In 2010, Stuart Rodgers and her husband, Tim, owner of Hill & Co. Realtors, set out to find a home where they and their six grown children and 10 grandchildren could all vacation together. What they ended up with was “a 1973 brick rancher that was so ugly,” Stuart recalls, that when the couple showed a picture of it to friends, they started laughing. “They thought we were kidding!” says Stuart, laughing herself. “It was that bad.”
But the couple loved the Henlopen Acres community and the lot itself, about a mile from the beach. And in just six months, builders took the entire house down to its foundation—preserving just a brick fireplace and hardwood floors in three rooms—while creating a comfortable vacation home for the family. “If you could see what it first looked like and what it looks like now, it’s night and day,” says Stuart.
The Rodgers’ only request to architect Tony Beto was to create a home that was big enough to accommodate everybody, “but not to make it look like a McMansion.” Beto designed a large, cottage-style home that could comfortably sleep 26, with six spacious bedrooms on the second floor—including a “dorm room” for eight—and a first-floor master suite and den.
Now the home is filled with activity throughout the summer, with family members and friends coming and going every week. Guests ride bikes to the private beach or swim in the backyard pool. The clan is large enough to hold “family Olympics” with egg toss contests and three-legged races on the property. “It’s hysterical,” says Stuart. “The adults grab the kids and run with them, and then at some point, everybody starts drinking.”
After a day at the beach, dinners in the contemporary kitchen are an elaborate affair, with each family member taking a turn at cooking, trying to outdo one another. “It’s almost like a contest,” says Stuart, “but it’s great because it takes the onus off me. [With six kids], I’ve done my fair share of cooking, trust me.”
Inside, the home is a medley of bright aquas, cheery yellows and deep blues. Stuart, who operates her own interior design firm, says she wanted to infuse the residence with the colors of the beach, bringing the outside in. “I’ve always loved color and we wanted a cheerful place that looked very different than our home in Baltimore,” says Stuart of the Baltimore County townhouse to which the couple recently moved. “A beach house should be happy, right?”
The home is furnished in a mix of contemporary pieces and “casual” antiques accumulated over the years at auctions and from local shops. Hot pink chairs or an orange headboard add additional pops of color.
And although the house sleeps more than two dozen, Stuart says the most they’ve accommodated so far is 21; however, she expects nearly a full house this summer —exactly the kind of crazy family atmosphere the couple imagined when they purchased that ugly rancher four years ago. “After we downsized to our townhome, we didn’t have a place for all the kids to come. But we figured they’d come to a vacation house—and they do.”
Architect: Tony Beto, 302-644-7726
Builders: Premier Developers, Dave Forand, 302-632-6792, and Eric Wilber, 302-542-8171
Interior Design: Stuart Rodgers Interior Design, 443-562-5232
Landscape Architect: Kathryn Downs, 302-227-8984
Landscaping: Craig Morris, Freedom Landscape & Irrigation Inc., 302-436-7100
Faux finishing: David Shafto, 917-282-0439
Lighting: Jones Lighting Specialists, 410-828-1010
Draperies: Meadow Mill Draperies, 410-889-0156
Upholstery: Ibello Upholstery, 410-243-1163
Tile: Chesapeake Tile & Marble, 410-363-7363