Living & Chilling in Lavallette

The planks on the mile long boardwalk — rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy — contain engraved messages from town residents and vacationers. Photo courtesy of Ocean County Business Development & Tourism.

There is something special about Lavallette: a family-friendly community located on the Barnegat Peninsula in Ocean County, New Jersey. Kids walk or ride their bikes to the beach, playground or ice-cream parlor, neighbors convene with their morning coffee on the boardwalk pavilion and families return year after year for summer fun. It’s a town less than a square mile in area, but the memories made here that span generations are immeasurable. One couple who purchased a home near extended family members even named their son after the Lavallette street where they met and lived as children. How’s that for strong community ties!

Bottom Left: Photo courtesy of Ocean County Business Development & Tourism.

Town Features & Amenities
Lavallette, incorporated in 1887, is located on a barrier island with the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Barnegat Bay on the west. The borough has less than 3,000 permanent residents, but summer tourists flood into town from Memorial Day until Labor Day for a bevy of town-sponsored events and recreational activities. Beaches, replenished after Hurricane Sandy, are pristine with designated areas for swimming, surfing and fishing. Visitors can also boat, windsurf and water ski on Barnegat Bay, where the sunsets are spectacular. This walkable community, with easy access to downtown shopping and restaurants, is also home to a public library, multiple parks, playgrounds and a legendary yacht club. For more information — including daily, weekly and seasonal beach badge fees — visit

Trends in New Construction
Prominent Lavallette-based builder Walter Kosenski — owner of Walter G. Kosenski II Inc. & Sons Coastal Building — cites advancements in building materials and techniques such as “hurricane tie-downs” and great new maintenance-free materials and products that help withstand the test of time. “It’s amazing the amount of additional hardware that are in these houses” that meet the challenges of coastal conditions, he says. In addition, “We do a lot of reverse living, with kitchens on the third floor to take advantage of the views and elevation.” This also “opens up a lot of possibilities like cathedral ceilings or more usable living space and storage on the ground level.” 

Why People Live Here
For Joe and Sherry Karas, who purchased property in this quaint shore town in 2007, the decision was easy. “We were looking a little further north” until a friend suggested Lavallette, Sherry Karas recalls. “We knew it must have some magic since many families who live here [like her friend] are multi-generational.” Besides easy access to the bay and beach, “We’ve always liked walking towns with downtown shopping and restaurants,” she says. But her “absolute favorite part is the way each street has its own beach entrance, which creates a neighborhood experience,” she says. On any given day at the beach, whether the gathering is small or large, “we sit in a circle, tell stories, talk about books we just read and keep up to date on each family’s adventures.”

Located on an ocean block, the Karases classic coastal style home is just steps from the beach. “We use the house continuously from May through most of September and then several times throughout the rest of the year,” says Karas, an interior designer and owner of Whitney Interiors in Bernardsville.

The exterior is clad in Seagrass, weather-resistant shingles by Cedar Impressions. Ocean views are captured from the second-level deck. Photo by Marco Ricca, Design NJ June-July 2016. Architect: Michael Melillo of Melillo Architecture; builder: Kristian Kozlowski of Kozlowski Construction; landscaping and bluestone patio, Bay Head Landscaping & Nursery.

“My husband likes to cook and I like to entertain so the kitchen really works for us,” Karas says.

  • Shaker-style cabinets are painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove. Ten-foot ceilings allowed for tall, stacked cabinets with crisscross mullions for a coastal, nautical nod.


  • The spacious kitchen overlooks a casual dining room and living area (not shown) in an open plan setting. Decorated with subtle maritime touches and shades of aqua and coral, “the house is so bright and colorful,” says Karas. “You couldn’t help but feel relaxed and cheerful.”

    Photo by Marco Ricca

  • Walls, painted soft bluish-green, serve as a quiet backdrop for colorful tableware and coastal-inspired design elements.

    Photo by Marco Ricca

  • Furnishings in the living area contain a mix of weathered wood finishes and stain- and sun-resistant upholstery fabrics. “We wanted guests to walk into the house and feel like they could just unwind, relax and put their feet up on the furniture,” Karas says.

    Photo by Marco Ricca

  • Lime and orange accents energize a television/sitting room off the foyer, furnished with a queen sofa sleeper to accommodate the inevitable overflow of guests.

    Photo by Marco Ricca

  • Pale blue/greens and shades of white radiate calm in the couple’s light-filled bedroom.

    Photo by Marco Ricca

  • In the daughter’s bedroom, a Chippendale headboard, tropical-inspired bedding and window treatments made from Lee Jofa’s “Happy Plaid” pattern all contribute to an easygoing beachy vibe.

    Photo by Marco Ricca

  • Bunks and pullout trundles maximize sleeping quarters in two guest bedrooms (one shown).

    Photo by Marco Ricca

Left: A decorative handmade and glazed fish pattern — used in small doses — elevates the look of basic 4-by-4-inch white ceramic field tiles in a hallway bathroom. Right: A custom vanity in a guest bath is painted “Pool Blue” by Benjamin Moore. For a finished look, Karas repeated the aqua glass mosaic detail above the vanity in the shower. Photo by Marco Ricca.

A colorful mix of Adirondack chairs and a teak dining set ensures there’s always a spot for one more guest on the bluestone patio. Photo by Marco Ricca.

Post-Crisis Real Estate Boom
Kosenski and several realtors we spoke with agree this could be the best real estate market since Hurricane Sandy as we come off the heels of a global pandemic. In both home sales and rentals, “I’ve never seen a market this hot,” says Lisa Temple, an associate with Keller Williams Shore Properties in Lavallette. “Everyone in the state of New Jersey, New York and surrounding areas wants to be at the Jersey Shore.”