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Rehoboth’s oceanfront was once dotted with quaint, unassuming beach houses, but these days,  some are beginning to give way to multimillion-dollar mansions with bold, arresting designs. One Baltimore family recently super-sized its oceanfront two-story cottage in Rehoboth Beach, enlarging the home from 3,000 to 8,000 square feet. The new square footage not only provided more space for family and friends— it created more stunning views of the Atlantic.

From the second-level living room, French doors open to a wooden walkway that leads right to the beach. The easy access means family members and guests run in and out from the beach all day, so this home was designed to handle sandy feet and wet bathing suits, with casual furniture— slipcovered chairs and couches— and light wood and tile floors throughout.

Julie Hill, interior design manager for Mark Showell Interiors in Rehoboth Beach, balanced the large house’s grandeur with old Rehoboth charm, adding a touch of the tropical and a punch of whimsy. “As soon as you enter the foyer, you feel like kicking off your shoes for a fun, relaxing time,” says Hill. Coral-colored draperies with white pompom trim adorn the tall windows and a painting of an exotic island paradise hangs on the wall. Lined with faux bead-board wallpaper, the walls are reminiscent of the older Rehoboth homes that sport the real thing.

The main living level is designed with an open plan and decorated in neutral tones with shots of vibrant color. Floor-to-ceiling windows line the entire rear of the house and offer a beach lover’s view: a thin line of sand and blue, blue ocean.

With its tall cabinets, neutral Corian countertops and two dishwashers, the kitchen is perfect for entertaining frequent weekend guests. In the dining room, an octagon-shaped glass-and-rattan table and cream-colored armchairs with green, pink and orange cushions offer seating for both intimate dinner parties and casual games of monopoly. The soft multi-colored rug reminds Hill of a “cable-knit sweater.”

The adjoining living room has three sofas and two comfy chairs and is “great for entertaining, but also a great place to curl up and read a book,” says Hill. In the middle of the room rests an oversized distressed wood coffee table painted white. Other than the ocean, the room’s focal point is a bright green, abstract painting of palm leaves, hanging over the sofa. A basket of colorful beach towels, each monogrammed with a family member’s name, sits by the door, beckoning the way to the beach.

A side sunroom furnished with slipcovered couches and chairs is the perfect place for the family to play games and watch television in wet bathing suits. “The owners decided to let it just be casual,” says Hill. Throw cushions in coral and white tropical patterns give the room an island feel. Rattan chairs at the small breakfast table are slipcovered with tangerine-and-white cabana stripes.

Each of the home’s three guest suites has its own theme and complementing bathroom. One is reminiscent of a country cottage, with pine furniture, sheer gauze draperies and chintz bedding. A second sports a more youthful feel, with twin beds, yellow walls adorned with butterfly prints and blue gingham wallpaper in the bathroom. The third suite is called the West Indies room in honor of the family’s love of the islands. It features dark blue striped wallpaper, bamboo and rattan furniture, blue and yellow seashell cotton bedding and draperies and a bathroom with a whimsical tropical wallpaper. All of the rooms’ windows feature 4-inch-wide plantation shutters, providing unhindered views and welcome sea breezes when open and ample shade when closed.

On the third level, the walls and arched ceiling of the master bedroom are wallpapered with a green bamboo-like print that lends the feel of a big, thatched hut. Hill added purple silk hydrangea, a flower found in the gardens of many Rehoboth homes, to the bedstand for a jolt of color.

In a child’s bedroom decorated in bold primary colors, the bedding is hand-painted with tropical fish and the sheer curtains are appliqued with real seashells. Tumbled glass tiles on the floor and on the inside shower wall appear translucent, like a magical barrier between the shower and the sea life beyond.

It’s a beach house sure to impress guests, but also make them feel right at home. Children scamper around with boogie boards while adults sip margaritas. And the ocean is always just a few steps away. 

Shannon Canton is assistant editor of Delaware Today.

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