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Shore Amenities

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As the off season approaches, Shore homeowners will likely start to think about what's missing from their space. Could the backyard use a refresh? What if Mom can't make it up the steps next year? Should more technology be incorporated? House & Home spoke with professionals from various industries and discussed the popular amenities they've noticed popping up in Shore properties. With some careful consideration and planning, your summer retreat could feel like new.

Outdoor Options
Landscape design and planning is often prioritized on a primary home, but it shouldn't be ignored at a Shore home. "A Shore home is even more of a reason to prioritize outdoor living spaces as this is a 'getaway' from the normal everyday life of someone's primary residence. These spaces should be just as inviting, if not more, to evoke a sense of relaxation," says Mike Pasquarello, degreed landscape architect for Elite Landscaping.

Even the lack of a "big yard" shouldn't be discouraging. "Sometimes the smaller, intimate spaces tend to create a more inviting outdoor setting. Human nature is wanting to be in close proximity to the actual house while enjoying the outdoors. With many Shore homes you don't have a choice but to keep these creature comforts in close vicinity of each other," he says.

Of course, the top priority when planning these spaces is making sure it's low maintenance. Pasquarello says no one wants to do more work at their vacation home, so he incorporates ornamental grasses and perennial flowers that bring interest year after year.

Designers can also make your time outside more comfortable with the addition of interesting elements that aren't found everywhere. For instance, Pasquarello has installed patio water misters onto first-floor gutters. "They are connected to the irrigation system and emit a micro mist which cools off the ambient temperature of the space. They are also great at keeping away gnats and other pests."

Even though the off-season is ahead, the planning and design process takes time and shouldn't be rushed, he continues. "The off-season is a great opportunity to develop a well-thought-out plan and have everything in line to start construction when the weather breaks in March and is completed prior to the summer."

One of the hottest requests this year, as witnessed by Jake Stoltzfus of Barnco Woodworks, is seaside bars. After a day on the sand, people want to come back and relax in their own home and not deal with crowds at local watering holes, so they've brought the bar to them.

Stoltzfus says these outdoor bars can be custom designed and have 15 different siding options. Barnco can outfit them with a TV, fridge, grill, a countertop for bar stools, and they can even be screened in to keep the fun bug-free. If the customer prefers, it can be designed with a fully enclosed space to use as a changing room.

The best part about it, he adds, "The structures are pre-built. We bring it to your property with no mess and no cleanup. It saves a lot of time and doesn't interfere with the homeowner's schedule," Stoltzfus says.

Although Barnco has been busy with these projects, he says it's a good idea to reach out and plan what you want for next year to ensure it can be enjoyed all summer.

To complement the seaside bars, those in the outdoor furniture industry have seen the popularity of counter-height and bar sets rise. Allison DiGiovanni of Teak and Poly Outlet, says these are perfect for seeing over a deck or balcony railing and getting a better view of the water.

When it comes to outdoor furniture at the Shore, teak and polyethylene (poly) have proven to be the best at weathering the elements. DiGiovanni says their poly furniture has a 20-year warranty, 316L stainless steel hardware, won't fade and is heavy enough that it won't blow around in a storm. Made in the U.S., the furniture is available in 22 colors.

Teak is a great option for those who prefer wood. "It's made in Indonesia, won't splinter, rot or crack, and over the years it turns a silver color from being in the sun. It's very popular on boats because of the natural oils in the teak," she says. "Deep-seated teak sets are a hot request now."

The pandemic did put a strain on the outdoor furniture industry, says DiGiovanni. "We are stocked with items now, but if someone is looking for a custom order for spring, we recommend coming to us as soon as possible."

And when you are ready, Teak and Poly outlet provides white-glove service, delivering and assembling the pieces on site.

No Shore home is complete without an outdoor shower to help hose off sandy feet and hair. Avcon Enclosures has been in the industry for several decades and has developed outdoor enclosures made from the highest quality vinyl, aluminum and decking materials. Products have been tested in harsh environments of wind, rain and salty atmospheres.

Dawn Samuels, sales manager for the outdoor shower division, says most people have done away with the wood shower enclosure and opt for PVC aluminum showers. "In this world, less work is better, and there is no maintenance on these except for hosing them down. No painting or power washing needed," she says.

