From the February/March 2018 Issue  

Rising with the Tide

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Wing Wong  |  Designer Anthony Passanante, CMKBD, Allied ASID, Kirstin Schultz  |  Architect Michael Melillo, AIA  |  Builder Walter G. Kosenski II  |  Location Ocean County, NJ
  • Barnegat Bay is the backdrop in the open-plan kitchen, living and dining areas. Glass-front cabinets reflect light, and earth-toned marble countertops echo the bay’s current in a soothing, free-flowing pattern. Faux-finished trimwork in the kitchen calls to mind driftwood, a theme repeated in the living area’s fireplace façade and coffered ceiling treatment.

  • White-painted cabinets contain classic flourishes such as beaded insets, V-groove panels and corbels that mimic the brackets on the home’s exterior, kitchen designer Anthony Passanante says. Contrasting wood-like porcelain tile floors are worry-free.

  • Glossy white subway tiles make a clean and subtle backdrop for the focal-point range hood. A convenient butler’s pantry stores extra food, service ware and appliances. Glass pocket doors help conceal the clutter when the family entertains.

An agent of nature, this waterfront home taps into its reserves and reclaims its happy place.

Whenever a major storm threatened the Ocean County, New Jersey coastline, Robert and Victoria Bocchino’s low, ranch-style home—situated on the bay and blocks from the ocean—was always vulnerable to water damage, builder Walter Kosenski says. After recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irene, which wreaked havoc on the landscaping, bulkhead and flooring in 2011, Superstorm Sandy hit one year later and flooded the interior with more than three-feet of water.

At that point the homeowners’ said “forget it,” recalls Kosenski, owner of Walter G. Kosenski II & Son’s Coastal Building, which is based in Lavallette, NJ and specializes in coastal homes. “It was a total gut job.”

This time Kosenski and Michael Melillo, a member of the American Institute of Architects and principal of Melillo Architecture in Brielle, NJ teamed up to build a 10-foot elevated split-level structure with cedar-shake siding to suit the home’s coastal vernacular. “It’s an awesome piece of property” on a harbor waterway with boats going by from several locations, Kosenski says. Floor-to-ceiling hurricane-resistant windows wrap around the entire first floor in an open concept plan that fully maximizes the view. And durable wide-plank porcelain tile flooring has the look and feel of wood without the worry or upkeep.

During the opportune framing stage, Anthony Passanante, owner of Albert Anthony Studios in Waldwick, New Jersey and a certified master kitchen and bath designer, came on board to design the 20-by-15-foot kitchen, collaborating with Kosenski on the proper placement of windows, cabinetry and more. Interior designer Kirstin Schultz of DBK Interiors in Washington Township, NJ also partnered with the team on the selection of materials and finishes.

Custom cabinetry painted creamy white ensures that the water and sky take center stage. “We wanted warmer tones…not too cool,” Passanante says of the cabinets, designed in a frameless door style with beaded insets for a look that is clean and streamlined. Glass fronts on the upper cabinets reflect the light. So does the glossy white subway tile above the range. The tile changes direction on a framed inset to a subtle herringbone pattern. Chosen for their iridescent see-through quality, glass pendants even have the vista in mind.

Crown molding suits the scale of the 12-foot-high ceiling, and corbels “mimic the brackets you see on the exterior of the house,” Passanante notes. “No [elaborate] carvings, nothing fancy, but a nice detail.” Ductwork had to be placed high into soffits to meet new building codes, a feature complemented with faux-finished trimwork that resembles driftwood. Some major trunk lines are hidden in a beam system that enhances the kitchen, Kosenski adds. Instead of “dropping the ceiling” in the adjacent living area, “we came up with a coffered design and gave it a kind of nautical look…We didn’t want to paint it white.”

Classic V-board details lend cottage flair at the base of the island and as a backsplash on furniture-like hutches on both sides of the kitchen window. This treatment continues behind the glass-front upper cabinets. The cabinets have wenge shelving that ties in with a step-down wenge countertop beneath the window. “Typically, you would put a sink by the window,” Passanante says, “but we wanted to do something more creative.”

With the cooking, dining and living all happening in one large space—and the bay as the backdrop—Passanante placed a farm sink on the center island overlooking the water alongside an integrated dishwasher, ensuring that anyone working in the kitchen wouldn’t be cut off from the action.

For the countertops, “we wanted something in the blue family,” Victoria Bocchino’s favorite color,” Passanante says. Calacatta Cielo, a marble that picks up all the tones in the room—bluish-gray, ivory, taupe and rust—captured everyone’s attention. “Granite tends to be a little speckly or harder on the eye,” Passanante says. “I wanted something soothing with a more natural kind of flow to it.”

Completely hidden by custom panels, a refrigerator/freezer recedes into the wall so the eye is drawn to the custom range hood. Made of steel and built by a metal artisan, “we gave it a patina finish that looks like zinc,” Passanante says. Brushed stainless steel strappings harmonize with the range. “It brings a whole different feel to the kitchen,” he says. “You can tell the hood was made by hand and not totally perfect, which is what I like.”