A couple with property on a cove overlooking the ocean asked for a house that would be comfortable for just the two of them the majority of the time. However, with their love of entertaining, the house had to grow on busy weekends to accommodate their children, grandchildren, and guests. To instill the desired sense of comfort and peace, it was also important that the design blend with the pastoral setting and vernacular building traditions: predominantly shingle style homes and barns that are often built and added to over time. Historic precedent studies revealed that referencing New England connected farms in an innovative way could achieve both goals.
Connected farms aggregated over time, interconnecting multiple buildings with distinct uses. The architectural style of the house was applied to subsequent buildings to unify the assembly, but partitions within provided the necessary separation between uses: house to kitchen, kitchen to shop, and shop to barn for instance. One volume was often offset or rotated from the next to provide greater access to light, air, and privacy from the other functions. Following that example, the program of this house is divided into owners’ bedroom and office, eat-in kitchen and family room, formal living and dining, and guest rooms. The spaces are arranged around a courtyard to create visual and physical connections between them but those connections can be broken by large sliding doors. Each structure has an independent mechanical system allowing it to be shut down when unoccupied. This allows the livability of the house to expand and contract whether the couple is alone, hosting dinner guests, or has a full house of overnight guests.
As with connected farms, a limited palette of materials and details unifies the various spaces and responds to the local climate. The cedar shingles common to local buildings are scaled up to the size of boards to cover the roof and sidewalls. Cedar screens provide privacy and filter light. A marble plinth filled with sand elevates the house above the floodplain while also creating drywells to accept storm water runoff. Oak floors and millwork throughout unify the spaces.
The design repurposes the historic typology of the connected farm to suit the very timely needs of the site and the family. By acknowledging the area’s history and tradition of building, this home is an evolution of its cultural expression.