Home & Design

Spiral stairs afford grandchildren easy access from the dock and pool to their upper lair. The swivel chair is from Casual Marketplace in Delaware.

A second-story ipe deck overlooks the water.

A blue-painted island leans nautical, anchoring the kitchen designed by Kitchen Creations; windows flank the range to keep water views in the chef’s sights.

A laundry off the kitchen ensures convenient one-floor living.

 Sailboat-themed Caitlin Wilson wallpaper enlivens the powder room.

A Visual Comfort pendant illuminates a recycled-barnwood dining table and rattan chairs from Serena & Lily.

A wicker-filled screened porch combines simplicity, elegance and practicality.

The great room offers plenty of soft seating in shades of cream and pale blue; upholstered furnishings were drop-shipped from Acquisitions Interiors in Charleston.

Architectural detailing defines the fireplace wall.

A textured-wool carpet in denim blue adds pattern and warmth to the peaceful, first-floor primary suite, enlivened by blue-and-white, pagoda-themed pillows from Bountiful Home in Easton, Maryland.

A bluestone pool terrace is laid flush to disappear into the lawn.

Architect Christine Mizak Dayton designed an understated getaway on a prime site overlooking the Miles River, where breezy porches and an upper deck beckon.

Calm Oasis

A three-generation family enjoys downtime together in a new St. Michaels retreat

From their first trip 25 years ago, Bill and Megan Goeller were smitten by the Chesapeake lifestyle. The Delaware-based couple made yearly visits for a decade—boating on the bay, fishing for stripers, enjoying the hospitality of the Inn at Perry Cabin—before they got serious about establishing a base in the area to share with now-grown children and grandchildren. Another decade passed before the right spot materialized: a prized half-acre lot on the Miles River in St. Michaels, Maryland, where their sparkling-new Cape Cod-style refuge offers a breezy, columned porch topped by a white-railed deck from which to revel in the magnificent view.

“We fell in love with St. Michaels when we first visited,” recalls Megan Goeller, wife, mother and chief influencer behind the project’s casual style. “It’s a calmer pace of life, with kind people and beautiful views.”

Veterans of home-building projects, the couple had previously built a getaway from scratch in South Carolina and were constructing a new residence in Wilmington—where Bill is president of an electrical contracting concern—when they called architect Christine Mizak Dayton of Easton, Maryland, in 2019.

“What brought them here was their love of the water. They also wanted to create a home that could entertain the family,” notes Dayton, who captured the spirit of St. Michaels with the couple’s relaxed, two-story, 6,000-square-foot retreat, completed by Focus Construction in 2021. Four thousand square feet of heated living space centers on an open-plan, 24-by-35-foot great room incorporating living, dining and cooking. An adjacent primary suite looks out to a screened porch. Upstairs, four ensuite bedrooms plus a bunk room over a two-car garage await visiting family. The house has six and a half baths in all, including two sharing a shower.

The interior skews lively, with a classic, blue-and-white palette that mixes export-style porcelain with easy-care rattan, cane and wicker furniture. The inspiration and acquisitions came from Megan herself. “I went here, there and everywhere,” she says of shopping adventures that took her from Delaware to South Carolina, as well as nearby Easton. “I wanted it to be light, bright and airy, but I didn’t want grandchildren to worry,” she adds. “I have a lot of antiques in our other homes but we did not want that formality here.”

Built on a tranquil, shady lane, the new house presents its charms quietly. Once inside, visitors are greeted with spectacle: a vista through the great room that extends to open water. “When you come in the front door, you immediately gain a sense of what’s beyond,” says Dayton. Wraparound, double-hung Marvin windows flood the kitchen and dining areas with daylight and views, while sliding-glass doors open wide to the porch overlooking the riverscape that drew the owners to this spot.

“We wanted the house to be built around the view,” says Megan Goeller. “Christine was really tuned in to what we had in mind.”

The layout is straightforward. The foyer opens to the owners’ suite on the right. Straight ahead is the great room, with a fireplace set in a wall of lightly detailed, painted paneling. At left, an open stair hall leads past a powder room to the laundry and mudroom that connect the kitchen and garage. Ceilings are nine feet throughout. The first floor has wide-plank, white oak flooring in the great room and primary suite, while the utility spaces and outdoor surfaces are tiled with bluestone.

The kitchen, designed in collaboration with Kitchen Creations of Easton, was especially important to Megan, who wanted to enjoy views from her Thermador range and from what she calls her blueberry-colored, quartz-topped island. “I cook a lot,” she points out. High-style cabinets improve the view from the sitting area; their design echoes glass-fronted models Dayton has in her own home.

The upper level has evolved. The architect included a sitting area at the top of the stairs. The owners gained a den by reclaiming a central bedroom that opens to the deck. A spiral staircase was added from the deck to the lawn, simplifying the route to the pool. The Goellers acquired the site by partnering with another family to split a double lot where a vintage house has since been demolished. Dayton, who designed new homes for both families, gave each its own identity. “This one is classy but not overly formal,” she says.

Siting respects a 75.5-foot setback from the water and also protects peripheral views from the porch. “I can’t see anything but nature,” Megan says. As Eastern Shore residents know well, seasons have their glories. So do porches. In the winter months, the Goellers enjoy the sunny west-facing front porch overlooking their quiet neighborhood. Come nicer weather, the east-facing porch becomes a favored spot for gazing at the pool and the Miles River.

“Christine was so good at having a vision,” says Megan. “This is a simple home, but it lives so comfortably. It’s the perfect house.”

Architecture: Christine Mizak Dayton, AIA, Christine M. Dayton Architect, P.A., Easton, Maryland. Kitchen Design: Kitchen Creations, Easton, Maryland. Builder: Focus Construction, Ltd., Easton, Maryland. Landscape Design: Solidago Landscapes, Church Hill, Maryland.

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