From the June/July 2019 Issue  

A Seaside Retreat on Barnegat Bay

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer John Martinelli  |  Designer Victor Moldovan, ASID and Shannon Fox  |  Architect Gregory L. Cox, RA, PP, AIA  |  Builder Joseph Longo, Abatare Buildings Inc.  |  Location Mantoloking, NJ

FRONT | The exterior borrows elements from classic 19th- century coastal cottages most often associated with New England. Homes of that era and distinction were also built right here in Mantoloking and neighboring Bay Head, NJ, interior designer Victor Moldovan says.

A Mantoloking, NJ. home on the Barnegat Bay channels the seaside retreats of New England — and one from a famous flick — but becomes a scene-stealer in its own right

Before Hurricane Sandy, the owners of a Mantoloking, New Jersey, property were scheduled to demolish the existing house and build a new, larger one in Chateau style in its place. “Hurricane Sandy helped the demolition a bit,” architect Gregory L. Cox says. “Unfortunately, some of the owners’ cherished possessions were destroyed or damaged in Sandy.”

After the hurricane, the clients changed direction and decided instead on a classic coastal style for their new home, says Cox, a professional planner, member of the American Institute of Architects and founding partner of Aquatecture Associates Inc. in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ.

ENTRY | A trellis and arched gate heighten the sense of arrival. Gable roofs and dormers are among the traditional elements that capture the home’s seaside vernacular. “We chose exterior materials of brick, horizontal siding, black window frames, generous crown moldings, copper roof elements and a classic color palette,” architect Gregory Cox says.

“Our clients have wonderful memories” of their visits to seaside towns such as Nantucket and Newport, Cox says, and asked the team to incorporate coastal New England cottage details into the exterior. The new 7,681-square-foot structure — built to withstand future storms with features such as brick and fiber-cement horizontal siding — has traditional architectural elements such as gable roofs with dormers, copper roof elements, boxed windows with black window frames, generous crown molding and other endearing features, including copper chimney pots, rackets, trellises and picket fencing.

FOYER | Eye-catching checkerboard flooring adds definition, pattern and direction in the vast corridor, which leads to a first-floor master suite on one side and the kitchen on the other. It also spills open to a combined living/dining room.

The home features four large bedrooms, 5½ bathrooms and wide-open living areas that maximize the view of the Barnegat Bay and Mantoloking Bridge from every room. The house “is wonderful for entertaining,” says Victor Moldovan, who oversaw the interior design along with his associate, Shannon Fox. Moldovan Interior Design, with locations in Toms River, NJ and Atlanta, “always finds imaginative and innovative ways to capitalize and expand” on Aquatecture’s architectural design work, Cox says.

MASTER BEDROOM | A nod to the Chateau-style design planned before Hurricane Sandy, the first-floor master suite looks luxurious and chic in aqua, cream and chocolate hues. Mirrored accents reflect light, and the ceiling’s soft blue tone resonates with sea and sky. The homeowner’s existing French armchair was brought back to life with a new finish and fabric, which complements the tufted aqua velvet sofa. “A fabulous hand-knotted rug from M. Christopher in Summit underscores the four-poster bed,” Moldovan says. And one element — a large desk overlooking the water — echoes Diane Keaton’s bedroom in the film Something’s Gotta Give.

Moldovan, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, recalls one of his first meetings with the homeowners when he was handed a CD of the movie Something’s Gotta Give starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. “We were asked to create a look inspired by but not copying any one element” of the iconic Hamptons beach house featured in the movie, Moldovan says.

LIVING ROOM | Designed in soothing neutrals and natural fibers, the living room is a “quiet contemplative place for reading and conversation,” the designer says.

The living room, designed as a quiet, contemplative space for reading and conversation, may be the most emblematic of the film, Moldovan says. It’s decorated in muted tones, with built-in bookshelves, a large dark wood coffee table and two linen-upholstered sofas. Drapes—in the color Dune with subtle embroidered borders—flow from iron rods, softening an expanse of windows but at the same time taking a backseat to the far-reaching water views. The feel is casual but refined in a style Moldovan describes as “relaxed traditional…with no over-the-top fabrics.” Even the classic wing chairs, he notes, are covered in a casual woven fabric with a modern overscaled damask print.

