One of many barn doors
Office Nook in Kitchen
Owners Kris and Jenny Keller
Where the Breezes Blow
South Bethany home was oriented to catch nature's cooling airflow
By Lynn R. Parks | Photographs by Carolyn Watson
From the July 2022 issue
Before Sea Studio Architects drew up plans for Jenny and Kris Keller’s new home, they studied the light and the prevailing winds on the South Bethany lot.
“They knew that Kris doesn’t like air conditioning,” Jenny explains. “So they did a whole analysis and ended up kind of bending the house to maximize the breezes.”
The three-story portion of the house is parallel to the street; at the “bend,” a second, two-story section sits at a slight angle to the street. On the third floor, in the angle created by the bend, is a small deck that’s part of the couple’s bedroom suite.
To allow cooling breezes to come inside, nearly all of the windows have screens. That includes the floor-to-ceiling windows in the kitchen where Kris has a small workspace. Even the sashes behind his desk can open so he can enjoy any breezes when sitting at his computer.
The Kellers, who lived in Bel Air, Md., built their home after deciding to retire to South Bethany. They had a small vacation home in the nearby Cat Hill community, “but it wasn’t a retirement home,” Jenny says. “It didn’t have enough bathrooms” — she wanted four and the house had just two — “and it didn’t have enough storage.”
She and Kris wanted their new place to have an open floor plan and a large kitchen, but other than that, “it was a blank slate,” Jenny says. “The architect kind of guided us; I thought that we just wanted something cookie-cutter, but the more I looked at what they were showing us, the more I thought that more modern was the direction we wanted to go.”
Helping them were their daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Jeremy Rineer, both of them architects. Sarah has her own interior design firm in Bel Air and her husband is a project architect for the national engineering firm Whitman, Requardt and Associates.
Kris and Jenny bought the lot on which their home sits in 2016. Construction started in June 2019 and they moved in in January 2021.
On the ground floor, in addition to the garage and utility room, is a small sitting area, one wall of which is a glass garage door that can be slid up onto rails suspended from the ceiling.
A great room, the kitchen and two guest bedrooms are on the second floor. The fireplace in the living area is surrounded by large dark-gray ceramic tiles. When Jenny and Kris couldn’t find anything they liked for above the fireplace, Jeremy mounted a small plain clock with thin black hands on the tile and put around it 12 five-minute markers that he made from white oak, to match the floor as well as two floating shelves on a nearby shiplap wall.
Between the dining area and a back three-season porch are glass doors that can be folded back to make the two spaces one. One interior wall of the porch is covered in cedar boards, hung vertically, and exposed cedar beams are featured on both the porch and the dining area ceilings.
Ceiling beams in the kitchen are white oak, also matching the floor. Over white cabinets is a row of clerestory windows; a wooden ladder hanging from a black metal rod provides access to the uppermost storage space in the pantry.
On the third floor are two additional guest bedrooms and the master suite. Kris and Jenny’s bedroom has windows looking toward the south, west and north — “that view is why I wanted our bedroom up here,” Jenny says.
Hanging in the bedroom is a photograph of aspen trees in the snow in Colorado and another photo of Jenny and Kris sitting atop a rock in Yosemite National Park, with the iconic Half Dome in the background.
“It’s good to go away,” Jenny says, looking at the Yosemite photo. “But it’s always good to come back home again.”