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OCEAN ISLE BEACH—Inside a photogenic house called Long Isle, at 210 E. First St., there’s a “sea of blue outside every ocean-side window.”
That’s what publicist/decorator Catherine Sludds has to say about the two-story, blue-roofed vacation rental that is a finalist in Vacation House Review’s 2012 North Carolina Beach House Design Contest.
Sludds and others who had a hand in the design and decorating scheme of the home are hopeful judges will feel the same way they do when the winning house is announced next month.
Less than two weeks ago, judges traveled down to scrutinize the house a little more closely for the contest by Vacation House Review, a website that posts pictures and information about available upscale resort homes along the Southeast coast, from Maryland to Florida.
Long Isle was built in 2002 and is owned by Joanelle and Michael Long of Canton, Mich. It is rented year-round by Cooke Realty.
Last year, the six-bedroom house underwent renovation and redecorating.
Sea-blue hues dominate nearly every room and area, including shutters, decorative signs, bedspreads and outdoor furniture from the ground-level party area to the home’s upper-level decks.
“Nature’s sea bounty and sea colors are the secrets of this home’s relaxed vibe and welcoming spirit,” reads promotional material about the house.
“That’s what the whole competition is—it has to be a rental house,” said design consultant Patty Grenier, who worked closely with Joanelle Long in directing the home’s redecorating scheme.
Grenier said Long had the “bones”—certain pieces—already in place.
“We pulled it together and changed the colors and just made it hers,” she said.
Suzy King, owner of Calabash Photography Studio, was summoned to make the home “more photographically appealing.”
David Eggers, who does maintenance and handyman work for the house, painted furniture.
“[The house] was quite dark before,” Sludds said.
Grenier said it’s important to make homes like this appealing so vacationers will want to rent it every year.
In addition, “You have to make everything renter-friendly,” she said, or, as Eggers put it, “durable.”
That’s because the homes “take a lot of abuse,” Grenier said.
Vacation homes like this one, they said, tend to take a beating from the weather on the outside and from renters on the inside.
The house has been booked every week from June through September, plus extra weekends into the fall and Christmas.
“If you can rent [a vacation house] between seven to nine weeks, that’s decent,” Grenier said. “Anything above that is icing on the cake.”
Grenier first got to know homeowner Joanelle Long at Victoria’s Ragpatch in Ocean Isle Beach, where Grenier is manager.
“She came in shopping,” Grenier said. “You get to know their personality and it makes it real easy” to determine customers’ personal tastes in clothing and design, she said.
Here, she said, homes have to be livable.
“You can’t have a design showcase,” Grenier said.
For her part, homeowner Joanelle Long said she’s excited about the recognition Long Isle has received.
She said she also has enjoyed working with “the very best of the best” in redecorating and getting word out about the house.
“To be so happy with the end product, that makes all the difference in the world, especially if you’re in Michigan and can’t get down to Ocean Isle,” Long said in a long-distance phone call Tuesday.
Though Long Isle is often rented, she and her husband plan to venture down next week for a visit to their vacation house and Ocean Isle Beach.
The contest’s head judge who visited the house with a team on Sept. 9 has interests in design and architecture.
“She knows her stuff,” Grenier said.
So does Long, who loves to shop and buy interesting items for her Ocean Isle Beach home, Grenier said. For example, a plaque on an outside deck wall of the house is made of recycled flip-flops painted to look like fish.
Inside one of the home’s blue-hued bedrooms, the crew pointed out fish plaques mounted on old recycled shutters—painted blue, of course—and placed over the matching double beds covered with blue-and-green fish quilts.
Long, she said, likes to make creative use of things, like the fish placemats that are framed and decorating the wall.
On the wall of another bedroom, Anita Johnson of Goose Art designed a mural featuring painted wooden fish that match yet another fish quilt Grenier.
Johnson said Long already had the wooden fish, which Johnson wanted to include in her wall design. Johnson did the work without Long being here.
“We had never even met,” Johnson said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Grenier, Johnson and Sludds each had a hand in making the abundance of decorative pillows gracing the home’s many beds.
“It’s a very fun, whimsical house,” Johnson said.
“There’s not a room that’s unforgettable,” Grenier added.
Grenier is also hoping one of the home’s best design features will give it in an edge in the competition.
“Whenever you stand in the living room, you don’t see another home,” she said. The house is cleverly designed so you can’t see adjacent homes when you’re gazing toward the ocean through the home’s front windows, she said. It gives the illusion that “you have your own private beach,” Grenier said. “It feels like solitude.”
Laura Lewisis a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.