A narrow cottage on the water in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, blends architectural elements of the area with contemporary design.
1 of 9Photo: Jonny Valiant; Styling: Erin Swift
From Shack to Chic
For a vacationer who spent childhood summers surfing the north end of Long Beach Island, it was only a matter of time before he returned to find a summer retreat of his own. Michael "Maz" McWilliams set out to build a place for his wife, Katie-Jane, and their son, North, and fell for a one-bedroom fishing shack along the water.
2 of 9Photo: Jonny Valiant; Styling: Erin Swift
Old Meets New
Not wanting to lose its historic charm, he hired architect and fellow surfer Richard Bubnowski to design an 1,800-square-foot beach house that would reconcile Maz's appreciation for the area's cedar-shake styles with his desire for a modern, industrial vibe. Here's how they, with interior designer Donna Grimes, came up with a contemporary retreat that bridges past and present.
3 of 9Photo: Jonny Valiant; Styling: Erin Swift
In the dining area, a table made with metal legs and a top of recycled wood is paired with tubular chrome armchairs that were salvaged nearby and then reupholstered. Reclaimed barnwood siding clads the fireplace, which also serves as a divider between the living and dining areas.
The stainless steel-topped kitchen island sits on casters so that it can be moved around as needed. "There's a casual energy to it," says Maz. "We've spent a lot of late nights around that island, talking, making food, and drinking wine. I've probably enjoyed the time we've spent there the most."
The windows above the kitchen sink afford a view of a secluded cove that's a favorite spot for crabbing. Beneath, Grimes set sapele wood counters atop reclaimed oak cabinets that she finished with a whitewash stain. She and Maz's mother found industrial-style pendant lights that lend a subtly nautical feel and complement the caged wall sconces in the dining area.
Bubnowski designed the footprint to mirror the property's long and narrow shape. "It starts off modest, and then grows to two stories at the furthest point on the property," he explains, adding that one of the advantages of a narrow house is that it allows sunlight and natural breezes to penetrate most every room.
7 of 9Photo: Jonny Valiant; Styling: Erin Swift
Keep it Simple
Open shelves in the living area make the most of a limited space. "I don't like things to be closed off," says Maz. "You have to think about everything before you design—for instance, how you're going to use a space and how often. Having items out in the open forces you to be a bit more minimalist and mindful."
The guest bedroom is anchored by a built-in bed; a shelf set into the reclaimed knotty pine paneling offers a place to stow books and other items without the need for bedside tables. Says Grimes, "It's the one room without a closet, so we found a primitive hutch for clothes and put hooks on the wall." Khaki-and-blue bedding adds coastal hues to the room's natural palette.
Grimes designed a double teak vanity topped by smoky gray countertops that resemble concrete for the master bath. Wall-mounted faucets keep the surface clear. "The owners like things that are current, simple, and modern but with a twist of old," she says. The nickel hardware adds polish to the room.
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