What a Catch!

Photo by Wendy Hilliard

Photo by Wendy Hilliard

When standing at sea level, his eyes just around six-feet from the ground, registered architect Rich Bandera knew this plot of land was special. Though he didn’t have a birds-eye-view, the lot was perfectly situated to capture one of the best perspectives on Oak Island.

“It was primarily the idea of taking advantage of the exposure to the water, and thinking about how [the owners] really want to take advantage of the height and the views that were available,” the LEED-certified designer recalls. The plan to build high on this particular lot, however, was not the original idea.

Mose and Janice Ramieh, prior to acquiring the spectacular lot on East Beach Drive, owned an older home on an adjacent property. Mose, who runs a company in Nashville that does high-voltage electrical maintenance and testing, bought the house 12 years ago as a part-time vacation dwelling. After meeting Janice four years ago, he decided to make Oak Island his year-round home.

The Ramiehs’ back porch, in the home designed by registered architect Rich Bandera, peeks into Oak Island’s protective maritime forest. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

The Ramiehs’ back porch, in the home designed by registered architect Rich Bandera, peeks into Oak Island’s protective maritime forest. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

The duo, who celebrated their two-year marriage anniversary on April 23rd, 2013, were good friends with Bandera. Janice, formerly a freelance interior designer, introduced the architect to his first North Carolina client when he moved here 11 years ago from Boston with his wife, Kimberly. When looking to renovate their first Oak Island home, the Ramiehs naturally turned to Bandera.

“Rich came up to look at it, [and considered] some internal work and taking some walls out,” Mose tells. “We talked about it and got to thinking, Well, it’s going to cost as much to knock it down and build a new one.

Thus, Bandera set to work designing a home to replace the old house on the original lot. Meanwhile, Mose made an offer on an empty property nearby. “While the lot purchase was taking place, we had really a schematic design on the other site,” Bandera explains. “But [the new] site is much more desirable.”

Its allure lies in the view. To the left, the Oak Island lighthouse and Old Baldy stretch as coastal skyscrapers along the horizon, and the Oak Island Pier jets confidently into the water. To the front, a public beach access and a plot of static vegetation lend to an uninhibited ocean vista. Visible sand bars give the sea a multi-colored charisma. To the right rests a scenic stretch of Holden Beach, and in total four water towers can be seen. Even the rear view is captivating, as rooftops peak through a net of maritime forest.

The coastal abode offers a straight-shot view of the ocean, seen best from the rooftop deck on the front of the house. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

The coastal abode offers a straight-shot view of the ocean, seen best from the rooftop deck on the front of the house. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

“We worked with Rich for probably over a year just getting the design,” Janice muses of their initial indecision. But as the opportunity of the perfect lot presented itself, neither the homeowners nor the architect could turn it down. In fact, they seized the chance to design what would become the Ramiehs’ dream home—and their old house became an extra space for friends and family to visit.

“It was quite a process,” Mose concedes. “Of course, Rich being the thorough guy that he is, we sat down and talked about what we wanted, what our lifestyle would be, and how we lived. It allowed him to understand what we wanted in the house. Once we got the final design to this house, I don’t think we made very many changes at all in what he presented to us. He gave us what we wanted, which was the bedroom view; the open, inverted floor plan; and the downstairs space which is essentially guest space and my home office.”

Even the hallway from the laundry room to the main living space provides a view through floor-length glass doors and large Andersen windows. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

Even the hallway from the laundry room to the main living space provides a view through floor-length glass doors and large Andersen windows. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

The house, which was built by David Wallace and finished in July 2012, has an elevator which Bandera capitalized upon during the design process. He was able to incorporate height so that the Ramiehs have an optimal scene out of every window.

“It’s relatively common, when an elevator is introduced into a plan, that you have the ability to put your main living space on an upper level,” Bandera explains. “Really what starts it is you try to work with the owner’s furnishing plan to develop a concept floor plan of how all those elements can take advantage of that view and [still be able to] move around that space adequately. For instance, they have a kitchen set-up that’s kind of turning its back to the view so that you can look out while you’re cooking, or a dining bay that is big enough for an eight-person table that it’s actually bumping out from the wall of the space. It’s kind of an oversize bay that takes care of that extra furnishing requirement with enough room for the main activities that happen in the living space. And then the tray ceiling unifies all this space. Although the furnishing areas are slightly separate, all of them have views to the water across and the pier. That was the primary consideration.”

