A Cozy Cabin at the Beach
“We try to be very gentle with what’s here,” Becky Bump speaks of the c. 1932–37 cypress log cabin she has owned since 1997 and has shared with partner, Reese Lusk, since 2009.
Blown away by the quaintness of a Virginia Beach neighborhood she hadn't even known existed, Bump soon found herself a homeowner near the end of one of the “skinny” winding streets that characterizes Chesapeake Beach.
Nestled onto the shore of Chubb Lake among live oaks, the diminutive cabin looks for all the world like it could be a stylish Hobbit House. Though not a trendy “tiny house,” the home is nonetheless small by today’s standards at only 1,600 square feet. Through a series of renovations, Bump has made the compact kitchen, cozy living room, charming dining room with its distinctive plate rail, lake room, two bedrooms—one up and one down—, a full bath and two half baths, plus an expansive deck, live large.
At the time of move-in, considerable moisture-related foundation work was necessary, along with the installation of French drains, removal of vines and some cosmetic painting. In 2002–2003, she clad most of the exterior in cedar shakes to protect the logs, extended the A-line of the roof over the downstairs master bedroom and updated both the upstairs and downstairs half baths.
When Lusk joined her in 2009, the two passionate and inspired gourmet cooks decided a kitchen reno was in order. Maintaining its L-shaped footprint and vaulted ceiling, they “moved a couple of things” to maximize function and painted an accent wall a warm coral color. They added a stacked marble backsplash, Alder wood cabinets and deluxe stainless steel appliances: a Jenn-Air dishwasher and gas stove with a sleek range hood and a GE Monogram built-in refrigerator flanked by pantries with convenient rollout drawers. Random width heart pine floors came from the walls of an 18th century home in New Bern, N.C., where Bump’s influential father was known, among other things, as a wood collector.
Original slate and cypress plank flooring throughout most of the home, a stone fireplace with a simple wooden mantle and a backdrop of exposed logs create an irresistible organic warmth. Painted concrete in the master bedroom and painted luan in the lake room proved to be more practical solutions, especially in the latter which has been known to flood in major storms.
With an approach to interior design that Bump modestly describes as “eclectic at best,” the home reflects its inhabitants’ commitment to Eastern Virginia artists and artisans, as well as their love of meaningful objects, each with a story, and many collected on their global travels (both are avid scuba divers.) “If we see it and like it, we’ll find a place for it,” Bump explains of their “we just blend” attitude.
Family antiques cozy up with a combination of both Bump’s and Lusk’s possessions for a “collected but not curated” vibe with a distinctly modern and fresh sensibility. Recovering her grandmother’s traditional chairs in two contrasting, hip and fabulously unexpected fabrics that Bump insists Lusk chose—while he insists that he merely brought home the fabric samples—is an iconic example of their style.
Is this their “forever home”? For her part, Bump, owner of Special Assignment, a marketing and PR firm, with a restless imagination says, “I can’t imagine leaving here permanently.” And Lusk, owner of Lusk Studios, specializing in decorative arts and architectural finishes, and an artist in his own right, agrees, “This would be hard to leave.” Still, he describes himself as a minimalist. “I came from a big, white box with white walls and beige furniture,” though he admits that he finds “all the textures and warmth … comforting.”
And lest this interior space seem confining or claustrophobic for two adults, a cat and a dog, Bump enthuses that the house “can live bigger than its little square feet.” It can easily host a party for 80, thanks to favorite nooks and outdoor spaces and a well-appointed deck that functions as the living room in summer.
While the home has hosted many gatherings, Bump’s philosophy regarding the couple’s stewardship of this dwelling is best illustrated in her southern luncheon for "the Sassies," a group of childhood friends and sisters, originally from Virginia Beach, who gather once a year to reminisce about the past and embrace the present. Bump learned about them—and Frank Wade (father to two of the women) who had built the cabin—from a friend. A few emails, phone calls and many construction photos later, she was soon inviting them to come visit this landmark of their childhoods over a spread that included ham biscuits and sweet tea. Living in the cabin, Bump reflects, “is very much about honoring this place.”