Coastal Comfort

Reinventing and Refining a Waterfront Property

Story by Kristen Hampshire | Photography by Jennifer Hughes

Nesting in place during the pandemic prompted the Wilner family to take the leap and buy the Delaware beach house they’d dreamed about for some time. The timing was just right, with children ages 9 and 12, and a mind to make memories with family and friends. 

“We visited Ocean View four years ago, and we fell in love with this little spot, where there is a marina, and we knew they’d be developing there,” said Genevieve Wilner, who cofounded Feather Hill Interiors with the firm’s other principal designer, Ashley Mutch. “We bookmarked it, and we did end up buying a lot.” 

The five-bedroom beach house was completed with builder-grade finishes, so Wilner and Mutch took the project as an opportunity to infuse a clean, coastal vibe into the home, giving it a livable-luxury feel, with thoughtful, high-impact upgrades, like hardware, faucets, lighting, a backsplash and shiplap. 

“When we meet with new clients, we emphasize how much lighting can transform a space,” Mutch said of making small changes that deliver significant aesthetic results. Working texture into fixtures with organic, woven elements infuses interest to the design. And finishes like draperies can make all the difference, Mutch said. “It adds that additional layer, texture and warmth to a space.” 

An Elevated & Approachable Kitchen
As with many family homes, the kitchen is a hub for cooking, dining, gathering and kids’ activities. To elevate the space, the island legs were replaced for a modern piece with a brass cap that ties in with upgraded fixtures. “We wanted to evoke a feel that was coastal but refined,” Wilner said, adding that pendant lighting and trading the white subway-tile backsplash for tile in muted cream, heather, camel and ivory adds subtle, sophisticated interest. Meanwhile, barstools with woven seats and wooden legs add warmth and texture.

“The kitchen is where family and guests gather, and at any given time, we have a whole bunch of pastries on the counter and local fruits and vegetables from one of the farm stands,” Wilner said. 

Coastal Comfort for Living Spaces 
Clean, coastal and casual comfort are the focus of main living areas, where Mutch and Wilner sourced performance fabrics that are easy to care for while focusing on a palette of white, beige and pops of black. Realistic faux greenery along with white-plaster pieces, like lamps and tables, lend a natural feel that is ideal for the home’s views of the Indian River inlet. 

The neutral tones carry throughout the main living areas, and consistency with custom linen draperies connects the spaces. 

Eclectic pieces add character, such as a hand-woven accent pillow from the mountains of Peru. “The dining table we had admired for some time,” Wilner said, remarking how the woven chairs make the space feel “more casual and relaxed,” juxtaposing a formal table base. “We finished it off with a beautiful Serena & Lily chandelier,” Mutch added. 

Sleeping In Style 
The four upstairs bedrooms afforded a place to have even more fun with this renovation project. The bunk room includes nautical sconce lighting, which is a hit with the kids. “We did go a little more over the top with the decor because it’s a kid’s space, and we wanted them to feel like they are on vacation and at the beach,” Wilner shared. 

The pineapple room, meanwhile, is playful, with a whimsical print and clean, white beds. 

As for the master, Wilner and Mutch worked within a small footprint. “We had to keep it tight, so we chose to make the impact with design,” Wilner said. “We kept it neat, with art and mirrors on the wall for decor, and brought in some features like stunning, alabaster lamps and finished it off with shiplap, for that in-the-cover feeling.”

The beach house is bustling with family, guests and neighbors — exactly what the Wilners imagined for their vacation home. And the loft is a real hit with the kids, who now have a space to play ping-pong and games. Said Wilner: “It’s been so important to spend time together here, especially after last year.” CS