Bandera utilized an inverted floor plan—putting every room that the Ramiehs use consistently on the upper level, from their master bedroom to their laundry room and kitchen—and other less vital spaces on the ground level. It not only affords breathtaking scenery but also offers a better catch of ocean breezes on the main 15-foot covered porch, along with more dramatic living spaces inside. The stairwell is tucked away as the kitchen is the center of the main floor, stretching open to the dining and living spaces.

The oversize dining bay fits a table for eight (the chandelier, which also has matching pendants above the kitchen island, is from Lowe’s). Photo by Wendy Hilliard

The oversize dining bay fits a table for eight (the chandelier, which also has matching pendants above the kitchen island, is from Lowe’s). Photo by Wendy Hilliard

“As it’s broken down, it’s a relatively larger home at 3,890 square feet,” Bandera tells, “but, that said, it’s a relatively compact floor plan. So the staircase is running sort of crosswise to the plan so that it doesn’t encroach into the views that are available. It minimizes the impact, and it’s easy to get from one space to the next.”

Before Bandera considered anything else, he says the quality of the roof was a must. The entire home utilizes materials to withstand its coastal environment.

“We used a standing-seam roof. It’s aluminum, so it’s reflective for solar gain and has better maintenance abilities,” he describes. “They used Hardie siding, and a product that, instead of having fasteners that are right through the trim material on the outside, there’s a metal flange that’s attached by the manufacturer. So when [the installer] attaches the trim, they’re fastening through the plate on the back rather than through the trim.”

This provides a more finished look because the fasteners are not seen. A small gap between boards is visible—but it’s intentional.

“Mose did not want to deal with the maintenance,” Bandera says. “The Hardie Siding manufacturer actually recommends, when you have this kind of exposure, a different way [to install] their siding. You’re not doing direct butt joints to the siding, then caulking. What they recommend is to leave a little gap. It may not be the perfect siding that you’re accustomed to seeing on a traditional lap-siding cottage, but the intent is that you leave a gap and you flash behind that joint. [Now] there’s a path for water to get out from behind the siding, so it’s not being absorbed by your sheeting. It’s a newer way that Hardie is recommending to treat the house. So those kind of things end up with less maintenance.”

The living room has a fireplace, the mantel of which is decorated with 35-year-old Oak Island driftwood, a gift to Janice Ramieh from her long-time friend and a past mayor of Oak Island, Johnie Vereen. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

The living room has a fireplace, the mantel of which is decorated with 35-year-old Oak Island driftwood, a gift to Janice Ramieh from her long-time friend and a past mayor of Oak Island, Johnie Vereen. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

The house features all Andersen windows, an upper-grade series, and they’re all protected with hurricane shutters. The deck is constructed of EverGrain composite decking. Eucalyptus flooring was engineered to amplify the natural strength of wood.

“There’s embedded color in the siding, so it has a longer warranty,” Bandera adds. “They selected that instead of having a painter come in, so it goes up already in the color they wanted.”

Overall, Bandera’s conception exemplifies the quality of work necessary for a long-standing beach home. Plus, as he boasts, “People really notice this home when they drive by.”

Aside from the beauty of the design which calls passers-by to do a double-take of the home, the bright teal roof juxtaposed against the mute gray siding draws much attention. “There’s a story behind this color,” Mose begins with a smile. “When we were in New Orleans, before we got married, we had gone to Cocadrie [an unincorporated fishing village in Louisiana]. We went fishing with her son, daughter-in-law, and their kids. We were staying in a hotel at the far end of Cocadrie, and across the little slough there was a house that had that color roof.”

“We both loved the color,” Janice points out.

“So we took a picture of it and came back here, talked to the roof guy, and said, ‘You’ve got to find that color,’” Mose recounts. “He had a darker, a lighter, a greener—but he didn’t have that color.”

“Believe me, honey, he found it,” his wife muses.

Bar seating on the island in the kitchen allows guests to be entertained while the Ramiehs cook. In the back is a wet bar which features Brazilian leather granite. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

Bar seating on the island in the kitchen allows guests to be entertained while the Ramiehs cook. In the back is a wet bar which features Brazilian leather granite. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

Moving inward, Janice—a resident since 1975 whose parents had been here since the ‘60s—unleashed her interior-design skills on the home. For the wet bars, one in the kitchen and one in the downstairs guest suite, the couple utilized Brazilian leather granite. The stone’s name comes from the texture: natural bumps create an impact yet it is not rough to the touch. “There was only one piece in North America, is what they told us,” Janice recalls.

Mose, who loves to cook alongside his wife, had input in the design of the kitchen. “We both can cook together without bumping into each other,” he says of the ample space provided. “It works out well.”

