From the August/September 2017 Issue  

The Ties that Bind

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Courtney Apple  |  Designer Jenny Madden  |  Architect Michael A. Moritz, AIA, LEED AP  |  Builder Brian Furey  |  Location Normandy Beach, NJ
  • The newly constructed shingle-style home has a “clean beach vernacular,” architect Michael Moritz says. The classic white trim and cedar shingles will age naturally. Kodi the family’s Labrador Retriever, watches beachgoers head to the ocean just 100 yards away.

  • Tall wainscoting and grass-cloth wall covering warm up this foyer. “The clients and I wavered between wood flooring and travertine tile for the main level,” interior designer Jenny Madden says. Travertine won “so they could minimize worry about wet and sandy feet and wear on wood floors.”

  • LIVING ROOM AND KITCHEN | A coffered ceiling accentuates the open-plan living area decorated in soft hues of sand, sea and sky. Interior designer Jenny Madden says homeowner Wyatt Vince pointed out it’s a tradition in his family to have a statement chair in the living room, and she obliged with a fun, vibrant pattern for the swivel chairs. Seafoam glass subway tile, polished marble countertops and lantern-style pendants lend coastal flair to the clean and classic white kitchen. Stools covered in a durable outdoor-grade fabric are easy to wipe clean.

  • BREAKFAST AREA | The breakfast area is sunny and relaxed with weathered woods and robin’s egg blue chairs. Plantation-style shutters are timeless and no-fuss.

  • Views of the ocean and bay are visible from the master suite balcony (not shown). The bedroom, painted in a pale watery hue, features a Capiz-style chandelier, one of homeowner Cassandra Vince’s favorite pieces, hanging from the tray ceiling.

  • MASTER BEDROOM WET BAR | Architect Michael Moritz incorporated space for the built-in wet bar into the entry hall of this master bedroom, a feature the owners admired in a luxury hotel. “We wanted to spoil ourselves with an upstairs bar and refrigerator,” the homeowner says. “It’s so nice to wake up to coffee or to go out on the balcony overlooking the ocean to enjoy a glass of wine in the evening.”

  • SHOWER | A three-dimensional accent wall adds depth and a shimmering quality inside the shower. Smooth pebble stone flooring feels like a natural fit.

  • MASTER BATHROOM | Decorated in soothing neutrals and a variety of textures, the master bathroom is a “calm place of respite,” the designer says. Oxidized copper sconces add a dash of color. The countertop vanity — centered between the double sinks — stores a hair dryer on the wife’s side complete with an outlet. “There’s a lefty in this marriage, and the hair dryer on the wrong side just would not have worked.”

  • GIRLS’ BATHROOM | Two very little ladies share this Jack-and-Jill-Style bathroom decorated in chic hexagon floor tiles, white subway tile and sea-glass accents, designer Jenny Madden says. “Although I love this wallpaper,” Madden says, “if they want to swap it out, a new pattern could completely change the look for a teenage update.” The countertop is natural quartzite, which Madden says is generally more durable than marble but with similar softness in the veining. “I describe it as a happy medium between marble and granite.”

  • HALLWAY | Details such as custom wainscoting and window seats with built-in storage give the house “an authentic beach house feel” that’s simple but classic, the architect says. “It’s a beach house … they wanted it nice but not overdone.”

  • DECK | When entertaining, “We like being able to enjoy a warm fire on our back deck when it gets chilly,” homeowner Cassandra Vince says.

  • SHOWER | Louvered mahogany doors and columns frame the outdoor shower, a beach house must. For added convenience, this one has direct access to an indoor powder room.

After Hurricane Sandy destroyed a treasured family beach house, a new home rises up to secure its hold on future generations

A love of the water, salty air and laid-back attitude form the cornerstone of every beach house. For Normandy Beach, New Jersey, homeowners Cassandra and Wyatt Vince and their extended family, it is that and much more: a place where families return year after year and friendships grow.

Says Cassandra Vince: “Wyatt and his three brothers spent summers in his parents’ beach house, just a block away from Grandma’s, so they were always visiting her and making memories there.” During that time he made lifelong friends. “It was his dream,” she says, to give their two young daughters, Audrey and Maddie, “the same opportunity to spend summers forging friendships down the shore.”

