Bethany Home Goes for the Family Vibe
A couple finds just the right spot to build a spacious Bethany Beach getaway to accommodate children and grandchildren.
The second-floor sitting room, like much of the home, is decorated in blues and whites.
For many years, Edwin and Linda Feulner enjoyed spending time with their two children at their vacation home in Bethany Beach. Then the kids grew up, got married and had children of their own. So the Feulners started looking for a new home that would readily accommodate three generations.
“It had to be a place that would be fun for our grandchildren because we want them to keep coming back,” Ed says. The couple looked at a number of homes, but the ideal fit remained elusive. Then their real estate agent showed them a plot with an ocean view, essentially a blank canvas on which they could paint their vision of a family retreat. “At first, we thought, why would we want to look at a lot?” Ed recalls. “Then we realized it was an opportunity.”
The Feulners envisioned a three-story home, with each floor fulfilling a designated need: a ground floor for recreation, the second floor for their adult children and their families, and the third floor as a multigenerational gathering space, plus a master suite and study. The crowning touch: a fourth-story deck with expansive sea views. “We wanted open, high ceilings, big rooms, a lot of light,” Linda says.
The bedrooms are spacious and well-lit.
THE DREAM TEAM
Ed retired in 2013 from his longtime post as president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., and is now a consultant. He named each of the three floors of his vacation home for champions of the right—Margaret Thatcher, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and Ronald Reagan—illustrated with his collection of personal photographs.
To translate their wish list into a family-friendly getaway, the Feulners turned to architect Scott Edmonson of Sea Studio and builder Allen Curtis of Cottage Construction Co., both of Bethany. Two gifted family members also provided expertise. The couple’s daughter, Emily Lown, is an interior designer based in New York. Their son, EJ Feulner, is president of AHT Global, a suburban Philadelphia-based firm that designs and installs smart technology in homes, commercial properties and yachts.
“We truly had a dream team,” Ed says. The ground floor is home to a pool, sauna and pingpong table, recreational antidotes to a rainy day at the beach. There’s also a room dedicated to Ed’s collection of model trains. On the second floor, there are bedrooms and baths for the extended family, plus a sitting room for gathering, decorated in blues and white. Built-in cupboards provide storage for toys and games. The desk is from Thailand, where the Feulners’ daughter and son-in-law once lived. A brilliantly colored painting depicts duck herders in Bali.
Throughout the house, smart technology provides security, mood lighting, music and niceties such as raising and lowering blackout shades. “We control it with our iPads,” Ed says. “It’s awesome.”
The master bath and its seamless shower invite a steady stream of natural light.
OPEN AND AIRY
Because a “no hammer” rule prohibits construction in the community between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the house took a year and a half to build.
The upside of a pause in a project is that it offers an opportunity for contemplation. When the Feulners saw the soaring open beams on the third story, they decided to maximize the ceiling height to a full 15 feet. “We looked at it and decided to leave it that way,” Ed says. “The volume and openness are just great.”
An expansive kitchen is outfitted with a separate, full-size refrigerator and freezer. A large island and additional sink accommodate multiple cooks as well as prep space for vegetarian cooking. There’s plenty of room for the grandchildren to do art projects. “We are not on top of each other in this kitchen,” Ed says.
The kitchen is efficient whether the Feulners are on their own or the three generations are congregating in the space. A pair of two-drawer dishwashers allows the family to use only the cleaning power they need. “When we’re alone, we use one drawer,” Linda says.
The massive hood over the commercial-style range is an artistic, one-of-a-kind statement in woodworking, showcasing the dramatic ceiling height. Stone for the countertops was imported from Italy and fabricated on site. “It’s between granite and marble, but it doesn’t stain like marble,” Linda says. “You can set a glass of red wine on it and not worry.”
The centerpiece of the bar is an antique wine cage Ed discovered on a trip to France 46 years ago. “I got it before we were married for my bachelor place in Georgetown [D.C.],” he recalls.
Floors of white oak complement the clean lines of the decor. “The cut is very linear, with no knots or swirls,” Linda says. The third-floor master suite is a tranquil retreat with the added benefit of one-floor living. “When we are here by ourselves, it’s like an apartment,” she says.
A large island and additional sink in the expansive kitchen accommodate multiple cooks.
THE PERFECT TABLE
A large screened porch adjoins the gathering space. An expanse of foldable doors provides an open passageway during the warmer months. “We positioned it right outside the kitchen because we wanted to eat out here,” Linda says. “In our old house, the kids were taking food through the house to get to the porch, leaving a little trail as they went.”
Happily, much of the furniture from their former beach house was compatible with their new getaway. The long, rectangular dining table was reinterpreted as a desk in Ed’s study. The couple searched for a round pedestal dining table for the new house, large enough to comfortably seat nine people. The Feulners’ daughter found a picture of a table at a furniture store in the Hamptons that she thought would be a good match and emailed an image to her parents.
But she wanted to see the piece in person, just to make sure. Fortuitously, the store was making a delivery of the same table to an address near her in New York, allowing her to make a quick inspection. “She hopped up in the truck and took a look, then called me and said, ‘Mom, you’re going to love it,’” Linda recalls. “She was right.”
The Feulner home is one of a number of noteworthy residences that will be featured on the 24th annual Beach and Bay Cottage Tour on Wednesday, July 22, and Thursday, July 23, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets are $30. Proceeds benefit the Friends of the South Coastal Library. Visit www.beachandbaycottagetour.com for details.