However, Janice admits that her favorite indoor spaces are the master bed and bath. “My sister started buying me mermaids years ago, and with the master bathroom, I finally had somewhere to put all my mermaids,” she reveals.

The countertop of the bath is made of crushed oyster shells and sea glass, calling to the natural enchantment of the ocean. Janice has another indulgence in the room, too.

A stunning sea-grass wreath came from The Christmas House in Southport. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

A stunning sea-grass wreath came from The Christmas House in Southport. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

“All my friends would look at Mose and say, ‘You’re going to let her put a chandelier over the bathtub?’” she touts. “And he said, ‘If she wants a chandelier over the bathtub, let her do it.’”

In the master bedroom, the focal point holds a key emotional element. “A friend of mine, Johnie Vereen, did all the mantels,” Janice describes. “He also built the entertainment center. This wood [of the mantel in the master bedroom] is from a friend ours—Jeff Ensminger, who was a council member years ago. This wood is all from Long Beach Pier. It was a special gift for me because I grew up there; my brother was one of the first lifeguards and my son was a lifeguard there. He said, ‘I’ve got a surprise for you; you’re going to love it. It’s going to mean so much.’”

As Janice looks on, it’s clear her personal piece of history is cherished. It is small details such as the mantel and the uniquely colored roof which add character to a new build.

This mantel in the master bedroom, built by Janice’s friend Johnie Vereen, uses wood from Long Beach Pier, a gift from family-friend Jeff Ensminger. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

This mantel in the master bedroom, built by Janice’s friend Johnie Vereen, uses wood from Long Beach Pier, a gift from family-friend Jeff Ensminger. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

In the main entrance, guests are greeted by a large statue of swimming turtles. Mose purchased the sculpture for Janice from San Francisco prior to the home’s completion. The Ramiehs asked their finishing carpenter to construct a special pedestal for the piece. “And then I thought I ought to have a light,” Janice tells as she flips the switch. At night, the fixture puts off a shine that glows atop the shells of the turtles, as if it were a moon beam.

A poster from Janice’s 1996 trip to Monaco, France, hangs in the powder room. Custom window treatments were provided as a wedding gift from her friend, Sharon Coppede. Near the kitchen, a sea-grass wreath beckons looks; it was purchased from The Christmas House in Southport where her sister and mother work.

Corbels in the form of mermaids face each other near the ceiling in the bottom of a stairwell. Though Janice found them at The Ivy Cottage in Wilmington about 10 years ago, they were carved in the 1900s.

Her boldest piece, though, is a floor-length, extra-wide mirror which rests along a wall in the guest suite. “I bought that mirror two years before we even designed a house,” Janice quips. “I moved it everywhere; it is so massive. Mose kept saying, ‘Where are you going to put that?’ And I said, ‘I’ll find a space.’”

A turtle sculpture from San Francisco was a gift from Mose to Janice purchased before the home was even completed; it gets its own built-in pedestal in the main entrance. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

A turtle sculpture from San Francisco was a gift from Mose to Janice purchased before the home was even completed; it gets its own built-in pedestal in the main entrance. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

Janice’s prized piece, a floor-length mirror from a secondhand store, shows a reflection of her main squeeze, Mose. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

Janice’s prized piece, a floor-length mirror from a secondhand store, shows a reflection of her main squeeze, Mose. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

The master bathroom, featuring a countertop of crushed oyster shells and sea glass, gives Janice a place to honor all her mermaid figurines. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

The master bathroom, featuring a countertop of crushed oyster shells and sea glass, gives Janice a place to honor all her mermaid figurines. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

Janice pets their dog, Callie, while playfully relaxing in the ‘chandelier tub’—so called because of the chandelier hanging directly above. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

Janice pets their dog, Callie, while playfully relaxing in the ‘chandelier tub’—so called because of the chandelier hanging directly above. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

A chandelier hanging directly above the tub casts shadows on the walls and ceiling, reminiscent of how the sunlight dances within the sea. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

A chandelier hanging directly above the tub casts shadows on the walls and ceiling, reminiscent of how the sunlight dances within the sea. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

A guest bedroom boasts custom window treatments from Janice’s long-time friend, Sharon Coppede of Charlotte, along with a clean, coastal atmosphere perfect for visitors. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

A guest bedroom boasts custom window treatments from Janice’s long-time friend, Sharon Coppede of Charlotte, along with a clean, coastal atmosphere perfect for visitors. Photo by Wendy Hilliard

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine