Thanks to Ralph Bassett and Matt McNally, what started out as a leaky, old one-bedroom bungalow in Rehoboth blossomed into this bright and sunny seaside getaway
Philadelphia finance executive Ralph Bassett used to come to the Eastern Shore in the summers of his youth as part of an annual family ritual. His future partner, advertising exec Matt McNally, spent summers in Dewey Beach during his time at the University of Delaware. Eventually, the two discovered Rehoboth Beach and resolved, as so many others have, that it would one day be home.
They acquired the bungalow-style beach house on Cookman Street for two reasons: its proximity to the beach and Rehoboth Avenue, and for the sense of history that emanated from its walls. It was originally constructed in the 1940s or ’50s, Ralph believes, as a one-bedroom structure that was added onto over the years. Though they knew they would revel in the home’s rich history, Ralph and Matt knew equally well that they would divest themselves of its liabilities.
“The roof leaked; the foundation was poor; the floors were built on different levels; and there were multiple heating systems in use,” Ralph shared. “So there was a lot to do.”
Essentially, Bassett and McNally razed the 1,600 sq. ft. building to its studs and built it back up on the same footprint, with the same square footage — though by no means the same cubic footage. The new ceilings were a whopping five feet higher, and whereas the original structure had one bedroom, its successor boasted four, with the three bathrooms to support them. Two banks of luxurious yet utilitarian sliding French doors were installed on the north and east sides, with many more Andersen windows on every side, flooding the environment with even more light.
“Architect Bill Feeney and Allen Walker of Cottages of Rehoboth did a truly remarkable job in creating this beach cottage,” said Bassett of the five-month project. “In fact, Matt and I are so utterly thrilled with the outcome that we now consider this to be our primary residence, as we spend more time here than anywhere else.”
Brandishing the cedar-shake exterior that is de rigueur for any proper Eastern Shore beach cottage, the interior features a cedar-shake wall in the entranceway, which functions as an earthy prelude to what Bassett describes as the “modern coastal décor” that lies within. Bright, beachy hues with clean lines elegantly complement the J. Conn Scott furnishings and the artwork, which is almost entirely by local artists. In its totality, this sunny ocean-side Shangri-la acts as the perfect summer tableau for the cookouts, happy hours and general entertaining that Ralph and Matt love to host for friends and family.