A drive through a gated community in Rehoboth offers glimpses of attractive, recently built homes that could be almost anywhere. But exit the car outside one of those houses—in this case, the one belonging to designer Shawn Evans and his husband, Joe Patrone, a human resources executive—and fresh ocean breezes make it clear that the beach is not far away.
This is what the couple was after when they selected the lot for their vacation home. “We wanted to be near the water but not in a touristy area,” says Evans. “The location is a nice compromise—less than a mile to the boardwalk but completely peaceful.”
The quarter-acre property presented a challenge: how to accommodate a private weekend getaway while hemmed in by surrounding homes. Evans, owner of the design firm P Four, had an unusual solution in mind: to build the house around a pool and patio in a private central courtyard. “I always wanted a U-shaped house,” Evans explains. “I like the way it flows and what it does for connectivity throughout.” To make the vision a reality, the designer assembled a team that included architect Gregory Sparhawk of gps designs, and OPaL Construction.
Now complete, the 4,800-square-foot house boasts seven bedrooms—a requirement for Evans and Patrone, who entertain in large numbers. “Shawn and Joe wanted curb appeal, coupled with a program for seven bedrooms on a fairly small lot,” recalls Sparhawk. “I designed a two-story structure at the rear that houses four bedrooms upstairs. The main living space wraps the courtyard and addresses the street with lower-profile façades.”
To the right of the courtyard, the front entry opens into a porch. Just ahead, a door leads to the foyer while to the left, the swimming pool and patio beckon. A NanaWall separates the courtyard from the interior; when it’s open, the spaces flow seamlessly together. To the left of the courtyard, a mudroom connects the pool to a changing area; the dining room lies beyond, leading to the open-plan kitchen and great room in the center volume. Flanked by privacy fencing, a gazebo shields the courtyard on the street side.
The two-story great room contains stairs to the second floor and a catwalk that connects the guest bedrooms. The master suite and another guest room occupy the main floor. Though the bedrooms are small, vaulted ceilings offset their size. The dining room, too, boasts a vaulted ceiling—this one embellished with unusual decorative trusses designed around huge twin chandeliers Evans salvaged from a church that was being dismantled.
Sparhawk describes the house as “a Shingle-style coastal home that strikes a balanced chord between contemporary and traditional.” The interiors mirror this aesthetic. With help from P Four creative director Jill Mastrostefano, Evans conceived a plan “using neutral colors to create a casual, comfortable style,” he says. Throughout the house, a palette of crisp white and beige with charcoal accents conveys a cohesive aesthetic, while antique and vintage furniture and accessories combine with modern design elements. A sleek fireplace with a clean-lined, porcelain-tile surround in the great room is juxtaposed with a traditional-style staircase. Sofas with linen slipcovers and Bernhardt leather chairs accommodate as many as 15 around a five-by seven-foot custom coffee table.
Throughout the house, a sophisticated coastal vibe prevails, with organic materials like reclaimed-wood beams on the living room ceiling and bleached, engineered-wood floors that look like driftwood. “I wanted hints of the beach without being trite,” observes Evans, who framed vintage mens’ bathing suits as art and selected Ralph Lauren grasscloth wall coverings, sisal rugs, rope tiebacks and even a sculpted school of fish—resin finished with silver—that creates a playful focal point on the great room wall.
In the six bathrooms and two kitchens (a catering kitchen is tucked behind the main one and leads via a butler’s pantry to the dining room), a classic sensibility is reflected through custom cabinetry and marble countertops and backsplash. The guest baths even boast marble tub and shower surrounds. Reclaimed-wood pillars and pendants made from vintage glass wine spheres add interest in the main kitchen, where a massive island seats eight.
For Evans and Patrone, their weekend beach getaway is everything they wanted—as was the experience of creating it. “It was a great partnership,” says Evans. “A real collaboration between the builder, architect, interior design team, Joe and me.” Now, it’s time to relax.
Stacy Zarin Goldberg is a photographer based in Olney, Maryland.
ARCHITECTURE: GREGORY SPARHAWK, AIA, gps designs, Vienna, Virginia. INTERIOR DESIGN: SHAWN EVANS, principal, JILL MASTROSTEFANO, creative director, P Four, Alexandria, Virginia. BUILDER: OPaL, LLC, Cabin John, Maryland.