From the foot of their driveway, Leslie Kopp and Chuck Coltman's three-story, seaside retreat is as imposing a Victorian structure as one is likely to encounter along the shores of Bethany Beach, Del.
The exterior is as formal as a portrait of a great-great-grandmother but is tempered with lace-like, gingerbread wooden embellishments. Narrow in width, yet almost five times that in its depth, the 25-foot-wide-by-121-foot-deep structure could easily take its place with the well-kept, mid-19th-century townhouses found in many cities. But the Kopp house stands alone — in more ways than one.
With one step through the entrance, this staunch Victorian lady gives way to a cool and sleek example of 21st-century interior design.
"We wanted a bold, modern [interior] but with an Asian flair," said Leslie Kopp, a 45-year-old realtor. The custom-designed beach home was completed in June 2008, just in time to be the setting for her wedding to Chuck Coltman, a 68-year-old retired banker.
Their "seaside lady" features a ground-level entrance that includes a two-car garage, foyer, storage room, work-out room, bath and shower and utility rooms. Striking are the painted gray paneled walls at the staircase leading to the open second-story living space where filtered light from a wall of windows splashes on minimalist, neutral decor.
"We bought this property with a cottage on it and then found a builder," Kopp says. "We knew what we wanted and knew where we wanted things to go."
Above all, they didn't want a long, boxy interior. Instead, the builder cleverly used partitions of open shelving to designate dining room and kitchen, which then opens onto the living room. Five sliding glass doors lead to a deck with beach and ocean beyond. The colors of the steel gray sea and light creamy surf are reflected in the living room, with light walnut flooring and neutral covered furniture before a light stone fireplace.
The home won the "Pinnacle of Design" award in 2009 sponsored by the National Kitchen and Bath Association's Design Contest for Medium Kitchens. Kopp credits the work of winning designer, Jennifer Gilmer of Chevy Chase, for providing the kitchen of her dreams based on the practical considerations she outlined. Kopp knew that, no matter how large (or open) the house, guests always want to gather at the kitchen table. But her space — impeccably designed with dark walnut cabinetry and frosted glass inserted into horizontal wood panes for the Asian look — did not offer room for gathering. She requested a round portion somehow be added to the island. Gilmer came up with the radically different, award-winning solution that garnered the award.
"She built a movable [round] table, six feet in diameter that would slide up over the island when not in use." Pulled out, this two-inch-thick solid piece of walnut with island chairs encircling it solves the problem innovatively and attractively.
Teak sculptures from Thailand rest on a shelf at the staircase from the second floor to the third level. Four bedrooms and three bathrooms are on this floor, each stylishly decorated in subtle beach decor and each accessed by solid, stained double doors. In addition to a lovely sea view and balcony, the master bedroom has two closets, a Carrara marble bath and a second washer and dryer. A 3-foot-by-5-foot Hunt Slonem impressionistic painting of parakeets lords over the hallway where two large wall mirrors reflect light from the hall windows and bounce it toward the bedrooms.
To call the couple happy with their beach dwelling is an understatement.
"I have never lived in a home as nice as this," said Chuck Coltman. "And it is unusual to have [it] year round."
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Making the dream
Dream element: Leslie Kopp and Chuck Coltman's ocean-front home sits on a 12,000-square-foot lot in North Bethany Beach, Del., in a neighborhood of similar cottages. With a white sand beach for its front yard, the home's star attraction is the ocean. Theirs is a quiet beach, and a year-long lifestyle at a comfortable distance from tourist attractions, yet there when they want them, just a few miles up or down Ocean Highway.
Dream design: The exterior of the home is fashioned of maintenance-free, hardy shingle in a tan shade with coordinating mustard-colored shutters. Exterior trappings include an ocean-front Brazilian hardwood deck. The back of the three-story structure boasts a screened-in sun porch that runs the entire width of the home.
Dream interior: The couple have embellished their home with sculpture collected from travels and modern art they have purchased together. The second-level den is filled with photographs of the family pet, a Golden Retriever named Lucky. A prized, framed original sketch of Capt. Horatio Hornblower by artist N.C. Wyeth dated 1939 is hung on a wall that is papered in dyed sea grass. This illustration was a template for the cover of a C.S. Forrester's novel, in the author's Hornblower series. Coltman proudly displays the entire collection and revisits them periodically.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun