally vouches for porcelain tile, which was a huge benefit in his own home when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012.

“We got 27 inches of water in the house, and afterwards we just took a hose right to our porcelain floor and it looked like it did the day it was installed,” he says. “From a durability and long-lasting perspective, you can’t beat porcelain. There are thousands of different porcelain looks, so it’s not like you’re going to be limited to any options when you decide to go with a porcelain floor. When you’re tracking sand and water off the beach and into the house, the easiest for care and maintenance is going to be a porcelain floor.”

Furnishing the home
Therese Simon, a designer at Oskar Huber Furniture & Design’s Long Beach Island location, shares Eisele’s view that homeowners are spending more time in their Shore houses throughout the year, even hosting parties related to the holidays, weddings and milestone birthdays. She also has many clients who plan on one day retiring to these areas, so they want to create a space that is just like their primary homes with comfortable, high-end furniture.

Therefore, it’s often a balancing act between choosing items that fit with a beach theme and those pieces that suit their overall style.

“Around this area, we get a mixture,” Simon explains. “Some people say, ‘I want to do coastal, but I don’t want it to be kitschy. I want it to be a more sophisticated look, a more modern look.’ Depending on the client, some people are going modern farmhouse, but the trend is definitely toward a more modern feel, cleaner lines, more minimalistic, less heavy on the accessories, but [using] bigger accessories: big, beautiful pictures, nice lamps, big vases, that type of thing. They’re more statement pieces, and rugs are really important here too. They love a rug that expresses their personality and they tie it in with the furniture.”

Shore homes often have unique footprints compared to other residences, and may have tiny nooks that can be filled with nautical bookcases, shelving, pouf tables or personal items brought from the primary residence, Simon adds.

With many different bedrooms to furnish, she says Oskar Huber clients often do a mixture of traditional bedroom sets with custom-made options from several Amish companies they partner with.

“People here tend to spend more on bedrooms now because they want quality, first of all, and also they want more choices,” she says. “Where it used to be just white, now they want a distressed gray or something with different hardware or something that speaks to them and their style. So they’re going more custom [in the primary bedrooms], but in the guest room that’s not used too often they might use a bedroom set that doesn’t cost as much.”

The supply-chain issues from recent years are starting to be resolved, leading to fewer delays and better pricing for furniture. Simon says January is when preparation for the summer season really starts to pick up, with showrooms getting busier and busier in the months leading up to Memorial Day.

“I love every minute of it, even the crazy times, because you meet so many great, interesting people from all different walks of life,” she says. “I love connecting with them, getting to know them, getting to know their style and filling that need for them. At the end of the process when their furniture is delivered, they end up loving it and they refer people because of that.”

Window treatments
DeSatnick’s Window Fashions is celebrating its 50th year in business, and while the company will often travel to towns like Haddonfield, New Jersey, and Malvern, Pennsylvania, to work with loyal customers, the majority of its focus continues to be in the Shore towns of Cape May County. Owner/partner Chad DeSatnick, the son of the original owners, says window treatments of all styles are being used not only for homeowners spending more time at their vacation homes, but also as a way to attract renters in investment properties.

He says plantation shutters are among the most in-demand products because of the benefits they have in a coastal community.

“They’re resistant to moisture, they’re resistant to hot and cold temperature fluctuations, they’re super easy to clean and they’re durable,” DeSatnick explains. “We say that once you install plantation shutters, you don’t have to worry about another window treatment for the life of the window. It’s not necessarily the style that 100% of the clients like, but when people start weighing out their options, they realize it’s something that can give them privacy, light protection and insulation, and that plantation shutters are a great value for windows.”

Of course, there are plenty of other options as well, and automation is always popular and available for most selections. “We use Silhouettes, which are sort of a blind and shade in one,” he adds. “It gives you the option to roll the shade down, but it also has louvers that you can open and close. We do a lot of woven-wood shades that have bamboo, matchstick and hemp material options. We also have access to Roman shades, so people will pick out specific material and we can make some Roman shades or custom draperies.”

The company is an authorized showcase dealer for Hunter Douglas, one of the leading names in the industry, and DeSatnick says that is helpful to clients not only because of the wide variety of styles available, but also because the products are made in the U.S., so if parts or repairs are needed, it’s a quick turnaround time. However, they work with other manufacturers as well, especially in addressing unique window shapes that can often be found in Shore homes.

“It’s actually interesting because a lot of times architects will design houses and they’ll have an oval window in the master bedroom that faces east,” DeSatnick says. “What people don’t realize is once they get in the house, that oval window—which looks awesome aesthetically—has sun coming in at first light. So it looks great, but functionally what are you supposed to do to cover this window, because you at least want the ability for privacy or light protection. So we absolutely deal with specialty shapes and a lot of the manufacturers we work with have options, whether they’re remote-controlled, manual or fixed. We can accommodate any type of window and there are certainly a variety of windows available in the market right now.”

DeSatnick’s can also be of assistance for any style of home, and it’s rewarding to go from town to town or neighborhood to neighborhood and help bring a client’s vision to life.

“I think that’s the appeal for me to continue in the business,” DeSatnick says. “You have the Southern California-style modern homes, the Nantucket-style beach cottages, and then you have the Victorian homes that were built 200-plus years ago. It’s really cool to be able to go into these people’s homes and see what they have done to modernize a 200-year-old home while also keeping the integrity and the look. A lot of times you see the outside of the house and they’ve used cedar shakes and they’ve painted it the right color for the Historic Preservation Committee in Cape May, but then you go in and there’s modern-style tile or a kitchen that has Viking [appliances]. It’s cool to see all the different styles that people choose from, and to help them out with what they need.”

Coast Tile & Marble & Supply
Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
(609) 646-9346

DeSatnick’s Window Fashions
Cape May, N.J.
(609) 884-2545

Oskar Huber Furniture & Design
Ship Bottom, N.J.
(609) 494-8127
Southampton, Pa.
(215) 355-4800

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 23, Issue 3 (Spring 2023). 
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