Renovation of Ocean City, N.J., home enhances beachside entertaining

As kids, Tom and Nancy Londres grew up vacationing in Ocean City with their families. They shared their love of the beach town with their own four children, enjoying vacations in a duplex on the south end of town. As the kids got older, the family wanted more of a permanent home than a vacation spot, so in October 2018, they bought and renovated a house on the beach in the town’s north end.

“The name of the house is Panacea, as in a cure for all ills,” said Tom, owner of Metro Commercial Real Estate in Mount Laurel and Plymouth Meeting. “The house name and the house style and architecture were inspired and borrowed from my late uncle’s house in Nantucket. He has since passed, but memories live on here now.”

The couple gutted the house, relocating two load-bearing walls to allow for an open floor plan. They created five bedrooms and 4½ bathrooms in just under 3,000 square feet of space. The first floor boasts 9½-foot ceilings and lots of windows. Wraparound decks on the second and third floors and a first-floor porch offer stunning ocean views.

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With the help of Andrew Bechtold at George Wray Thomas Architecture and Engineering of Somers Point, builder Giancarlo Granese of Ocean City and designer Allison Valtri of Avalon, they created a modern coastal design that marries the natural elements outside with the home’s interior.

“We were overpowered by the magnificence of the view and wanted to celebrate what’s outside and bring it inside,” said Valtri, president of Allison Valtri Interiors, who focused on organic materials, including linen and cotton fabrics and a pine floor. “Every texture and color that you feel in the house is something that is being pulled from what you see in the indigenous landscaping.”

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Unlike the Shore homes with an upside-down build, where the kitchen and common spaces are on the top floor to offer beach views, the Londreses preferred a more traditional style, with a ground-floor kitchen and den.

“We love the coziness of being tucked into the dunes,” Nancy said. “We’re surrounded by nature, the birds are chirping, and we hear the sounds of the ocean.”

The family, including twins Erin and Riley, 28; Katie, 24; Tommy, 21, and two dogs and a cat, love to entertain. Their floor plan includes several seating areas where friends and family can gather. The home’s hub is the kitchen, which has a large island and plenty of space for mingling while cooking.

White cabinets with glass-paneled doors show off blue-and-white china plates, part of the Santorini Collection made by Vietri. The grouping, inspired by travels to the Greek Isles, is styled as if they are gathered as you travel, rather than bought as a matching set.

One kitchen wall features two small oil paintings of Ocean City beach landscapes by Philadelphia artist Giovanni Casadei. The beach, dunes, surfers, sunbathers and remnants of a broken down fishing pier featured in the artwork spoke to them.

The kitchen is often bustling with regular guests.

“We wind up renting a bunch of houses in the neighborhood and do all of our dinners together, game night and movies together, and walk up to the boards,” aka the boardwalk, Nancy said. “We’ll take turns and do my side of the family one week and Tom’s side of the family the other week.”

During the renovation, the couple replaced vertical cedar panels on the home’s exterior with white cedar shake and installed unfinished copper for some of the roofing and gutters.

“Everything will weather,” Tom said. “Some people don’t like that because it doesn’t weather evenly, but what we love about it is that it’s constantly changing. The house is getting grayer or darker or the copper’s getting greener. As it ages, it actually gets better.”

While family members have always enjoyed Ocean City, they have discovered a true sense of belonging in their new neighborhood.

“We have fallen in love with the north end, especially the people,” Nancy said. “There are multigenerational houses that have been passed down in families since the 1930s. They know each other, care for each other, and are very welcoming.”

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The couple have lived at the beach full time since May during renovations on their house in Moorestown. Their plan is to split their time between the two homes.

“We are looking forward to the quieter and cooler days when you can open your windows and hear the ocean,” Nancy said.

Said Tom: “There are less people, and the weather gets better.”

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