Remodeling and Home Design

Room for All

Reprint of article from "American Dream Homes" Spring 2004

Written by Jill Connors

Distinctive Products & Design

The fact that the first houseguests arrived on moving day sums up the whole concept behind the house that Liz and Pat Boyle built a block from the ocean in Spring Lake, New Jersey. "I'm one of four kids, Pat is one of seven, says Liz. "We knew this would be a good thing for a big family." Indeed, the Boyles, who have three young children, have hosted overnight gatherings of 25 people--all family.

The notion of a relaxing retreat--a place where everyone who came would feel like they were on vacation--guided the couple from the very start. With a year-round residence in the Princeton area, and memories of rental beach houses they had enjoyed over the years growing up in New Jersey, the Boyles scoured several seaside communities before falling for a wooded corner lot in picturesque Spring Lake.

Magazine clippings in hand, Liz and Pat assembled a design team, led by Bay Head architect John Lederer whose contemporary shingle-style houses the couple admired. Shrewsbury interior designer Suzette Donleavy, recommended by a friend, was there from the blueprint stage as well.

"We wanted the house to look as though it had been there for 100 years," says Pat.

Lederer's design delivered that feeling though the use of such traditional architectural details as built-ins and paneling throughout the inside of the house, and shingle-style features on the outside. "Strong elements include the roofline, which is hipped at the center, gabled on the wings, a porch anchored at two ends by circular pavilions, and cedar shingles for the walls and roof.

A key to the layout of the rooms inside the 15,000-square-foot house lies in Liz's belief that when a lot of people are going to be using a house, there should be several living areas, so people can relax without being right on top of each other. Thus, the main level of the house includes a living room just off the entry foyer, a family room next to the kitchen, a hearth room--complete with double-height ceilings and a windowed wall--at the eastern end of the house, and a game room--with custom made stained-glass windows displaying family crests--at the western end. On the second level lie five bedrooms and another gathering space, called the common room, which overlooks the hearth room and is located at a landing of the stairway that runs from the basement level all the way up to the 3rd floor, a garret level occupied by a nautical- themed bunkroom.

Donleavy, of Well-designed Interiors, approached each room with the idea of making it comfortable and inviting to every single guest who might arrive. "The style of the interior is a relaxed traditional environment." says Donleavy, who employed such elements as hand painted finishes on custom cabinetry, and such carefully chosen antiques as a French armoire that conceals the guest suite bar, and vintage steamer trunks for the nautical bunk room. "We worked within a palette of earth tones, mostly yellows and greens," says Donleavy. She introduced jewel tones only in rooms where dark paneling required a stronger color scheme, such as the cherry-paneled library. A particular challenge was the second-floor common room, a pathway between the main house and the guest suite above the garage. Donleavy arranged several plush seating areas, and entertainment center, and an upholstered window seat, which has made the common room one of Liz's favorite places for cozy gatherings before sending the children--an whatever cousins of friends may be visiting--off to bed.

Knowing that the house would often handle the extended family, Donleavy maximized the sleeping potential in the guest rooms: The second-floor guest room has a sleigh bed with trundles; the third-floor bunk room has two sets of bunk beds, the guest suite has a queen-sized bed and a sitting area with full-size sofas.

Building a new house meant Liz could get the kitchen of her dreams, a combination of high-performance appliances and elegant, timeless style. Created by Leonardis Kitchen Interiors of Morristown, the room includes a center island topped in granite, handsome maple cabinetry in a butter-hued painted finish and a backsplash of handmade crackle-finish tile with a dogwood-flower relief. A porcelain farmhouse sink, six-burner cooktop, built-n refrigerator, two wall ovens, and a microwave outfit the kitchen with horsepower enough to meet the challenge of entertaining 20 to 30 people at a clip.

A variety of activities is key to a family beach house as well, and for this requirement, Pat proudly describes the lower level as having something for everyone: a rumpus room complete with padded floor and video-game center, a desk area stocked with supplies for the arts and crafts projects, a stage for performances, a mirrored doll room, a pinball arcade, and a home theater complete with popcorn machine, ticket booth, a dozen reclining seats, and antique stained-glass exit signs that give the room the look of a 1930's movie house.

Perhaps the most obvious symbol that the Boyle's consider this a house for the extended family is found in the stained-glass family crests that adorn the first-floor game room. Not content just to have the Boyle family crest on display (it's installed above the bar), Pat commissioned the crests of four other names within the family, Liz's maiden name among them, and had them installed as stained-glass windows along the room's north wall. What better way to say welcome to all?

Copyrighted material, reprinted with permission of American Dream Homes (800) 322-6787.