How This Beach House Was Designed to House Three Generations of Women

Hadley Keller
·4-min read
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen

From House Beautiful

Any designer—or anyone who's hired a designer—knows that good interior projects require compromise. There's always a balance between the designer and the homeowner, function and aesthetics, and quite often, the question of finding middle ground between different tastes and needs in one family. This last hurdle is becoming more common than ever as America sees a new resurgence in multigenerational households. Whether it's in-laws moving in, adult children living with their parents, or both, designers across the country are grappling with creating spaces that speak to many generations. That was the case for Rehoboth Beach–based designer Jess Weeth, who was recently tasked with creating a welcoming beach house for not one, not two, but three generations of women.

"We needed to create a house that all three of them would enjoy," Weeth tells House Beautiful of her trio of clients. That meant creating accessible spaces for the grandmother, gathering areas for the adult granddaughter, and a balance between private rooms and open spaces where the family could convene.

Her ability to create a functional, livable space took on renewed importance this past year, when the somewhat quiet Delaware vacation town saw an influx of full-time residents—including this family. "Their plan was to spend maybe four months a year there," she says "But now they are living there full-time."

Here's how Weeth created a house the whole family would want to quarantine in.

Living Room

Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen

"I wanted it to feel like you're at the beach but also strike a balance between that barefoot, laid-back look and still having it feel polished," says Weeth. She found that middle ground by incorporating more subtle, tailored nods to coastal decor in natural elements, like rattan and raffia accessories, or the cane-front built-in cabinets in the living room, shown here.

While all three women had distinct styles, Weeth says, what united them was "they absolutely love blue! All shades of blue." So, in the home's shared spaces, "the palette kept things looking cohesive, even with the mix of, say, the more traditional-shaped sofa with the modern-lined coffee table."

Meanwhile, the living room's mix of two sofas, club chairs, and easily-moveable stools make for a flexible setup conducive to solo lounging, family game nights, or any other type of gathering.

Kitchen

Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen

In a contrast to the typical white kitchen–obsessed client, this trio was open to color in the kitchen, says Weeth. That said, the designer wanted to strike a balance between statement-making and timeless. "It was important to me to find a blue that they were going to love for a long time," Weeth says. "I love bold but some of the things they were suggesting were really blue." She settled on a Sherwin-Williams hue with a grayish undertone for the island, then kept the cabinets white. The drapes, meanwhile, bring in the blue and "bring that color to life."

To add a little bit of the grandmother's glam tastes to an otherwise fairly classic kitchen, Weeth added brass pendants and a gold Schluter edge between the marble tiles to provide the most subtle, shimmery glow of metallic. "It brings out the light and the whole kitchen just kind of glimmers," says the designer.

Deck

Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen

"If every single piece could have been woven, they probably would have gone for it," quips Weeth of the furniture. "So I tried to strike a balance by bringing in some darker wood tones to make it feel more grounded. A little bit of contrast is important when everything is so light."

Hall

Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen

"This long, narrow hallway was the entry into the space and they really wanted to make it a dramatic entry," says Weeth. The addition of decorative millwork, lanterns, and large-scale art get the effect.

Bedroom

Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen

The youngest client was the most reserved when it came to color, so, Weeth says, "We continued the palette with blues but we went for more muted tones, and made it more about texture," adding a woven headboard and rattan swing.

Bedroom

Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen

The mother, meanwhile, "really wanted those light French blues and some cerulean tones," achieved in the wallpaper and headboard here.

Bathroom

Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen
Photo credit: Keyanna Bowen

"It was really a priority to have the bathrooms be ADA-compliant," says Weeth. That meant incorporating anti-slip elements, grab bars, and wide openings—but not sacrificing style. "I wanted to make it feel dressy and not like it was a compromise in any way," she emphasizes. "So all of the fixtures, even the grab bars, are a beautiful brass. And then the tile is such a statement—those elements feel a little more like jewelry and not just like a functional component alone."

"It was fun for me to have to look at these specifics," says the designer. "It was a lot less automatic and a lot more planned, down to the last detail."

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