Natural fiber rugs woven to be soft underfoot—but durable—feel right at home in the living area and adjacent dining room, furnished with the owners’ existing weathered trestle table and chairs, the latter which the designers dressed up in a menswear-inspired stripe with nail-head trim. Two hutches in hand-rubbed black finishes with antiqued mirror backs, anchor the room and flank the pocketed French doors that lead into the breakfast room.

DINING | The addition of a new bench freshens the owners’ existing table and chairs, which were reupholstered in a practical and handsome striped performance fabric. Tall hutches in a weathered black finish anchor the entrance to the breakfast room beyond the pocketed French doors.

Performance fabrics are used judiciously to stand up to sand, sun and household pets. They cover everything from reupholstered dining room chairs to faux-leather kitchen stools and the family room’s blue English roll-arm sofa—a timeless silhouette Moldovan favors for its low, gently curved arms that make it ideal in a room designed for reading, entertaining and relaxing. Decorated in shades of blue and cream and a mix of wood finishes, the family room also shows its stripes in a coastal flat-weave rug and in a bolder manner on classic bobbin-turned English armchairs.

DINING/LIVING | A view of the open dining and living rooms.

In spaces designed to be open to each other and enhanced by water views, architect Gregory Cox and his team exercised great care to define each one through the use of varied ceiling shapes and heights, columns or half walls. Moldovan and Fox then accentuated those elements with different ceiling patterns and wall treatments to “create some kind of intimacy for each room,” Moldovan says.

FAMILY ROOM | Shades of blue, cream and sand appear in a medley of stripes, florals and solids in the family room, located off the kitchen. “We decided to use shiplap in here to bring in a more bayfront cottage feeling,” Moldovan says. The painting over the mantel is reminiscent of the lowland coastal areas of southern New Jersey.

In the combined living and dining rooms, for example, coffered ceilings distinguish the large-scale space along with paneled and whitewashed walls. Shiplap delivers a “more bayfront cottage feeling” in the family room, Moldovan says, while the kitchen uses 4-inch tongue-and-groove planking on the dramatic double-height ceiling. Elsewhere, lattice designs make their mark on vaulted ceilings in the main floor’s master bedroom and bathroom.

The first-floor master suite is a gesture to the original Chateau-style house planned before Hurricane Sandy. Decorated in aqua, cream and chocolate tones, “It’s a total departure from the grand cottage style of the rest of the house and it is so much fun,” Moldovan says. There is, however, one prominent feature that echoes the master bedroom from the movie screen: a large writer’s desk that overlooks the water.

KITCHEN | Black Fantasy polished granite tops the double islands, stained in a weathered black finish, a pleasing contrast against the perimeter cabinetry’s warm, greige tone. “Instead of tile, we opted for a washed-wood bead board for the backsplash,” Moldovan says. Black leathered granite on perimeter countertops “has the look of soapstone” without the maintenance, he adds. Custom wrought iron chandeliers were “beautifully done with leather straps and 12 candles.” HOOD | The high-impact hood—above the pro-style range and stainless-steel backsplash—was customized with horizontal straps and a two-tone finish. Slate flooring near the range holds up better than wood to wear, tear and spills. Behind the door is a walk-in pantry.

Like Diane Keaton’s character, the homeowner has a kitchen designed for a cook. Yet it’s a total departure from the film’s famed white kitchen, which spawned many look-alikes. “The film had an amazing kitchen,” Moldovan admits. But the homeowner, an avid chef who hosts “about a gazillion people” on Thanksgiving and who loves to entertain, “asked for an amazing kitchen that moved away from the white trend. We worked with cabinet makers” on just the right stain: a warm, natural “greige” along the perimeter and a high-contrast weathered black finish on the double islands. As for amenities, the über-sized space has “all the usual suspects,” Moldovan says, including a professional range, double ovens, dishwashers, sinks and warming drawers.

POWDER ROOM | Paneling in a “deep gentleman’s blue color,” polished nickel fixtures and a marble vanity sink give a first-floor powder room a slightly formal feel for that “deliberate element of surprise,” Moldovan says. MASTER BATHROOM | With its rich, dark stained raised-panel vanity, marble appointments and crystal hardware, the master bathroom continues the French theme and color story from the neighboring master bedroom. The soaking tub adds a sculptural element and “was a must” for this spa-like room, Moldovan says.

Editor’s Note: Our August/September 2019 issue will feature an additional bathroom from this home.