High and Dry: A Sea Girt Home Spared from Sandy

Spared the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, this Sea Girt home, perched high on a dune, is the perfect nest for family fun.

The kitchen was renovated to facilitate family gatherings.
Photo by Laura Moss

It was simply a matter of luck. When this Chatham couple bought their oceanfront home in Sea Girt on a whim 21 years ago, it never occurred to them that the house was strategically located high atop a dune that would someday protect it from Hurricane Sandy’s surging tide. [See our related story about raising shore homes.]

“We didn’t have a drop of water,” says the homeowner, reflecting on Sandy’s onslaught. “Nothing fell off the walls. We were very fortunate.”

A home at the Jersey Shore was never in their plans, but one trip to Sea Girt and they were hooked. “My husband kept trying to get me interested in the Shore,” says the wife, who asked that her family not be named. “I was reluctant, but when he dragged me down here, we bought the house in one week.” Good decision. The five-bedroom house turned out to be a perfect fit for the family’s evolving lifestyle.

Upon first sight, the couple was drawn to the open floor plan and expansive oceanfront patio. Yet the feel was not quite right. “The house was lovely but very wintery,” she says. “I wanted to make everything lighter and more summery.” On her own—with no formal design training but a very keen eye—she set out to do just that. She was able to purchase almost everything for the home in nearby Spring Lake. The process unfolded over several years as she added and subtracted elements and refined her vision.

“It was trial and error,” she says. Anticipating that kids and grandkids would one day wreak havoc on the place, she stayed away from anything dainty or precious, instead selecting sturdy and stain-resistant. “Everything here is child-proof,” she says.

Key to the fresh design is the color palette, a patriotic summertime mix of red, white and blue. “Being at the ocean, I always think of 4th of July and Memorial Day, so those colors popped in my head,” she says.

Without moving a single wall, the homeowners redesigned and updated the kitchen and the bathrooms. The house served as a comfortable summertime getaway until the couple retired, sold their Chatham home and began spending six months a year in Sea Girt. (True snowbirds, they winter in Florida.) The couple’s son and daughter each married, then had daughters 29 days apart. Four years later, three boys arrived, including a set of twins. It seemed that overnight, there was a new generation of Shore fans. The girls are now 14, the boys 10. “They all get along magically,” says their grandma. “They’re so happy to be here and be together.”

The couple was in Florida when Sandy hit. “We were amazed when we heard what happened to other people,” says the wife, pondering their luck. While Sea Girt’s high dunes protected most of its beachfront homes, some incurred minor damage. But this one escaped unscathed. “Our house is the highest in town,” says the wife. “We now know, every foot is critical.”

Summers continue to be a whirlwind, with visiting grandkids and boisterous family dinners. “It gets messy,” she says, “but we just pick it all up when they go home.”

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