More than anything, Kevin and Beth Field's sprawling Strathmere beach house — on the site of the old Bayview Motel — is about family. Warm, comfortable and inviting, it's the meeting place for their children; Kevin's father, Andy, and lots of friends and relatives.
"We're excited for the memories we will make here and the time the kids get to spend with their grandparents," Beth said.
The bayside site had been a vacation spot for many years before the Fields arrived. The motel was built in the 1950s and offered basic rooms to Shore visitors. Andy bought the property in 1995, thinking his in-laws would continue to run it. When his mother-in-law became ill, that plan didn't pan out, so the Fields kept the compound as a family retreat. Andy reworked the main, two-story building's four apartments and administrative area into a kitchen, family room and living quarters and divided single-bedroom kitchenettes in a second building into apartments.
Then, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy all but destroyed the motel, which already was in disrepair. In stepped Kevin, an architect with Nicholl Field Design in Oceanport, N.J., who also works at Barton Supply in Cherry Hill, his family's plumbing business. He created a modern home that honored the old motel.
"One of my fondest memories was the courtyard in the middle, so every Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, we'd have a potluck dinner, and all the family would get together," recalled Kevin, 36, of Moorestown. "So having a space where different family members could be in their private areas and then come together in a group area was important."
Now, the family — which includes Kevin and Beth's daughter Gray, 4, and sons Cooper, 2, and Drew, 9 months — gathers on the screened-in back porch or around the fire pit out back.
"We typically go out to the fire pit when the sun goes down for s'mores and roasted marshmallows with the kids, and the adults use it as a place to wind down when the kids are in bed," Kevin said. "It doesn't get much better than sitting bay front with family and friends on a summer night with warm weather, a light breeze, a sky full of stars, and a small fire going."
The 2,700-square-foot house, finished in 2016, takes advantage of expansive bay views, which are available from every room.
The house has an open floor plan. The kitchen, dining room and living areas flow together, all white with navy blue accents. Nautical features include large brass lighting fixtures. Five bedrooms carry the white-and-navy theme, and four bathrooms have a modern decor. A cabinet in the living room showcases old photos and artifacts from the motel.
"It's a really relaxing, comfortable beach vibe," said Beth, 38.
The dining room was key to the design, Beth said. "It's the sentimental feeling of family gathering. Our top priority was how we could get the biggest table in this space." They've managed to squeeze in 16 people, often to celebrate holidays.
One of Kevin's favorite spots is the staircase, surrounded by a shiplap wall. "It's got the double height space and is always filled with natural light," he said. "I always enjoy walking up there. You'd never think walking up a stair would bring you pleasure."
Outside, the front yard features a sand dune with natural vegetation to cover the large septic system. In the back, beyond the deck, a stone-covered yard leading to the dock is fenced in, an important safety feature for the children. The family enjoys spending time on the water, in their Boston Whaler, on tubes, boogie boards, and especially the stunning wooden kayaks that Andy builds.
"I had a fiberglass kayak, but building a wooden kayak was always something I wanted to do as a winter project," recalled Andy, who built his first boat 20 years ago.
He shares that passion with students from UrbanPromise, a nonprofit serving Camden's children. "Building the boats is secondary, it's really about the positive interaction and mentoring the students," he said.
The home is LEED Gold certified, meaning that it's energy-efficient and was built in a sustainable manner.
Beth and Kevin both graduated from Moorestown High School — Beth in 1998, Kevin in 2000. "I remember Kevin as little towheaded T-ball player," Beth recalled. "That's how far back we go."
They reconnected after college and married in 2010, the same year Kevin's mother, Nancy, died. Beth, who is taking a break from teaching to raise her kids, loves family time at the Shore.
A typical day starts very early — often at sunrise. After a walk, "Pop [Andy] and Gray fix breakfast together, serving everyone pancakes," Beth said. "Then we head to the beach all morning until it's time for naps." Afternoons are spent at the bay.
"One of the best things about this property is that we're on the bay, and the beach is two blocks up the street," Kevin said.