From the April/May 2020 Issue  

Jersey Shore Vacation Home Presents Creative Opportunity

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Paul Bartholomew  |  Designer Sarah Dooley, Stephanie Alegre  |  Location Toms River, NJ
Jersey Shore Kitchen

KITCHEN | Shades of blue echo views of the waterfront in this classic white kitchen furnished with no-fuss quartz countertops and vinyl plank flooring. The handmade glass tile backsplash contains a mix of matte and gloss finishes that “embody the natural reflectiveness of fish scales,” designer Sarah Dooley says.

A split-level home located on the Jersey shore in Toms River, New Jersey, posed several challenges—and creative opportunities—for interior designers Sarah Dooley and Stephanie Alegre of Leedy Interiors in Tinton Falls.

For starters, the home had been in the clients’ family since the early 1970s and was in need of a complete overhaul, recalls Dooley, an associate member of the American Society of Interior Designers. Compartmentalization was another key factor in the split-level configuration. “Everything was closed off and separated,” she adds.

Jersey Shore Main Bathroom

BATHROOM | The main bathroom features a zero-clearance shower, which is a safety measure for multiple generations, as well as a slip-resistant finish on the porcelain tile floor. Removing a former linen closet “really opened up the space,” Dooley says, and made way for easy-access open shelving, reflected in the mirror.

Alegre, an allied member of ASID, described the existing blue, peach and cream design scheme as “a throwback to 1980s-1990s décor” with mirrored walls in the foyer, soffits in the kitchen and lots of polished brass.

Owners Laura and Joe Mauti, parents of two adult sons, wanted to create a sophisticated, timeless and functional vacation home for their family, friends and future generations, the designers say. They wanted a home that would endure the drifts in design trends for years to come. It also had to be comfortable and durable, “a must for a shore home,” Dooley adds.

First Floor Bathroom

BATHROOM | With no need for a tub, the first floor bathroom has a roomy shower with vivid blue/gray glass tiles and a linear mixed-tone band near the top. The light gray vanity with complementary gray quartz countertop has a clean-lined silhouette and handy storage.

On the upper level, all walls that previously divided the kitchen, dining room and living area were removed to create an open-concept, bright and airy space with great circulation throughout. “By removing these walls, we created the hub of the home,” perfect for entertaining, Alegre says. “It’s a central and spacious place for the family to gather, cook, eat and relax together.”

Jersey Shore Family Room

FAMILY ROOM | Removing some walls on the upper level enhanced light and views and also created “a central and spacious place for the family to gather, cook, eat and relax together,” designer Stephanie Alegre says.

Decorated in shades of blue, white and calming neutrals, the space exhibits a cool coastal vibe. White Shaker-style cabinetry sets the tone in the kitchen and adjoining living areas, which feature views of the waterfront. Gloss and matte handmade glass tiles on the kitchen backsplash—laid out piece by piece in an ombré pattern—“embody the natural reflectiveness of fish scales in their color and finish,” Dooley explains. Durable and easy-care quartz countertops in Silver Star White have flecks of reflective sea-green glass for a hint of shimmer.

Master Bedroom Vignette

MASTER BEDROOM VIGNETTE | The master bedroom’s upholstered bed, light wood tones, and a pale and peaceful palette establish a serene setting for the owners to rest after a long day on the boat and in the sun.

“We used mostly neutral shades and added pops of color in furnishings and accessories,” Alegre says. Practicality also has its place with elements such as durable flooring—waterproof and worry-free vinyl plank flooring on the second level, gray travertine-look porcelain on the first—and the use of sun- and stain-resistant performance fabrics sturdy enough to withstand the wear and tear of a beach house.

Custom built-ins flank a new stacked-stone gas fireplace that cozies up the space on the occasional chilly summer night or during off-seasons. Rounding out the second level are three bedrooms and a main bathroom completely updated with a storage-packed vanity and a zero-clearance shower to accommodate young and old alike. There, a former linen closet was converted into floating shelves to store towels and other essentials.

Second Kitchen

KITCHEN | Converting a former laundry room into a second kitchen increased the vacation home’s cooking and entertaining options. Furnished with light gray bead-board cabinets and quartz countertops, the space is conveniently located off an outdoor deck.

The lower level—complete with a second living area (not shown), a remodeled bathroom, two kid-friendly sleeping quarters and more—received its own aha! moments. The designers transformed a former laundry room into a second kitchen that can do double duty when the owners entertain large crowds or act independently from the action on the upper level. All in all, it’s a family vacation house that delivers what it promises: a welcoming, relaxed setting; room for a crowd; and memory-making opportunities to last a lifetime.

  • “We wanted the two kids’ spaces to feel very fun and different from each other, but still cohesive and flowing with the rest of the home,” Alegre says. This one has a nautical edge and combines navy and white bedding with a mix of pattern, color and texture.


  • Twin sleeping quarters feel appropriate for adults and kids alike with custom scalloped headboards and a coordinating Roman shade with whimsical beaded trim.


  • LAUNDRY ROOM | Carving out space from the garage allowed for a new storage and laundry zone, which echoes the design of the nearby kitchen.