After Grandma passed, her single-story “cozy little two-bedroom nook” remained in the family. “We fixed it up and enjoyed living there for two summers, sharing stories about Grandma,” says Vince, knowing one day they would build up. “When Hurricane Sandy destroyed the house, it just happened sooner than we expected.”

Architect Michael Moritz, a member of the American Institute of Architects and principal of Stonewater Architecture in Colonia, New Jersey, gave the couple exactly what they wanted: a Nantucket-style, two-story beach house with classic white trim and gray cedar shingles that would age naturally. Working in synergy with the architect was builder Brian Furey and his team at Falcon Industries in Brick and interior designer Jenny Madden of Jersey City-based Jenny Madden Design. “We had an awesome team,” Vince says.

Located just 100 yards from the beach and elevated to prevent flooding from nor’easters and hurricanes, the 2,800-square-foot home with four bedrooms and bathrooms uses new-found space beneath the house for beach-house necessities: sand chairs, bicycles, surfboards, fishing equipment and more. There’s also the requisite outdoor shower and a large rear deck with a masonry fireplace. “We love to grill and spend as much time outdoors in the summer as possible,” Vince says. Likewise, they like to sit fireside outdoors on chilly nights with family and friends.

Large doors and windows to the rear deck allow for the exterior and interior living spaces to be joined together, Moritz says. Indoors, rooms flow easily from one space to the next. “They wanted an open plan where everyone in the kitchen, breakfast room and family room would be able to hang out and be with each other,” he adds. Another requirement: ample views to bring in natural light. Character-defining details such as coffered or vaulted ceilings, built-in storage areas and tall wainscoting help define spaces and make it more cozy and comfortable.

At the beach, there was no need to “clutter up the floor plan” or interrupt the flow of traffic with a formal staircase off the foyer, Moritz says. Consequently, he relegated the main staircase to the back corner of the house, a position that also allowed for greater privacy away from the main activity when family members or guests opt to turn in for the night when others want to keep the party going.

Sea glass, sea grass and seashells. These were the natural elements Vince channeled for the interior’s peaceful palette decorated with weathered woods, no-fuss woven shades, plantation shutters and travertine stone floors on the main level to stand up to the rigors of coastal life. “Cassandra shared her love of turquoise and trusted me to use it as inspiration for the nuanced scheme,” Madden says. Grass-cloth walls and an area rug ground the living room in grayish blue-green tones, for example. Brighter blue-green shades appear in the kitchen’s seafoam backsplash and on upholstered swivel chairs in the living area. “Wyatt pointed out that it’s a tradition in the family to have a statement chair in the living room,” Madden says. That led her to suggest a “really vibrant, patterned fabric.”

Upstairs is a calm place of respite. The master bathroom is decorated in a sea of neutrals and a variety of textures. Smooth pebbled floor tiles in the shower feel like a walk along the beach. Overhead, an eye-catching chandelier — sculpted to resemble white coral with a natural-looking application of sand — is a subtle reminder of the sea. Oxidized copper sconces above the vanity “add a dash of color and circle back to Cassandra’s turquoise inspiration,” Madden says.

The Vinces enjoy views of the ocean and Barnegat Bay from the master suite with its vaulted ceiling, a trio of windows above the bed and a balcony. Painted pale green with a hint of blue, the look is clean, light-filled and uncluttered. Here and elsewhere in the house, the sound of breaking ocean waves in the distance or sunset views off the bay never get old. “The ambience in the house is very soothing,” Vince says, noting that she likes to leave classical music playing in the background. “With two energetic young girls, it’s not always possible, but it really sets the tone.”

“We love our home,” Vince says, noting her gratitude for the team of experts who helped them achieve what they wanted and for the family and friends who make it extra special. Now that her husband’s childhood friends have children of their own, “it’s nostalgic,” she says, to watch generations of kids all swimming and laughing together. “There is so much family history … It’s definitely our home away from home in the summertime.”