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Spacious Beach House with Seaside Palette

This beach house at the Jersey Shore takes its cues from nature

Written by Candace Ord Manroe
  • John Bessler

    No sooner did Kay and Dale Schoeneman empty the nest than they began to refill it—at least for the summer. “We spend all summer at our vacation house at Beach Haven, New Jersey, where both our married daughters and their husbands and children join us every weekend,” explains Kay. Thus far, their on-the-grow family includes three grandchildren, ages 6, 3, and 1. So while other retired couples downsize, the Schoenemans happily embrace the idea of bigger is better. “We needed to build a larger house to accommodate our growing family,” says Kay. “We wanted it family-friendly with soothing beach colors and enough space for everyone to spread out.”

    Blueprints in hand, Kay called on her longtime designer, Mary O’Brien Cabaron, to tweak the plans and provide turnkey decorating that included interior architectural elements like paneling and interesting ceiling details. But this time, their meeting went a little differently. “I brought along both of my daughters,” laughs Kay. “Since they would be living there, too, we wanted their input.”

    Their collaborative vision called for not one but three master suites, plus practical concessions like a TV in the living room. It also ensured an abundance of public spaces so no one would feel cramped and all could pursue their own interests. That meant a separate family room with a sprawling sectional upstairs, a multipurpose enclosed porch that’s a favorite hangout and casual meal venue overlooking the pool, a cheerful playroom in primary colors for the grandchildren, and a sparkling-white kitchen roomy enough for two chefs (Kay and one son-in-law both love to cook), as well as another kitchen outdoors. There are plenty of dining-area options, including the light-filled breakfast room, a slightly more formal beamed-ceiling dining room, and, of course, the enclosed porch. “Rooms are large enough for all of us to be in them at one time, but we can also spread out,” notes Kay.

    Packing in so many features for what are essentially three separate families demanded a large footprint—around 9,000 square feet. “My challenge was to give Kay the cottagey style and homey feel she wanted in such a big house,” says Cabaron. “We introduced the cottage look using a lot of white with beach-glass colors and coral accents.”

    But humanizing the scale required more than a pleasing palette. In the living room, Cabaron designed a ceiling grid to break up the big space overhead. Her genius was to alternate the direction of the flow of the beadboard within that grid. The result is a whitewashed patchwork that lives cozy.

    Again, in the dining room a unique ceiling treatment is critical, bringing the large room down to earth. “You enter the room at an angle, and I laid the ceiling beams on that same angle. This tricks the eye into believing the room is not a big rectangle,” notes Cabaron. The brown beams also are a baby step toward formality; their darker color is reinforced by the brown trellis outlines on the draperies, as well as by the natural wood of the table. Even in this most formal room, however, the living is easy. “The table is so distressed it’s almost buckled,” says Cabaron. “It’s friendly to using dinner plates without placemats.”

    In the upstairs family room, the expanses of blue walls—the deepest shade in the house—reach out like an ice-breaking handshake, thanks to Cabaron’s 3-D accessorizing. “Baskets, sconces, and thick-framed mirrors on the wall create depth,” she says. At the same time the 3-D accessories shake off any traces of big-room sterility, they create a collected look that’s a hallmark of the cottage style the homeowner loves. “I wanted a Nantucket look,” reflects Kay, “and Mary completely got that.”

    Wavy window treatments in the breakfast room and the Schoenemans’ bedroom recall breakers on the shore. “I always hang the cornice as close to the ceiling as possible to enhance the illusion of more window, while hiding as little of the view as possible,” explains the designer.

    For the breakfast room, she broke up the aqua cornice with brown pleats that fall in line with the window mullions. The brown pleats segment the sweep of aqua fabric for a cozier look, and they also knit the space together by tying into the brown on the banquette fabric just below.

    A cornice above the bed in the Schoenemans’ bedroom follows the arch of the window. Cabaron finished the bottom of the cornice in a graceful wave, then created a counterpoint with a bed whose headboard reverses those undulations. 

    In every room, fabrics are casual cottons, linens, or blends of both, and all the furniture is comfortable. “Nothing is stiff. They use every room and sit on every furnishing,” says Cabaron. “It’s a very livable design.” Nothing less would do for a beach house brimming with three generations of family.

