Celebrated as a “boaters’ town,” Brielle enjoys miles of waterfront along the Manasquan River. Imagine cool river breezes, the soothing sounds of water lapping against a wooden deck, the multi-hued magnificence of a setting sun slowly disappearing behind waves of seagrass swaying in the wind. The appeal of the serenity and beauty of the area’s waterside life proved irresistible for an outdoors-loving family.
“There is something peaceful about always having the river in your side view when you are doing something,” the homeowner explains. “Whether you’re sitting outside to read, watching a sports game or cooking dinner, it is always in view.”
The homeowners, young professionals with a love of water sports, found a riverfront property with killer scenery. But the existing house on the lot—a small circa 1970s Cape Cod—fell short of what they envisioned for their primary residence. That didn’t deter them, however. The river vista and the privacy afforded by its location on a small dead-end street in a residential area of high-end homes won out. They’d tear down and rebuild from scratch to create a home that satisfied all of their expectations.
Apart from expansive water views, the clients’ other objective was a design that exuded New England character with a touch of Southern charm, and featured modern functionality, comfort, lots of custom touches and an environmentally sustainable aesthetic.
To help them realize the ambitious project, the homeowners—relying on rave referrals and impressive work portfolios—enlisted their dream team. Rice and Brown Architects in Sea Girt and the Brielle-based Richard F. Hall Custom Homes took care of the architectural and construction aspects, while designer Tracy Pearce of Point Pleasant Beach-based Tracy Pearce Interior Design tackled all other facets of the interior and exterior.
“Our homes are strictly custom from beginning to end, one-of-a-kind, using the latest advancements in materials as well as Old World methods of installation,” says Richard Hall of Richard F. Hall Custom Homes. “This home is a prime example of both.”
“This home is different, but very appropriate for its location,” says Chris Rice of Rice and Brown Architects. “It’s a touch of the Low Country with a Nantucket shingle flair.”Adds his partner, Dustin Brown, “It’s classic, thoughtful and stylish.”
The project, which took 18 months from start to finish, was completed in March 2019. From the beautiful architecture designed to showcase the river views to the master carpentry to the interior finishing touches, no detail was overlooked.
“Being on the water, the home had to be constructed to hold up against wave action from possible storms,” Hall says. “The design was aesthetically pleasing and allowed the river views to be optimized.”
The result is a stunning two-and-a-half-story shingle-style home with 6,500 square feet of living space and a two-car detached garage. It boasts six bedrooms and six-and-a-half baths. The finished basement, which also includes one of the bedrooms and a full bathroom, features a gym and a rec room. The open-air decks on each floor and a large waterside covered porch—complete with a dining area, a fireplace and a grill area equipped with a Big Green Egg brand sink and beverage fridge—embrace the outdoor life; the long private dock running out over the river leads straight to a multitude of water activities. “We enjoy stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking on the river and look forward to learning to sail,” says the homeowner.
The New England state of mind is evident. “The interior doors and exterior window color were inspired by a trip to Nantucket,” the lady of the house notes. “We really love the look of the blue windows and the gray shake siding.”
Signs of Southern sensibilities contribute to the Old World charm. “Our favorite feature is the brick wall with archways from the kitchen to the living room,” the homeowner says of this graceful nod to classic Low Country architecture.
Aspects of both Southern and New England styles are seamlessly integrated throughout the exterior and interior spaces, fostering a cohesive sense of character and continuity. “The builder and I worked together to add large-scale moldings, beams and shiplap trim throughout the home,” says Pearce. For instance, the same salvaged wood mantle is matched above the outdoor and indoor living room fireplaces; the exterior bricks are repeated in multiple locations throughout the home.
For the interior decorating, the homeowners worked closely with Pearce and her team. “They came to our showroom, where we sourced everything from furniture and furniture fabrics to window treatments, lighting and accessories,” says the designer, noting that all furniture, window treatments, lighting and area rugs are from the Tracy Pearce Interior Design Furniture Showroom. The tiles are from Downtown Tile in Belmar, and the kitchen and bath cabinetry are from New Horizons Custom Interiors in Farmingdale.
Most selections were kept light and neutral. The organic furniture pieces, most upholstered in light-colored performance fabric, were chosen with an eye for functionality and entertaining. In pale palettes, they offer an understated backdrop that allows the scenery and architectural features to take center stage. Attention was given to marrying style with practicality. The teak furniture, as elegant as it is durable, and easy-to-wash, weather-resistant Sunbrella fabrics help keep the outdoor entertainment spaces hassle-free so there’s more time for leisure and less for high-maintenance worries.
To add interest, Pearce interspersed layers of organic textures and spurts of patterns and colors. For the tiles in the first-floor powder room and mudroom, she went with real concrete in star and cross patterns. “We wanted both texture and color on the floors. The tiles continue from the mudroom and are pulled into both the powder room and pantry spaces,” she notes.
The visual standout is the kitchen, which Pearce describes as “the true heart and soul of the house.” When the client requested a blue kitchen, the designer obliged with a modern farmhouse-style, open-concept design inspired by former Dancing with the Stars judge Julianne Hough’s kitchen. The blue-and-white color scheme is interspersed with wood elements and accent lighting. The bold blue color stands out in pleasing contrast to the interior black window trim and neutral tones found throughout most of the home. Other special wow factors include a brick pizza oven, two islands and a library-style ladder and rail system.
From the natural vistas afforded in nearly every room to the soothing indoor-outdoor living spaces, it’s clear that each detail optimizes the clients’ vision, and for this they couldn’t be happier. “We thoroughly enjoyed working with our architects, builders, subcontractors and interior design team to complete our forever home,” the homeowners say.
“Working with such a great team and seeing everything come together was rewarding,” says Pearce, “but coming back and seeing the clients actually live comfortably in their beautiful new house.”