Modernism and Maple
Contemporary lines complement North Shores home’s wood trim and flooring — and its uninterrupted views of nearby nature
By Lynn R. Parks | Photographs by Carolyn Watson
From the May 2018 issue
During thunderstorms, Sue Gallamore loves to sit in the living room of her Rehoboth Beach-area house and watch lightning strike the ocean.
Northeasters are also fun, says her husband, Bob. “During a storm, the waves can be 10, 12, even 15 feet high,” he says. “It looks like we can reach out and touch them.”
The Gallamore home is on Ocean Drive north of Rehoboth, at an entrance to the North Shores development. While there are other homes toward the east, between it and the beach, the property on which the house sits abuts the Gordons Pond area of Cape Henlopen State Park. So to the west, north and northeast, the view is unbroken by any development.
The two-story structure, erected on pilings, is built to take full advantage of those views, says John Mateyko, who designed the home. “No matter where you are, you are always looking through the space to the view,” notes the architect. That includes the kitchen, where a person standing at the sink or the island can look outside in nearly all directions, and in the master bathroom, where there are windows above the tub and in the shower.
The Gallamores bought the land on which their house sits, and a beach cottage already there, in 1995. When they hired Lewes/Newark-based Mateyko to figure out the best way to have a larger house, “he got out there and climbed up to the top of the cottage roof to see the view. And that roof is really steep!” Sue says. “When he came down, he said, ‘I know what we can do.’”
The cottage was moved to the west edge of the lot. New construction went up to the east, and the two were joined to make a 6,000-square-foot house. Construction took place from 2001 through early 2003; the contractor was Jelock Builders of Ocean View.
The Gallamores used the house as a vacation home, then became full-time area residents in 2006. The dwelling can sleep 16, important when accommodating their four children and 13 grandchildren.
Sue says she and Bob gave Mateyko few instructions, other than that they wanted something modern. “I had always lived in a traditional house, and I wanted something contemporary and unadorned,” she explains, noting that the home they moved from in Omaha, Neb., was an early 20th-century Tudor, which they had filled with antiques. “I was ready for all-new.”
Mateyko says the home has a modernist feel. In second story living area are exposed rafters and some exposed mechanical equipment, including the fireplace flue and a vertical air exchanger (a cold air return). Both steel-gray pipes are next to the fireplace, in the main sitting area.
The home has plain maple wainscoting nearly throughout, maple floors and trim and maple built-in cabinets. The frames of the numerous skylights are wrapped in maple veneer; light coming through the skylights bounces off the maple, as well as the exposed Douglas fir beams, adding illumination and interest to the house’s appearance, Mateyko says.
Bob, an economist with a specialty in railroad economics, wanted to incorporate some element of that interest in the house. The posts and beams that hold the structure up “are the same type of construction that you would use for a railroad trestle,” Mateyko notes.
And as a book lover and author — his most recent work is “American Railroads: Decline and Renaissance in the Twentieth Century,” published in 2014 by the Harvard University Press — Bob wanted plenty of space for his collection. There are bookcases through the house, “tucked in every little niche [Mateyko] could find,” he says.
Walls above the wainscoting, in most of the house, are painted white. The kitchen walls are turquoise, chosen to complement the ocean view. There’s also a break in the kitchen from the maple flooring: Half of the floor, on the side of the sink, is covered with slate tiles. On a shelf above the sink is Bob and Sue’s collection of pitchers from all over the world. Two china guinea hens sit on the granite-topped island.
The master suite is on the first floor. The built-in bed and bedside stands are made of maple. Maple wainscoting extends across one long wall and around the corner, ending at a gas-burning fireplace.
The Gallamore home is heated and cooled by a geothermal heat pump. This spring, Sue and Bob plan to put solar panels on the roof, which will generate sufficient energy to run the system’s fans as well as to heat water and power the home’s lights, Mateyko said.
Outside, the yard is planted in native trees, including scrub pine, river birch and sycamore, to blend with those in the state park. The Gallamores have carved out space for a badminton court and a horseshoe pit. Beneath the house, squeezed between rows of pilings, is a bocce court. Overhead lights mean that bocce fans can play day or night.
“This is a fun house, and we enjoy living here,” says Bob. “The birds wake us up in the morning, and in the afternoons it’s a quiet place for me to write.” He’s working on a book about state capitols and their locations relative to train routes.
“We pretty much gave John carte blanche when he was designing,” Sue adds. “We had never built a house before, and we didn’t really understand what our role would be. But everything turned out well. We love it here.”
Lynn R. Parks is a regular contributor to Delaware Beach Life.