Just Beachy

Vacation home bears all the marks of a house at the coast

By Lynn R. Parks | Photographs by Carolyn Watson
From the September 2014 issue

A visitor to the Rehoboth Beach home of Meghan Shupe and John Carbone would have little doubt that this is a beach house. Fabrics bear images of anchors and coral. Starfish are propped up in windows. And the palette includes beachy pastels — yellow, pale blue, coral and lime green.

“We are living at the beach, and we love it here,” says Meghan. “So we wanted our house to look like a beach house.”

This is a vacation home for Meghan and John, who live and work in Hagerstown, Md. He is president of Phoenix Color, a printing business, and she is the company’s marketing vice president. Meghan also has a small photography studio in Hagerstown. They share the house with John’s daughter, Christina, along with dogs Luciano (an 8-year-old Yorkshire terrier) and Veegio (a 9-year-old Shih Tzu).

Meghan and John bought their lot at the corner of Hickman Street and Bayard Avenue in 2010. Already there was a nondescript two-story house that they planned to have torn down: It didn’t meet any of their three criteria for a beach home.

“I had to have a pool,” Meghan says. “John had to have a pizza oven and a garage. We didn’t really want to build. But we couldn’t find a house that had those three things.”
The builder for the project was Echelon Custom Homes located just outside Rehoboth Beach, which also provided architectural services and helped with the interior design. Construction began in March 2012 and was completed 15 months later.

Meghan’s outdoor pool, 10 by 16 feet and a little more than 4 feet deep, is at the heart of the house. The building wraps around it the shape of the letter C, slightly top-heavy, with the opening facing Hickman Street. The great room, which includes the kitchen, is at the top of the C; stairs to the second floor run along the spine; and the master bedroom is at the bottom.

Upstairs, Christina’s bedroom is over the master bedroom and two guest rooms are over the great room. Narrow Juliet balconies look out over the pool from Christina’s room and one guest bedroom. 

Much of the downstairs flooring is made of wide pine boards, pickled to make them appear whitewashed. On the kitchen floor, large slate squares are the perfect complement to John’s pizza oven, which sits in the corner and is faced in stone. Meghan plans to commission a sign that reads “Villa Sul Mare” (“Villa on the Sea”) to hang on the stones.

The wall at the back of the house is also covered in wide pine boards, this time painted to look like old barn siding. Risers on the stairway are painted to look distressed and, in black script, bear sayings that John and other family remember his grandmother, the late Rose Fasano of New York City, uttering often:
“When you’re dead, you’re dead a long time.”
“You have to eat plenty of hard bread.”
“There’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead.”
“Is your uncle Con Edison? Shut the lights!”

“I really wanted to make the stairway stand out in some way, but it seemed that everything I came up with was against the building code,” says Meghan. “Putting the sayings on the risers was one thing we could do to make it unique.”

Each bedroom door is painted a different color: Coral for the master bedroom, pale blue for Christina’s room and green and yellow for the two guest rooms. A rolling barn door at the entrance to the downstairs bathroom is painted in all the colors, one per each vertical board. The towel rack in the bathroom is a length of rope, hanging in swags.

In the upstairs hallway, near the guest rooms, is a window seat that overlooks the pool. Nearby is a bookshelf, empty now but eventually, Meghan says, to be filled with family photo albums. She envisions a future when she and John live in their beach house year-round and she has the time to sit in the window seat and read.

“I love it here,” she says. “Every part of this house was fully thought out and we are really very happy with it. I really don’t ever want to leave.”

Lynn R. Parks is a regular contributor to Delaware Beach Life.