Long Beach Island in New Jersey is a sliver of land, 18 miles long and ½ mile wide at its widest point. It lies along the Atlantic Ocean with the Manahawkin and Barnegat bays separating it from the mainland.
The island is divided into six small towns. Their residents are mostly affluent and mostly from New Jersey; Philadelphia, 55 miles to the west; and New York, 75 miles to the north. They are scenic, charming and neighborly communities. One of them is Beach Haven toward the southern end of the island. Its one square mile boasts pristine beaches, water sports on the bay, critically acclaimed restaurants and an award winning theater. Also, there are magnificent homes that look out on the ocean or the bay or both.
This home has been completely renovated, inside and out, from a fairly ordinary exterior to one resembling a Victorian. Inside, the incorporation of reclaimed materials creates a décor that is rustic yet elegant, earthy yet sophisticated, and always comfortable and welcoming.
The living room introduces the décor elements that we will see throughout the home. The floor is made from 100-year-old red-oak barn wood and finished with the highly durable and scratch-resistant BonaKemi Naturale for an untreated look and natural feel. All the wood walls and beams are also from reclaimed wood. Sofas, chairs and coordinated pillows are covered with linen that is easily removed for cleaning. The welt cord and pleats add a certain crispness and interest to the design. The bamboo roll-up blinds are stylish and convenient and fit in perfectly with the all-natural décor.
In the foreground is an imaginative hand-crafted console table. The supports were outdoor planters in a previous life. The planting tray is filled with sand and pieces of sea glass are scattered about, both from the beach along the Barnegat Bay. A piece of tempered glass was placed across the supports and, voila!, the most fabulous table.
The dining room is flooded with light for breakfast and lunch with floor-to-ceiling windows, and yet the position of the room allows for privacy. In the evening, the ceiling fan with light casts a lovely glow while the sailcloth blades create a refreshing breeze.
The dining chairs with open backrest and tapered legs are as modern as they are country—they fit in anywhere. They are made from Chinese toon (Chinese mahogany), rattan and plywood.
Even though everything in this bathroom is new, it has a quaint, yesteryear ambiance. The roll-top tub is porcelain on the inside and pure white acrylic on the outside with polished brass ball and claw feet. The fixtures are all a unifying satin nickel. The bottom part of the wall is a moss green beaded wainscoting—in true 18th-century fashion.
What a great room for kids! The sharp contrast of navy and white; the beds made from highly polished planks, a finish known as a “spit-shine” technique that includes Danish oil and polyurethane, hung with dock rope; and the ship’s cargo light swinging from the ceiling.
In the corner of the room is a hand-crafted closet fashioned after the historic Barnegat Light at the tip of the island.
There lay a porthole, probably from a 19th-century ship, buried among the rubble in a graveyard for ships, and now it’s a medicine cabinet due to someone’s ingenuity and ability to imagine, fitted with a new mirror and cleaned and buffed back to life.
This home is obviously grand, and in renovating, the owners could have bought everything new, but instead they opted for reclaimed and repurposed materials that bring an authenticity and a lived-in comfort to their beach home. The hand-crafted items are an inspiration that with some thought, some rummaging around antique shops or flea markets and a lot of elbow grease, we can have one-of-a-kind items and the reward of saying, “I made that!”