Cape Cod ContemporaryText by Paula M. Bodah
The Great Outdoors
Designers and architects often talk about “bringing the outside in,” creating a house with a strong connection between the interior and the outdoors. In the case of this Chappaquiddick home, that is a serious understatement. Architect Peter Rose let the woods, wetland, and coastline of the property play the starring role. The 6,300-square-foot main house follows the undulations of the land and is organized around a central axis that looks out to Cape Poge Bay in one direction and the Atlantic Ocean in the other. To one side of the axis, the public areas occupy a single level. On the other side, a two-story wing drops down into the landscape, making a surprisingly compact package for the seven bedrooms and four baths within. In the main living space, Douglas fir ceilings and walls of fir and beech echo the outdoors. The wood, particularly where the framing is exposed, “makes the house feel more elemental, almost as if it doesn’t really have windows, doors, electricity,” Rose says. Cementing the connection with nature are the ingeniously designed glass walls crafted by Parry Windows and Doors, a Martha’s Vineyard company. The mahogany-framed glass slides completely out of view, immersing the home in the sights, sounds, and smells of the sea.
West Side Story
Like most modernist houses, says architect Jim Cappuccino, this Falmouth home is designed to respond to and blend with the landscape. And what a landscape it is, with its western panorama across Buzzards Bay. As if the view by day isn’t lovely enough, the play of light and shadow on the water come sunset is nothing short of breathtaking. The view reveals itself only slowly, though, thanks to Cappuccino’s clever design. The driveway curves through welcoming gardens created by landscape architect Kris Horiuchi, ending at the front facade with its statement-making two-story circulation core enclosed in frosted glass. The core’s downstairs hallway follows a concrete walkway between floors of walnut to the rear of the house and a glass wall that frames the view. Upstairs, a glass floor ushers light deep into the house (and elicits wows from those who see it for the first time). Out back, a sort of magic happens. “The curve reflects the coastline,” Cappuccino explains, describing the graceful arc of the red cedar overhang that sweeps along the rear of the house, sheltering the glass walls of the first-floor rooms. Horiuchi designed the terrace and infinity-edge pool to promote the sense that the house, backyard, and bay are all of a glorious piece.
The three generations of the Schiller family wanted a home where they could gather—as a clan or in their own smaller units—and have just the right amount of togetherness or privacy at any given moment of the day. As a new graduate of the Yale School of Architecture, second-generation family member Aaron Schiller joined forces with Alan Organschi and Lisa Gray of Gray Organschi Architecture. The beautiful old stone walls that crisscrossed the Chilmark property inspired the team to design something that would honor the area’s agrarian past, Gray explains. The result is a house that recalls barns of old, but is unmistakably contemporary. The exterior wears Yakisugi siding, a charred wood that imparts an instant feeling of age. The long, gabled building puts the grandparents’ bedroom and most of the public areas on the top floor. “When Mom and Dad are here alone, being upstairs is just like being in a one-bedroom house,” Gray says. The bottom floor holds three bedrooms for the next generation and a bunk room for the grandkids. Upstairs, walls, floors, and ceilings of bleached ash and simple, contemporary furniture and fixtures give the space a serene feeling. In the living room, that peacefulness is enhanced, thanks to expansive walls of glass that make the space feel like a very grown-up treehouse.
Into the Woods
Jill Neubauer describes this Falmouth house as “simple shed forms with a connector.” Of course, the architect notes, a closer look reveals the complexity behind that simplicity. Riffing on the traditional dormered Cape-style house that connects to a garage via a breezeway, Neubauer added flip-up dormers that usher southern light into the house, turned the breezeway concept into a glass-enclosed entryway, and clad the house in horizontal siding for a contemporary look. One wing juts east from the entry and holds two bedrooms, the wife’s art studio, a mudroom, and the garage, while the west wing contains the open kitchen/living/dining area and porch on the upper level and a lower-level gathering room and a space that doubles as office and guest room. Neubauer, who worked closely with landscape architect Bernice Wahler, designed the house to respect and blend with the woodsy nature of the landscape—so much so that she conceived an abstract “forest” of some sixty-five tree trunks, crafted of turned pine, beginning at the entry and continuing into and through the great room. The dining area hews to the theme with a live-edge black-walnut table (with a stunning crushed amethyst insert to fill a hole in the slab) and a chandelier created from driftwood the homeowners collected on their beach walks.
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