As a Realtor, Kevin Decosta understands the age-old mantra “location, location, location.” So when he and his wife, Heather, bought their Ocean City property in 2004, they knew they had found the right spot. Just feet from the bay, the atypically shaped corner lot sits on a dead-end street near the beach and boardwalk.
“We’re so close to everything,” said Heather, 46. “The kids can bike anywhere on the island, you’re at the beach in two minutes, and we’re close to the school and sports fields.”
After razing the house that was on the lot, they built the home of their dreams, “taking advantage of the natural light and the views,” said Kevin, 48, a broker/salesperson with Berkshire Hathaway Fox & Roach Realtors in Ocean City.
And the views are spectacular — “especially the sunsets,” he added. “The only rooms that don’t have a water view are on the north side of the house.”
To take advantage of those views, they built an upside-down house, meaning that the kitchen and hangout space are on the top floor. The 2½-story, 3,300-square-foot house features 4 bedrooms, 3½ baths, a man cave, and a game room. Outside are a deck and a swimming pool.
Their cherry grandfather clock, which chimes on the hour, is not only a prized possession, but also has a memorable back story.
“We were at a Thanksgiving dinner in Howell, N.J.,” Kevin recalled. “I looked out the window and there was a giant moving truck, and a guy gets out and knocks on the door. He said he had overstock and was knocking on doors to see whether neighbors wanted to buy anything.”
Having always wanted a grandfather clock, they bought it on the spot, borrowed a truck, and drove it home. But then they were unable to get it around the bend in the staircase. “In the cold November winds, I threw it on my back and Heather pulled it in through the window,” Kevin said.
What’s most important is that the charming Ocean City home is a family gathering place for holidays and social events for daughters Shannon, 18, and Morgan, 16, and their lacrosse and field hockey teammates. They recently hosted about a dozen classmates and their families for prom pictures.
During a redecorating a few years ago, they swapped out their original Tommy Bahama décor for beachier shades of blues and white, more of a nautical décor that fits its surroundings.
But they couldn’t bear to part with the playroom’s original glow-in-dark vinyl floor, a remnant of the kids’ childhood, still in perfect shape.
The family enjoys watching sports in Kevin’s man cave, where memorabilia for their favorite teams — Yankees, Flyers, Steelers, and Sixers — rotate in the appropriate playing season. As superstitious fans, they keep each team’s decorated lamp lit until the last game of the season. (Pity the visitor who mistakenly tries to turn it off before it’s time.)
About five years ago, they installed a 40-foot fiberglass flag pole with an internal lanyard in the front yard, something Kevin always wanted. Most often, the American flag soars above the home, though they do replace it with a Betsy Ross design for the Fourth of July.
Heather and Kevin were high school sweethearts who, fittingly, met on the Ocean City boardwalk in the summer of 1990 — he was 19 and she was 17. “We dated ever since,” Heather said. They married in 1994 at St. Francis Church (now St. Damien) in Ocean City and recently celebrated their 25th anniversary.
Now that the summer season is here, the family is looking forward to getting out on the bay. Avid fans of water sports, the Decostas enjoy personal watercraft, kayaks, and paddle boards. Boat-owning friends and family often pick them up for wine-and-cheese sunset cruises on the bay.
“The water is super-deep in these lagoons, so even at low tide we can get in and out,” Kevin said.
And maybe the best part about their home is that even in summer, when Ocean City is overrun by crowds, they are just far enough off the beaten path to enjoy calm and solitude.
“In the middle of July, the only thing you would notice is more boats in the water and a few more cars on the street,” Kevin said. “You wouldn’t know you’re just several blocks from chaos.”