March-April 2014 | FOR THE GOOD LIFE




Jason Lambertson of Gateway Builders makes the good life even better for one lucky Coast Guard veteran and his wife

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Grant L. Gursky

Retired executives Richard and Barbara O’Keefe have been living the good life down on Florida for the past 12 years, but they craved a summer-escape home nonetheless. Following the recommendation of a friend from Fort Lauderdale, the O’Keefes decided to buy a beautiful lot on the Eastern Shore. It proved great advice for the couple — especially because they had Gateway Builders there to fulfill the vision for their new home.
“Mr. O’Keefe is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, so we wanted to give the home a somewhat nautical feel,” said Jason Lambertson, who’s been leading the charge for Gateway Builders in residential construction since 2002.
And so they did. The beautiful 4,619 sq. ft. building on two levels is something of an architectural hybrid, embracing the aesthetic principals of both classic Cape Cod construction and the traditional coastal beach home. The sunny yellow house includes finer touches such as DaVinci roof shingles, in a composite cedar-shake representation, over James Hardie plank siding. Wrapping around the house is an expansive porch over which a series of arched support columns preside. 
Complementary stair railings and latticework in white complete the home’s clean and stately frontage.
Inside, the floors are sumptuously decked out with gorgeous eight-inch oil-rubbed planks under lofty 10-foot ceilings with interior transoms and three-piece crown moldings sporting LED backlighting to set the warmly elegant ambiance. The kitchen features rich raised-panel showpiece cabinets in cherry, which are really set off by creamy granite countertops. 
The kitchen floor tile is heated, as is all the floor tiling throughout the home. Strategic deployment of farmhouse-style whitewashed doors adds a palpably rustic feel to the space. En route to what the O’Keefes will eventually convert to a formal dining area, meanwhile, is a custom-made dry bar/wine cooler with a lit cabinet and matching granite top.
Center stage in the spacious great room is an amazing two-story brick fireplace with wood mantle, also custom-made by Gateway’s master craftsmen. All these rooms feature spectacular ocean views on the east, including the 350 sq. ft. sunroom, which is often regarded as the nicest room in the house, according to Richard and Barbara. It’s so big and sunny, in fact, they intend to subdivide it to create a new family room and discrete dining area off the kitchen.
Separating the great room from the master suite is what Richard refers to as a hiding wall, but this is one wall that nobody would ever want to hide. That’s because it showcases a 3’x 3’ framed cutout that bears an exquisite custom-made stained-glass window brought in from California. Blue, red, green, pearlescent-white and crimson hues suffuse this multicolored masterpiece, which features maritime themes such as crabs, waves and sand and which Richard says positively glows at a certain time of day.
As one may have guessed, the master suite is commensurately large, featuring five-foot dark-wood wainscoting in vertical slats that reiterates the home’s bucolic themes. It includes a large walk-in closet with organization compartments and master bath with double sinks, detached modern soaking tub and glass walk-in shower with custom tiling and granite. The first floor includes another bedroom, too, which the couple has converted to an executive-style office.
As Richard fairly points out, the home’s second level is a self-contained living space in itself, leaving its occupants as virtually never having to come downstairs if they so chose. Not only does it include two bedrooms with the same tongue-and-groove mahogany wainscoting as downstairs, along with a full bath that boasts another walk-in glass shower with detached tub, but it also has a full, completely functional kitchen. The dining table hosts up to six, and the family room /entertainment area sports the requisite flat-screen TV and comfy seating of any proper lounge area. But the main attraction of this floor is no doubt the large exterior deck that overlooks the Atlantic as well as the entire community. Any vertical trips from this magnificent perch, meanwhile, are facilitated by its custom wood-paneled elevator for four.
The up-and-down three-car garage is, according to Richard, a work-in-process but will definitely be home to Barbara’s art studio on its upper level. It is from here she will continue to create the lovely watercolor paintings that already grace the living-space walls at a variety of strategic locations.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have built a couple of homes while moving from place to place in our working lives. 
Finding the right builder is critical and requires some searching,” said Richard. “There are a lot of things to consider, including timeframes for completion, referrals from customers, general reputation and so on.
“Topping our list of qualities in a builder are,” he continued, “quality of work, a willingness to listen to ideas and, most of all, trustworthiness of the individual. Gateway Builders has all of these qualities and more. Working with them has been a pleasure; we’d definitely build with them again.”
Gateway Builders has been creating exceptional homes on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia for over 12 years. They have earned an elite reputation as builders of custom homes in estate settings as well as in smaller developments, proffering equivalent levels of quality and luxury at either.
Editor's note: Furniture and design services provided by Heidi Vanderhook of FurnitureLand in Delmar, Del.

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