Seaside Sophistication

Customizing a West OC townhome resulted in a personalized residence that speaks to a family’s lifestyle and how they embrace their second home

Written by Kristen Hampshire  |  Photography by Krista Valliant

Casual elegance — soft yet sophisticated, relaxed yet refined — is the aesthetic at the Karaberis home in West Ocean City, where canal and ocean views offer an ever-changing, breathtaking backdrop. Michelle and Will purchased a three-bedroom, four-bathroom townhouse that was fully finished, and they wanted to make their own mark on the residence. 

“We wanted it to be different, and it’s very visually open because of the floor plan,” Michelle says. “We didn’t want anything in the home to take away from the outdoor space. We see the ocean, the inlet, the Ferris wheel — it’s stunning.” 

They partnered with Ethan Allen interior designer Susan Alessi, based in Talsand, MD, and began making custom selections for their second home amid the pandemic, which prompted delivery delays and resulted in a two-year process of fully completing the design. 

From fixtures to window treatments, furniture to textiles and accessories, not a square foot of the home was overlooked. While the couple aimed for a minimalist vibe, the attention to detail is unmistakable. Every piece was intentionally selected and most customized to suit the Karaberises’ lifestyle and taste. 

“We went room by room and did the whole house together,” Michelle says of the importance of creating a cohesive, flowing result. Here’s how they accomplished it.

A Soothing Color Palette 
The Karaberis home is awash in grays and creams, with some blue accents. Glass accents and furniture in some spaces allow the eye to travel without interruption, which is the case with the dining table, side and coffee tables, and some shelving. Patterned drapery adds texture and interest, and luxurious fabrics in varying shades of gray are inviting and lend warmth. For instance, bedding of Belgium velvet in the guest room includes crushed velvet pillows. Furniture is finished in shagreen, a type of untanned shark rawhide. Bringing in a wide range of textures adds depth to a relatively monochromatic color palette. 

A Focus on Fixtures 
Eye-popping light fixtures throughout the home truly personalize each room and make a statement. Case in point: a stainless-steel starburst chandelier in the dining room can be seen from the exterior. “When you are at the back of the house, looking up, it’s one of the focal points you see when the light is on — a big ball of spikes,” Michelle relates. Drum pendants in cream with silver crisscross detail hang over the kitchen island. In seating areas, matching table and floor lamps offer symmetry and balance. 

Built to Live In 
The Karaberises’ home is beyond beach house and more than a vacation home. It’s a second residence the family enjoys as often as possible. Especially during the pandemic, while their son was homeschooling online, the family could simply live in the space to determine how they wanted to furnish and finish it. It’s designed to accommodate entertaining — and that includes their son’s friends, for sleepovers and gaming. 

In the “play area” family room, the space is outfitted with cozy leather couches in dark gray (forgiving for spills); two sofa beds offer places for guests. Game systems are stowed in a console. A separate seating cluster in this room features two side chairs in a gray-suede hide. It opens up to the pool. “So, it’s great, because when you get out of the pool, you’re walking right into that gathering space,” Michelle says.

The kitchen is set for cooking and gathering. “I like to entertain, and when my son and husband are not in the kitchen, the open space allows us to be together; it’s a homey feel,” Michelle says. 

Wired for Fun 
Will Karaberis retrofitted the residence into a smart house that’s truly “plug and play,” with a Control4 home-automation system. Everything from TVs to the alarm system, doorbell, light switches and speakers and beyond can be controlled from a smartphone. It includes state-of-the-art camera systems. 

“I’m a big music guy, so when I wake up and turn on the music, I can incorporate that into the entire house,” he says. Every floor includes 14 speakers inside and out. “You can take the remote controls from the XBox to any TV and use it,” he says. “If you want to listen to a sports game while you are cooking and moving around on the first floor, you can have the game play in every room on that floor.” 

While the couple was waiting for furnishings to arrive, Will got to work on the smart system, which was an extensive process of ripping into some ceilings and drilling to place wiring. Because he owns a restoration company, he enlisted in an electrician colleague, and they completed the project. The entire system is connected to a VPN. “So, there is pretty much no way anyone can hack into it,” he says. 

Home automation is especially convenient because of the Karaberises’ frequent travel and because their West Ocean City residence is not a primary home. Will says, “The doorbells ring directly to our cellphones, and no matter where we are in the world, we can accept packages, open the garage, you name it.”

Partnering With a Designer 
Enlisting in an interior designer to assist with selections and guide the process was essential, Michelle says. “Having the right designer is everything — someone who can take your vision, understand it and know what pieces would work for you. Someone who gets your style.”

Michelle’s advice: If necessary, wait to invest in the look you truly desire. “Trust the process, and never settle for things you don’t really want.” CS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.