    Photography: John Bessler

    Architect: Robert Stack, Robert Stack, LLC, 287 W. Eighth Street, Ship Bottom, NJ 08008; 609/494-8429,
    Interior designer: Mary O’Brien Cabaron, Mary O’Brien Cabaron Interior Design, 105 W. South 34th St., Beach Haven Terrace, NJ 08008; 609/492-8216,
    Builder: Jeff Seddon, J.M. Seddon Contracting Co. Inc., 129 W. Seventh St., Ship Bottom, NJ 08008; 609/492-3707.
    Kitchen design: Francie Milano Kitchens, 609/494-0011,
    Landscape design: Living Landscapes, 609/698-1199,
    Drapery workroom: Tina Lynn’s Inc., 856/825-0261.
    Custom woodwork: Handmade Furniture Co., 609/597-2708,

    Ottomans (“Fusion” #2860-6450): Brown Jordan, 800/743-4252,
    Ottoman fabric (“Gabriel”/Aqua #W8446, Courtyard Collection): Thibaut, 800/223-0704,
    Chairs (“Leeward Lounge Chair Swivel Glider” #786-86): Lane Venture, 800/235-3558,
    Chair fabric (“Linden Hill Stripe”/Aqua #W8437, Courtyard Collection): Thibaut, 800/223-0704,
    Throw pillows (by Kuk May): owner’s collection.
    Lamps: Frederick Cooper, 252/446-2192,
    Area rug: Nourison Industries Inc., 800/223-1110,

  • John Bessler

    Sunny Pool Area

    Surrounded by lush landscaping, the serpentine pool is a favorite hangout for the three generations of family who enjoy this new vacation house at Beach Haven, New Jersey. All upholstery fabric is Sunbrella.

    Chaise longues: Telescope Casual Furniture, 800/451-0938,

  • John Bessler

    Sandy-Hued Living Room

    Benjamin Moore’s pale green “Spring Thaw” paint on the walls provides subtle contrast to the cottage-white fireplace unit and coffered-and-beadboard ceiling. A neutral wool area rug from Masland Carpets & Rugs is easy to maintain. The barley-twist side table from Century Furniture creates a collected look.

    Sofa (“Kennedy Sofa” #22-641); sofa fabric (#61194L16); lounge chairs (“Emmitt Chair” #LTD649-6); chair fabric (#61125L22, discontinued): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552,
    Peach-colored pillows on sofa (“Deletreze”/Hibiscus): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777,
    Sage pillow on sofa (#61132-49, discontinued): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552,
    Kelly-green pillow (by Kuk May): owner’s collection.
    End tables: antique.
    Ottoman (#33-318, discontinued, for similar, “Dorothy Ottoman” #33-884); ottoman fabric (#61067-44, discontinued); coffee table (“Large Deep River Coffee Table”/Aged Ivory #T2H-601): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552,
    Box on coffee table: John Richard, 866/389-6642,
    Drapery (“Alonso”/Flax); valance (“Cameronian”/Flax): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777,
    Staron mantel: Arte Italica, 212/213-4773,
    Ceiling fan: Casablanca Fan Co., 888/227-2178,
    Wall paint (“Spring Thaw” #1508): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,
    Wall unit (designed by Mary O’Brien Cabaron): fabricated by Handmade Furniture Co., 609/597-2708,

  • John Bessler

    Formal Yet Inviting Blue Dining Room

    Window treatments are fabricated from a trellis-patterned Kravet linen. A seashell fabric from Scalamandré jazzes up the top front of the host and hostess chairs while aqua-and-green tweed keeps the side chairs soothing.

    See details on the following slides.