Kits come in different models. A site visit will determine which way the customer wants the faucet and the rest is designed around that. Accessories such as corner seating, towel hooks and a louvered roof can be incorporated, or some homeowners go with a complete outdoor bathroom. "The goal is, with everyone coming in off the beach, how do we keep them outside? The outdoor toilet system hooks into the septic or sewer system easily, so now you have a shower and bathroom without bringing sand into the home," Samuels says.

Home Automation
Shore homeowners likely have automated features in their primary home—speakers that respond to voice commands, temperature control via app and smart home security. There's no reason not to expect these features in their vacation home.

"Features such as lighting control, HVAC control, motorized shading and remote security monitoring add value to the home and peace of mind to the homeowner. Especially when many of these homes are secondary homes, our client's feel more comfortable knowing their home is safe and secure," says Neil Weissler, president of Shore Sound & Cinema.

"Home automation has come light years from when I first founded Shore Sound & Cinema almost 19 years ago. With the advent of smartphones and more sophisticated and smaller microprocessors, home automation is now very reliable and is actually fun to use."

Weissler does see certain amenities being requested more often, including lighting control and motorized shades. "Our clients ask for the ability to push a single button or give a voice command when they leave their homes to shut down the house and turn off all the lights. With systems from Lutron, Control4 and Josh.AI we can deliver on that request," he says. "Motorized shades are also a very popular request, and we offer spectacular solutions from Lutron. Lutron's Palladion shading systems are simply stunning and offer interior designers a huge volume of fabrics and styles."

Circadian or natural lighting is an up-and-coming technology, he continues. "As we become more health aware, proper lighting is very important. LED lighting has replaced the incandescent light bulb, but LED does not behave like incandescent lighting. It does not dim well and tends to be very bright/harsh. Fixtures and bulbs from Ketra allow us to control light in amazing ways. From a warm dim like an incandescent light bulb, to the ability to change colors or change light temperatures, Ketra is an eye-opening experience."

Weissler says there is never an off season for what he does at the Shore. "During fall and winter, we are designing, planning and prewiring homes that we will then be finishing in the spring for a summer move-in date." Any homeowner considering an upgrade in their automation should plan ahead. "Especially with the supply chain being so disrupted from COVID-19. Electronics, materials, copper wiring ... everything and everything is in limited supply, and high demand."

Owning a Shore home is no small investment. Many people worked hard to achieve that goal and it's likely that the home has been part of generations' worth of memories. As certain family members age, they may have trouble accessing all parts of the home. An elevator can completely change that experience.

Todd Trovarello, CEO of Personal Elevator, has been in the residential elevator industry since 1993. Elevators are becoming standard in new construction of Shore homes, he says. "Most new homes have the reverse-style living layout, with the kitchen and living spaces on an upper floor. Elevators are being included so the clients have access without having to walk up the steps with luggage or groceries."

This feature makes a difference when it comes to selling or renting, he adds. "If a family with elderly parents wants to rent a home at the Shore, they don't want anyone excluded from the vacation so an elevator is definitely something on their wish list."

However, homes built in the '70s, '80s or '90s most likely don't have elevators and Trovarello says his company is doing more retrofitting than ever before.

Elevators are completely customizable whether retrofitted or new build, he says. A 5-foot-by-5-foot space is needed, interior or exterior, for the elevator shaft, and can be made to match existing hallway flooring, cabinets and even hardware. "It's nice for the homeowner to know it can be customized based on their budget, and there is an option for everybody. We can do safety glass panels on the outside of the shaft to complement the windows on the home, or add upgraded amenities such as automatic gate operators and automatic cab lights," Trovarello says.

Safety is top of mind as well. "All residential elevators need to be permitted, and once approved and installed, they are inspected per the national elevator code," he says. To further add confidence to his customers, Trovarello says his projects are completed by staff only, with no involvement of subcontractors, to ensure elevators are installed properly and up to standards.

Avcon Enclosures
Lakewood, N.J.
(800) 242-8266

Barnco Woodworks
Berlin, N.J.
(856) 767-6887
Swedesboro, N.J.
(856) 241-7660

Elite Landscaping
Berlin, N.J.
(856) 753-1944

Personal Elevator
Serving the tri-state area
(800) 864-1815

Shore Sound & Cinema
Northfield, N.J.
(609) 645-1300

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 21, Issue 11 (Fall 2021). 
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