Tour a Whimsically Unique New Jersey Beach House That’s as Cozy as It Is Colorful

When Hurricane Sandy damaged their longtime beach house on the barrier island of Mantoloking, New Jersey, one family did everything they could to reconstruct it. The residence—a sprawling wood-clad cottage built right on the sand of a wide beach, was known as the Hepburn House, thanks to the fact that the legendary actress stayed there multiple times during the 1980s. But years of construction delays, caused by regulations and insurance issues, got to be too much. In late 2018, six years after Sandy, the family finally decided to purchase a relatively new structure just a short walk down the same beach. They then called Manhattan designer Wesley Moon and asked for the same type of comfortable yet unique summery interiors that had helped make the lost property feel like such a special place. The only catch? They wanted it to come together as fast as possible.

“The couple have four adult children, and those children, in turn, began having children, so the philosophy was ‘we just want to be at the beach with our grandkids; let’s not keep wasting precious time,’” says Moon, who was given roughly six months to decorate the 6,500-square-foot, seven-bedroom property. “Luckily, I knew the clients well enough and there wasn’t a lot of back-and-forth, which meant we were able to get things ordered quickly.”

These shelves in the kitchen island show part of the homeowners’ beloved collection of majolica ceramics. A blue-, green-, and sienna-hued teapot shaped like a fish, seen here on the bottom left corner, served as inspiration for the color palette of the entire house. The stools, found on 1stdibs, are bistro chairs from the 1920s. 

If The Little Mermaid had a powder room, it would probably look like this. “I did heavily go with a motif here,” says Moon, laughing. “It was so much fun to let my hair down.” Pierre Frey’s Fond Marin wallpaper and a Shayne Greco Octopus sink help set the underwater scene.

During one of their initial talks, Moon asked his clients if they had saved anything of sentimental value from the previous house. The wife immediately mentioned her collection of majolica ceramics, including a fish-shaped teapot in varying shades of blue, green, and yellow. “It’s one of my favorite pieces,” she says. “I have a large collection that I’ve bought over the years at auctions and antique shops. I just love their vibrant colors, I’m not a white-and-beige kind of person.”

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Using the teapot as inspiration, the designer came up with a whimsical atmosphere bathed in teal, chartreuse, and sky blue, with touches of pink and coral. Subtle and not-so-subtle references to the ocean and the underwater world were also added throughout the home. In the spacious and sun-flooded living room, for example, he hung a circular iron chandelier covered in oyster shells. In the entrance, he placed a bright yellow console adorned with resin barnacles next to an almost life-size sculpture of a palm tree. “My work comes from the gut, and I went with this idea to design a sort of caricature of a beach house,” says Moon. “It’s a little bit over the top, yet it has a casual feeling to it.”

Indeed, there is something both extravagant and cozy about the space. The boldness of the colors and motifs is toned down by rustic materials like wicker, sisal, and bamboo. “One of the first things I told Wesley is I don’t want the house to look like everybody else’s,” says the client. “But I also wanted an inviting, family-friendly [home]…he did a beautiful job.”

This room’s sunshiny walls were painted in Benjamin Moore’s Olive Tree. Pops of blue and pink are seen in the slipper chair from Donghia, upholstered in a fuchsia Bursa fabric by Kathryn Ferran. The drapes were made with Katie Ridder’s blue Peony linen.

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