    Table (“Double Pedestal Table”/Walnut #37-2338): Eddy West, 800/829-9037,
    Side chairs (“Cameo Back Side Chair” #3408S); upholstered host chair (“Cameo Back Arm Chair”#3408A): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552,
    Side-chair fabric (“Double Play”/Pistachio): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777,
    Host chair fabric, front (“Coquina”/Multi on Sea Blue #16397-001): Scalamandré, 800/932-4361,
    Area rug (“Caravans” #CA320, Focal Point Collection): Davis and Davis Rugs Inc., 800/251-7838,
    Chandelier (discontinued): Currey & Co., 877/768-6428,
    Drapery (“Riad”/Caribbean, #RIAD.635): Kravet, 888/457-2838,
    Bench (#3991, discontinued): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552
    Bench fabric (“Rafael Uptown”/Pistachio): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777,
    Pillow on bench (“Coquina”/Multi on Sea Blue #16397-001): Scalamandré, 800/932-4361,
    Wall paint (“Bali” #702): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,
    Corbels on wall (discontinued): Chelsea House, 252/446-3266,
    Art: John Richard, 866/389-6642,
    Hurricanes: Abigails, 800/678-8485,
    Turquoise plates: Abigails, 800/678-8485,
    Wine glass: Waterford, 877/900-9973,

  • John Bessler

    Tabletop Details

    The Schoenemans take advantage of their coastal proximity to enjoy the fresh fruits of the sea.

  • John Bessler

    Mahogany Mirror and Console

    Rich woods throughout the dining room bring warmth to the space’s cool blue palette. The mahogany mirror is from Century.

    Console table (#751-723, Marisol Collection, discontinued); mirror (#751-233, Marisol Collection, discontinued): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552,
    Sconces (“Wolverton Wall Sconce” #5030): Currey & Co., 877/768-6428,

  • John Bessler

    Curving Staircase

    The curving formal staircase lends classic sophistication to the home’s entry.

    Wall paint (“Ocean Beach” #958): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,

    Area rug (“Classics” #CL251 in colors W082 and W036, Focal Point Collection): Davis and Davis Rugs Inc., 800/251-7838,

  • John Bessler

    Classic Exterior

    Hurricane Sandy thankfully spared this new beach home. The large house comfortably accommodates Kay and Dale Schoeneman and the families of their two daughters.

  • John Bessler

    Sunny and Spacious Kitchen

    An oval window and white Wood-Mode cabinets bring cottage character into the spacious work area. Materials include subway tiles on the backsplash, granite counters, and a wood-topped island.

    Cabinetry (“Galleria”); cabinetry finish (“Cottage Lace on Maple”): Wood-Mode Inc., 877/635-7500,
    Cabinetry hardware (“Edwardian Pull”/Oil Rubbed Bronze #M919): Top Knobs, 800/499-9095,
    Countertops: Bianco Antico Granite, and solid walnut.
    Faucet (“Vinnata” #K-690): Kohler, 800/456-4537,
    Hanging light (“Citadel” #7-8319-1-72, discontinued): Savoy House, 800/801-1621,
    Range: Viking, 888/845-4641,
    Oven hood (custom): by Steve George for Francie Milano Kitchens, 609/494-0011,
    Area rug: Davis and Davis Rugs Inc., 800/251-7838,

  • John Bessler

    Charming Breakfast Room in Blues and Browns

    A Designers Guild floral splashes color across the back of Century’s banquette; seat cushions are covered in “Coastal Stripe” fabric from Schumacher. The aqua cotton cornice is detailed with seashell trim and inverted brown linen pleats. “The cornice’s curves mimic the shape of the windows. The room’s round shape called for a round table, which called for a round rug,” says designer Mary O’Brien Cabaron.

    Table (“Centre Table” #429-316); banquette (“Marisol Banquette” #3901): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552,
    Chairs (“Slip Seat Carmel Arm Chair” #SB203): Somerset Bay Home, 336/869-9714,
    Chair and banquette-seat fabric (“Coastal Stripe”/Mineral #62382): Schumacher, 800/523-1200,
    Banquette back fabric (“Arabella Fidelio”#F1525, by Designers Guild, colorway discontinued): Osborne & Little, 212/751-3333,
    Valance (#20786-939, in Pool, colorway discontinued, for similar, color 168, Seamist): Duralee, 800/275-3872,
    Chandelier (#9754, discontinued): Currey & Co., 877/768-6428,
    Area rug (custom): Masland Carpets, 800/633-0468,
    Wall paint (“Pale Smoke” #1584): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,

  • John Bessler


    Homeowners Kay and Dale Schoeneman relax on their enclosed porch, which overlooks the swimming pool.

  • John Bessler

    Casual Family Room

    A sectional and upholstered benches provide comfy seating around a cocktail table large enough to service all. The table includes two removable trays for casual dining.

