Cozy castle awaits visits to the ocean


Transformation: The $150,000 renovation of a modular home has created the place for which a Bethesda woman long yearned.

March 28, 2004|By Susan L. Towers | Susan L. Towers,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BETHANY BEACH, Del. - Bethesda resident Jean Holland's dream of owning a home by the ocean had been fueled by the decades she and her family had vacationed in Bethany Beach.

It was a dream she never thought would come true.

"Then, I made some money in the stock market, and my aunt left me some," recalled Holland, who retired last year after 22 years working for Talbots Inc. "My financial consultant told me to go ahead and follow my dream."

Knowing the importance of staying within a budget, Holland knew she couldn't afford an oceanfront home. But after poking around local streets and alleyways, she discovered a quaint wooded neighborhood, Tingles Addition, a couple of miles up Route 26 from the beach.

Tingles Addition, a rustic and eclectic neighborhood nestled among pine trees and along tiny canals, was just where Holland wanted to settle.

In 2000, she bought an early-1980s modular home on one of the canals for $230,000.

"It took a year to develop the plans for the renovations," she said.

But construction moved faster than the planning stage.

"There isn't a wall that hasn't been touched," said Holland, who estimated that the renovation cost about $150,000.

The result is a 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath house with a sunroom and an expansive deck that overlooks the canal. Gone are the narrow, screened-in porch, the cramped living room and the stark kitchen.

Builders expanded the living room into the area where the porch once was, removed the wall that separated the living room from the kitchen and created a great room with a vaulted ceiling. They also added windows.

The two bathrooms and the kitchen took on a European flavor, with the latest appliances, cabinetry and fixtures. The master bathroom has a walk-in, all-tile shower and designer light fixtures. In the kitchen is a Jenn-Air gas stove that includes an electric convection oven.

All wiring and plumbing was replaced. The walls were reinsulated. A sunroom was added.

"I wanted to build this as a house, not as a beach cottage," Holland said. "While I'll always keep a place in town, because that's where my children are, I am looking to move here, so I did things that I just wanted to have in my home."

She also wanted the coziness of a cottage, not the look of a tall, boxy modern house.

At times it seemed that it would have been easier to tear down the house and rebuild it, but Holland said she couldn't afford that.

She said she is pleased with her results.

To take advantage of the home's location near woods and wetlands, Holland included natural elements in the interior designs. Her fireplace is finished in African slate. Her floor is a light wood. Her kitchen cabinetry is maple, and several of her furniture pieces are handmade from the wood of old barns. Others are made of rattan, cane and bamboo. Orange and yellow tones in the fabrics of chairs and the sofa add life to the room.

"The home is absolutely beautiful," said Terry Bishop, who has owned the cottage next door since 1983.

Bishop, who lives in Langhorne, Pa., said she wanted to purchase Holland's lot in 1981. But because the real estate market was hot at the time, she missed the opportunity by a few days. "I remember clearly that the lot was for sale at $20,900," she said. "I paid $17,900 for mine because it wasn't on the canal."

Tingles Addition, on land once owned by a farmer, is adjacent to the historic Loop Canal, which was dredged in 1910 so that vacationers could travel to Bethany from Rehoboth by boat rather than by horse and carriage. Still, it took two days to get to Bethany from Baltimore, according to James D. Meehan, who wrote about the history in his book Bethany Beach Memoirs.

The marshy woodland that became Tingles Addition was first subdivided during the mid-1960s after the devastating northeaster of 1962, historians have told Holland.

"Apparently, it was completely flooded after the storm," she said. "Canals were dug by the Army Corps of Engineers to drain away the water. The lots were sold for $200 and $600 apiece."

For Holland, the wooded neighborhood is a welcome retreat, not only from beltway traffic, but also from the summertime congestion in and around the beach.

Holland placed a purple-martin birdhouse on her deck, and she said she loves to sit in the sunroom and look out on a canal busy with boats and ducks in the spring and summer.

Even during the off-season, the secluded neighborhood is in transition. Pickup trucks owned by builders, electricians and plumbers often block the narrow roads as homes are built. Lots in the neighborhood are going for $300,000 or more, said local real estate agent Beth Evans of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. One large home is on the market for $975,000.

Holland said she is surprised by the size of some of the houses that are being built.

But she also is happy to see that the number of year-round residents is growing, which will give her more to do and more people to get to know as she plans for her move to the beach.

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