“Boring is a setting on a clothes dryer,” says Barbara Peters. “You only go through life once, so you might as well have a good time.”
Peters means it. Follow the Jimmy Buffett music wafting out of her three-story beachfront home in Fenwick Island and you are sure to find her and a neighbor or two in the kitchen, cooking up a plan for their next big shindig.
Since Peters moved into the home in 1996, the neighborhood has transformed into the “Wild Corner.” Her next-door neighbor David Webster says he’s lived there for 30 years and never knew anyone until Peters moved in. This is largely because Peters’ home is the perfect setting for a beach party. Her decorating strategy brings the outside inside, which makes guests feel like they are frolicking on the beach while enjoying all the comforts of the great indoors.
The downstairs living and dining areas are decorated in neutral beige and white, taking its cue from the sand dunes outside. Local artist Patti Shreeve painted a wall by the staircase to mirror the dunes and the oceanÑ complete with a 6-foot mounted marlin literally leaping off the wall, out of the waves.
The stair landing provided the perfect place for photo ops during Peters’ “Mad Hatter” party last summer, when each of nearly 40 guests was required to wear a ridiculous hat and pose on the landing for a photo. One neighbor built a sand dune on his head complete with a yucca plant and a “Keep Off the Dunes” sign. Other hats included everything from American flags and empty beer cans to a receipt from Ocean City Medical Center.
In the upstairs master bedroom, Peters also used the “bring the outdoors indoors” strategy. The walls and ceiling are sky blue, and when she opens the plantation shutters to let in the sunshine and the sound of breaking waves, “it’s like waking up on a ship,” she says.
Peters visits the Wild Corner year-round, and stays comfortable in winter with the help of a gas fireplace. She even worked the requisite propane tank downstairs near the hot tub into the decorating scheme by painting it to look like a large woman in a polka-dot bikini. “Tank Woman” is equipped with sunglasses, flip-flops and a painted beach bag.
Winters are beautiful at the beach, but summer is the best time of year on the Wild Corner, and when it ends, residents have been known to mourn… literally. At the end of summer 2001, Peters held a funeral for the passing season in her driveway. The neighbors responded to the obituary-style invitations by appearing dressed in black tuxedos and sandals. Sixty guests partied around a hearse and tombstones in the sand to give summer its proper send-off.
But don’t get too depressed. Peters’ plans for this season’s festivities are well under way.