    Sectional Sofa (discontinued): Ferguson Copeland, 828/584-0664,
    Embroidered pillows; pillow in corner of sofa (by Kuk May): owner’s collection.
    Brown-patterned pillow at right on sofa (#20883-10 in Brown, Natural Elements Collection): Duralee, 800/275-3872,
    Coffee table (“Napa Tray Ottoman” #3960): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552,
    White end table (discontinued): Somerset Bay, 336/869-9714,
    End table (discontinued): Stanley Furniture, 877/772-4858,
    Ottomans (discontinued): Pearson Furniture, 336/882-8135,
    Ottoman fabric (“Temple Garden,” colorway discontinued): Schumacher, 800/523-1200,
    Lounge chair: owner’s collection.
    Chair fabric (#20897-289 in Espresso, Natural Elements Print Collection): Duralee, 800/275-3872,
    Wall paint (“Tranquil Blue” #2051-50): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,
    Valance (discontinued): Kravet, 888/457-2838,
    Shades (“Duette Vertiglide”): Hunter Douglas Window Fashions, 800/274-2985,
    Area rug (“Bedford Cord”/Honey Beige #BC1, Centerpiece Collection): Davis and Davis Rugs Inc., 800/251-7838,
    Wall sconce: John Richard, 866/389-6642,
    Corbels on wall (#380992): Chelsea House, 252/446-3266,

  • John Bessler

    Cozy Guest Bedroom with Four-Poster

    A barley-twist four-poster brings a venerable look to the space. The cool green walls are balanced by warmer shots of coral on the sofa pillows.

    Bed (“Jacobean Twist High/Lo Poster Bed”/Amaretto finish #649-145); bedside table, left (“Golden Peak Nightstand” #619-222); bedside table, right (“Bitterroot Nightstand” #619-223); loveseat (“McCrae Sofa” #22-127G); loveseat fabric (#71234L13/Vanilla): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552,
    Bed linens: S.D.H., 707/864-8075,
    Pillows: owner’s collection.
    Wall paint (“Bali” #702); ceiling paint (“Icicle” #OC-60); trim paint (“Snowfall White” #OC-118): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,
    Drapery: Robert Allen, 800/333-3777,
    Drapery rod: Brimar, 800/274-1205,

  • John Bessler

    Grandchildren’s Playroom

    Blue steps up in intensity to hold its own with yellow and green in this destination designed to stimulate the grandchildren’s senses.

    Desk, cabinet; chairs: Pottery Barn, 800/922-5507,
    Wall paint (“Sun City” #352): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,
    Sleeper sofa (“Julian Sleeper” #LTD299-45); lamp table (#429-624, in Green Apple): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552,
    Sofa fabric, trim on Roman shades (“Alfresco”/Sundial #F5360-04, by Designers Guild, discontinued); sofa pillow (reverse side, “Alfresco”/Sundial #F5360-04, by Designers Guild, discontinued): Osborne & Little, 212/751-3333,
    Roman shades: natural denim.
    Area rug: Masland Carpets, 800/633-0468,

  • John Bessler

    Elegant Master Bedroom

    Kay and Dale’s bedroom evokes the rolling movement of waves with its Century bed. Low chairs at the foot of the bed are also from Century.

    See details on the following slide.

    Bed (#749-146); bedside tables (#579-202, discontinued); chairs at end of bed (#C1-1126): Century Furniture, 800/852-5552,
    Chair fabric (“Gordian Weave”/Natural on Greige #2643921): Schumacher, 800/523-1200,
    Table lamps (#JRL-6843, discontinued): John Richard, 866/389-6642,
    Bench (“Sonoma Upholstered Bench” #CE0548): Guy Chaddock & Co., 828/584-7176,
    Bench fabric (“Hambo”/Spa): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777,
    Carpet (“Bandala” #9352): Masland Carpets, 800/633-0468,
    Ceiling fan: Casablanca Fan Co., 888/227-2178,
    Wall paint “Quiet Moments” #1563); ceiling paint (“Limestone” #513): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667,
    Plantation shutters: Norman Shutters,

  • John Bessler

    Graceful Headboard

    The graceful headboard is shaped to reflect the undulations of the cornice above.