A Showstopping Waterfront Home in Brielle

The sprawling, newly built space seamlessly blends coastal character with Southern charm.

Expansive windows allow unobstructed views of the Manasquan River. Photo by Laura Moss

It started, charmingly enough, with their wedding in Charleston, South Carolina. The young couple (who asked not to be named) wanted their first home to reflect the Southern hospitality they had experienced during their nuptials. She, from the Jersey Shore, and he, from the Midwest, decided to put down roots in Monmouth County, near where the bride grew up. They discovered a prime piece of riverfront property in Brielle, situated on the Manasquan River. Unfortunately, the house itself was a rundown 1970s Cape—not exactly what they had envisioned as their first home. Undeterred, the couple tore down the existing home and assembled a dream team to make their lofty ideas a reality with an entirely new structure.

The result is a sprawling, 6,500-square-foot home with water views from virtually every room. The assembled design team, all hyper-local, included Sea Girt-based architect Christopher Rice, of Rice and Brown Architects; builder Richard F. Hall, of Richard F. Hall Custom Homes in Brielle; and interior designer Tracy Pearce, of Tracy Pearce Interior Design in Point Pleasant Beach.  

The project had two major goals. “The couple wanted their home to be reminiscent of Southern charm,” says Pearce. “And they wanted it to meet with the coastal elements along the Shore.” 

Living room decor is purposefully kept minimal, so the focus remains on the outside views. Photo by Laura Moss

The exterior of the new home is a mix of Nantucket-shingle style and Southern, low-country architecture with rustic brick. “It doesn’t look brand new on purpose,” says Hall. Hidden from view on a dead-end street, the home has a meandering paver driveway leading to a detached garage (housing a home gym), and a welcoming front porch, complete with a porch swing.

Inside, nothing detracts from the sweeping water views; colors are neutral, and only natural materials were used. “The couple wanted it to be minimalist,” says designer Nicole Kirsch, who works with Pearce. “We went room by room and kept it very organic.”  

The wide entry foyer is simple by design. “The eye goes straight through to the outside,” says Pearce. The trayed ceiling is stained oak. Floors throughout are wide-plank, engineered European white oak, stained with a satin finish. Accents of brick add “Charleston charm,” says Hall.

Central to the main floor is a wall crafted from the same rustic brick used on the exterior; it divides the living room from the kitchen and dining area. The living room side features a fireplace, while the dining side provides support for the banquette, which cozies up to a generous farmhouse table. “There’s no formal dining room,” says Pearce. “They wanted to entertain in their kitchen.”

The dine-in kitchen features two spacious islands and a unique combination of brick and tile. The corner pizza oven is often in use. Photo by Laura Moss

The kitchen is the hub of the home. “They came to us with a tear sheet of a kitchen they loved, and we replicated it,” says Kirsch. Two islands provide ample work and dining space. The island nearer the range is butcher block, with a bar prep sink. The main island, topped with white quartz, is where friends and family gather and dine. Cabinets are a warm blue, echoing the water; the backsplash is white subway tile. Three copper pendants provide task lighting over the prep island. “They’re decorative and task oriented,” says Kirsch.

A pizza oven, built from more of that rustic brick, works overtime. “It’s one of their favorite meals,” says Pearce. “The butcher block counter is perfect for rolling out pizza dough.” 

Off the kitchen, a spacious mudroom has cubbies for jackets and sandy shoes; a walk-in dog bath, perfect for a rinse after wading in the river, sees frequent use. The concrete-tile floor, laid on the diagonal, has radiant heat.

The deck boasts a dining area and outdoor kitchen, as well as a comfy seating area complete with a fireplace and outdoor television. Photo by Laura Moss

The home’s outdoor spaces also shine. An expansive covered porch overlooking the water is a three-season favorite. The transition from indoors to outdoors is seamless. One side of the porch is dedicated to an outdoor kitchen and dining area. The opposite side is an outdoor living room, complete with a fireplace for chilly evenings. Comfy teak furnishings encourage lingering.

In the midst of the 18-month project, the couple learned they were expecting; one bedroom quickly became a nursery. “We selected performance fabrics for everything,” says Kirsch, “and there are no sharp edges anywhere.” 

The couple is now celebrating their third summer in their dream-team home. “This is their forever home,” says Kirsch.

[RELATED: In Avon, Empty Nesters Revel in Ocean Views]

RESOURCES: Architect: Christopher Rice, AIA, Rice and Brown Architects, Sea Girt; 732-449-9055. Builder: Richard F. Hall, Richard F. Hall Custom Homes, Brielle; 732-223-1211. Interior design: Tracy Pearce and Nicole Kirsch, Tracy Pearce Interior Design, Point Pleasant Beach; 732-202-5588. Kitchen: New Horizon Custom Interiors, Farmingdale; 732-938-6930. Flowers and plants: Petal Street Flower Company, Point Pleasant; 732-295-0600.

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