A Sand Castle on Absecon Island

This classic coastal home is all about relaxation — as well it should be.



The pool area of this Absecon Island retreat boasts stunning ocean views.

resourcesarchitect: Asher Associates Architects, Jenkintown, (215) 576-1413, www.asherarchitects.com  contractor: John Hale Co., Mays Landing, N.J., (609) 625-4537.  interior designer: Richard Kiefner Interior Design, Narberth, (610) 617-9393.

The location couldn’t have been more ideal. The Wynnewood couple knew it as soon as they set eyes on the oceanfront lot along Absecon Island. Eighteen months later, their dream is a reality. 

In part, they have Mark Asher to thank. They were impressed by the work the Jenkintown-based architect had done for friends—and they especially liked his traditional approach. “This project is a classic coastal home,” says Asher. “It was well-executed with an excellent builder, a great interior designer and very involved homeowners. Everyone contributed to its success.”  

The more the merrier

When it came to the interiors, the idea was fairly straightforward: welcoming, low-key, relaxed. “It needed to have a different feel than their home on the Main Line,” says Narberth-based interior designer Richard Kiefner. 

It also needed to be spacious enough to accommodate visiting relatives and friends, hence the seven bedrooms. The home’s “living-up” style-—four bedrooms on the ground level, with the main living areas and kitchen above—
is common among Shore properties. And on the third floor: two more bedrooms, an exercise room, and a master suite with an oceanfront balcony. “The views are extraordinary,” says Asher. 

Aside from picking out fabric and arranging furniture, Kiefner coordinated the designs of the kitchen and the bathrooms. “We took clues from the architectural details to evoke them inside, so there’s a harmonious feeling from both the outside architecture and the inside architecture,” he says. 

In the kitchen, Kiefner selected cabinetry with a glossy white finish. A matching island lends a consistency to the design. Glass-fronted cabinets evoke a feeling of openness, and integrated appliances blend well with the rest of space. “Stainless steel felt harsh at the Shore,” says Kiefner. “We didn’t want an industrial aesthetic.” 

The kitchen opens to a great room with a game table, a reading nook with a comfy window-seat cushion, and cozy seating by the fireplace. A covered porch expands the living area and affords pristine coastal views. 

Left to right: the master bathroom features marble tiling in a herringbone pattern with custom-designed rope detail

One with nature

Given the seaside location, natural materials were the preferred choice throughout the home. Oversized slabs of honed Vermont Danby marble cover the first floor. Unlike traditional polished marble, it has a chalkiness not unlike sand.
The second and third floors feature oak flooring in a driftwood shade-. And in the great room, the furniture and accessories are covered in linen, cotton and woven seagrass fibers.  

Kiefner also had a hand in the landscape design. Around the pool and terraces, he selected durable Ipe hardwood decking to blend with the environment. “We didn’t want anything too fussy,” says Kiefner. “Nowhere in the house—either indoors or outdoors—are there fussy finishes or anything with a level of fanciness.” 

The Ipe also serves as the coping around the pool, so it blends perfectly with the deck. Plantings are on the simple side: grasses, Russian sage, blue salvia. 

Kiefner opted for a bolder aesthetic in the outdoor kitchen, where he stained the cabinets a bright blue to complement fabric in the room.

the great room, with its abundant natural light

Perfect partners

The home’s female owner was involved extensively in the project, making multiple shopping excursions with Kiefner. On one trip, they found custom hand-blown glass goblets, which they used for the chandelier in the new home’s soaring entryway. “She really enjoyed the whole process,” says Kiefner. “We were such a great team.” 

So much so that they’re planning another project together. “That’s so fun to say that we’re going to work together again,” he says. “It reinforces what this is all about. The clients and I really had fun working together, and that makes the experience a really positive one.”

Bonus online images:

 

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