Home & Design

A bold Marmoleum entry floor hints at what’s to come.

The crisp-white foyer, punctuated by a Calder-esque chandelier, centers on an open stair designed for the space; a custom-made neon sign sends the right message for a sojourn at the beach.

On the stair landing, an Arteriors bench sits beneath an installation from Phillips Collection fashioned out of crushed paint cans; the bedroom hallway is visible, showcasing a painting by Eleni Pratsi.

The open-plan upper level houses the sleek kitchen.

The living area is furnished in white.

Bright colors pop in pillows, art and accessories.

The family congregates on the screened porch.

The office/game room is animated by a Brian Thomas Jones wall sculpture; Wesley Hall chairs in assorted colors surround a Global Views table.

The plunge pool is bordered by changing rooms.

Color schemes set each bedroom apart. A guest room in Benjamin Moore’s Hot Spice features a built-in headboard in the same hue.

Created with grandkids in mind, the bunk room sports accents in Benjamin Moore’s Nile Green, with a closet custom-outfitted for storage.

In the coordinating bathroom, skateboards adorn one wall.

A dramatic redo created a glass entry and added a primary suite and deck to the front façade.

Ocean Breeze

Jamie Merida Interiors enlivens a Bethany cottage with bright colors and a sense of fun

A retired couple purchased a diminutive getaway with big ideas for its future. Situated a block from the ocean in Bethany Beach, Delaware, the 1,500-square-foot, circa-1960s cottage had become outmoded and dysfunctional over time—so the owners embarked on an overhaul with help from architect Jonathon Selway and Jamie Merida Interiors. The goals were to create a getaway where they could easily accommodate their two grown kids and families; foster indoor-outdoor connectivity; and impart contemporary style via clean lines and loads of color.

The plan maintained the original layout, with four bedrooms and an exercise room on the ground floor and public spaces above. A primary suite and deck were added at the front of the house. A new, second-level screened porch on the rear overlooks a recently installed plunge pool beside a shed that contains changing rooms.

Denise Perkins of Jamie Merida Interiors spearheaded the interiors. Working in tandem with principal Jamie Merida, she conjured a fresh, modern take on beach cottage style. “It was a gut job,” notes Perkins. “We were able to turn a dated house into a little jewel box.” A Q&A with the designers about the process follows.


How does the reimagined front entrance set the tone?
Jamie: It’s an amazing space, a solid glass volume that’s like a lighthouse at night. It contains an open staircase that replaced the original enclosed one, which was in a different spot in the house. When you arrive, all you see is glass and stair.

Share the story behind the white neon sign over the staircase.
Jamie: During the project, we were looking for quotes to reflect the philosophy of the house. That one kept coming up, so we had it custom-made in neon for the space.

Discuss how the main level evolved.
Denise: The vaulted shiplap ceiling is just about the only thing we kept from the original cottage. There was already an open plan on the main floor, but the space is used completely differently now. We relocated the kitchen because it was cramped and faced the street. We added built-ins along the fireplace wall and on one wall of the game room, where we incorporated a desk and shelving. The floor is a driftwood-look luxury vinyl tile that disguises any sand that gets tracked in.

What inspired the color scheme, which is such a defining element?
Denise: The owners like clean, crisp and contemporary. They requested all-white interiors with pops of bold, saturated color. We chose a Marmoleum floor for the entry in bright orange, turquoise, yellow and green. We added red to that palette and then ran with it on fabrics, decorative objects and art.

What role does art play in the décor?
Jamie: The colors in this house are like a Mondrian painting: clear, strong, saturated and true. We looked for art to reflect that palette and had fun with it. Denise found a light fixture for the entrance hall that looks like a Calder mobile. And there’s a fabulous piece on the landing made of crunched, recycled paint cans. In the eating area, there’s a kind of totem pole piece that reminds me of the London Underground signs.

Talk about the evolution of the two-tone countertop.
Denise: The kitchen is mainly white with black accents. The island’s countertop is both black and white. The owner didn’t want a seam in it but the size of the island would have required one. So we leaned into it with slabs of quartz in contrasting colors.

How did you achieve a connection to the outdoors?
Jamie: The screened porch in back is comfortably located under the trees so you always feel a breeze. It holds a big dining table that seats eight—custom-made in white quartz with a black stripe to echo the island countertop—and outdoor furniture for lounging.

How did you differentiate each of the tiny bedrooms?
Denise: I used bold colors and patterns in the three guest rooms. I do that to make rooms look bigger. I designed custom headboards for each bedroom; they're attached to the walls and bedframes to save space. There are two guest baths that play off the bedrooms in terms of color. The primary bedroom is black and white with a strong tree-motif wallpaper on an accent wall behind the bed and matching drapery; the ensuite bath is white and gold with black accents.

What was the secret to fitting four bedrooms into the original footprint?
Denise: They’re like staterooms, with not an inch of wasted space. The owners wanted king-sized beds in all but the bunkroom, mainly because their families like their dogs to sleep with them. We put in California king beds; you can hardly turn sideways, but we made it work! No room for dressers so we outfitted the closets with built-ins for storage.

What is special about the new pool and its surroundings?
Jamie: It’s a plunge pool—very small. It’s located at the back of the house where an existing shed was repurposed and now contains outdoor showers and changing rooms. They’re protected by an overhang. A live roof was planted over the shed, so you see that beautiful expanse of green instead of just an ugly rooftop when you look out from the porch above. It’s a really nice touch.

Renovation Architecture: Jonathon Selway, AIA, Jona- thon Selway Architects, Selbyville, Delaware. Interior Design: Jamie Merida, principal; Denise Perkins, lead designer, Jamie Merida Interiors, Easton, Maryland. Renovation Contractor: Boardwalk Builders, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Landscape Architecture: Topio Landscape Architecture, Selbyville, Delaware. Styling: Charlotte Safavi.


How do you make a coastal look feel fresh?
Jamie: It’s tricky. We’ve been trying to get away from typical navy and white with colors like sea glass. And this house is like a beach ball with all its colors, which is a fresh take in itself.

Share tips on integrating lots of color.
Denise: A base of white helps ensure a space doesn’t end up looking like a carnival. Here, I stuck to four or five colors in the same hue and intensity and repeated them.

Name a trend you’ve had enough of?
Jamie: I hope I’ll never see another gray kitchen with a blue island.

What beloved possession would you never part with?
Denise: My dad was an artist; I would never give up his paintings.
Jamie: I would sell just about anything! But I do have a baby grand piano that I love because my under-graduate degree is in piano.


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