Raising the Bar

A homeowner’s timely suggestion results in a Cape Cod home that takes every advantage of its stunning location.

Text by Megan Fulweiler Photography by Robert Benson Photography

The harbor dotted with sailboats bobbing at their moorings was spectacular. In fact, the site promised such postcard-pretty vistas filled with soaring seagulls and puffy clouds, no one thought about attempting to maximize it further—no one, that is, except the astute owner. The design process for his new home was well under way when he posed the idea of increasing the structure’s height. Whereas plenty of sites present challenges, here was one, explains architect Charles Orr, of Hutker Architects, that delivered ever more opportunities.

Of course, the only way to know what could really be gained by expanding upward was to have a look. So John Kruse, vice president of Sea-Dar Construction, cleverly arranged for a crane to hoist the interested parties above the treetops. Eureka! “Instead of water in just one direction, we could see water on two sides,” says Kruse, whose company has built a number of homes for this couple. To make matters even better, their change of strategy was still within Cape Cod’s height restrictions for new construction

With the happy revelation of greater cinematic scenery, the house grew to three stories, with roof decks added to the front, back, and top floors. Orr also wisely extended the foundation of the 11,000-square-foot residence by several feet to dramatize the view down into the harbor. “It sounds trivial, but it made a significant difference,” he says.

The terraces were also elevated (from the top of the fieldstone seat wall to grade is four feet) to provide pool-area security and to help blur the line between Mother Nature and the indoors. The granite platforms “make for easy, step-free circulation between the house and outdoor areas,” says landscape architect Daniel Solien of the Falmouth, Massachusetts-based firm Horiuchi Solien.

Even when the owners venture inside, window walls keep them connected to their glorious setting. Awash with natural light, the rooms fairly glow. “It’s a deep house. We made certain light would flow from one side to the other,” says Orr.

The handsome window-lined stairs were constructed without risers. And light-bouncing, smooth-grained white oak was chosen for the floors and the first-floor paneling. The last riffs on traditional paneling, but, with reveals so thin they’re almost flush to the wall, reads as modern.

From the start, the owners had insisted they didn’t want a cookie-cutter beach house. Interior designer Vivian Hedges, who, like Kruse, knows the couple well from previous projects, understood completely. The Manhattan designer, who counts clients on both coasts and around the globe, is hardly the kind to conjure up the ordinary anyway. In sync with the owners’ finely honed aesthetic, she concocted a sophisticated decor in a neutral palette that suits the clean-lined architecture and allows the surroundings to remain the focus.

The tailored furnishings are comfortable for everyday living and entertaining, but they’re also undeniably stylish. The spacious home incorporates a number of relaxing spaces, and Hedges has ensured each is as chic as the next. The den, with its graphic zebra-striped rug, is particularly seductive. Visitors are quick to imagine themselves whiling away the hours on the pillow-strewn sofa—at least until they spy the sunroom. This bright space opens to the pool on the south, while a parade of floor-to-ceiling windows to the east frames the harbor. Reading? Catnapping? A pair of welcoming divans perched side by side invite leisure.

The kitchen and living and dining rooms sit adjacent to the sunroom. And since living and dining spaces seep seamlessly into one another, there are views from every vantage point. Hedges references them in the color of the leather dining chairs—a frosted blue that speaks to misty mornings—and a Marc Phillips carpet in the living room as blue as the sky. The living room’s most striking object, however, is the sculptural coffee table. “I spotted it and loved it,” says Hedges. “The clients are adventuresome. They like trying new things.” Flanked with Holly Hunt sofas and Christian ­Liaigre Latin chairs, the cool, glass-topped table makes a notable contrast to the rugged granite fireplace.

The kitchen, where Orr has made a deft com­bination of brushed-aluminum upper cabinets with oak cabinets below, is similarly contemporary. Green-as-the-lawn glass tile interjects a splash of color for the cook, who can work and converse with family seated opposite the island in the cozy breakfast area. Nixing a more typical chandelier, the designer installed a sculptural Paul Ferrante fixture reminiscent of a gnarled branch above the hefty table. The banquette is clad in durable Tabanan Tango fabric by Pindler & Pindler.

As anyone with a nest by the water will tell you, company is a given from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. But with several guest rooms, nine bathrooms, and an elaborate guest suite that includes living and dining rooms as well as two bedrooms, crowds are encouraged at this address. In summer, there’s almost always someone sunning on the terrace or splashing in the pool. The infinity edge, Solien points out, gives swimmers uninterrupted views at the harbor-facing end.

When the owners slip away for a few private moments, it’s to a posh, Zen-like master suite. “I decorate with the idea in mind that I want the room to look as good ten years on as it does right now,” says Hedges. The wide, upholstered floating headboard, behind which is tucked the entrance to the walk-in closet, is her design. The room’s serene color scheme flows into the master bath, where the gray-blue shower tile mimics the ocean.

The homeowners claim a private deck for water-watching of their own, too. Living outdoors as much as possible, after all, is the point of owning such a cheery property and the perfect house to complement it. Come nightfall, there are media and game rooms to enjoy. But it’s a safe bet that on most evenings, everyone heads for the fireplace terrace to revel in the silvery moonlight and count the stars. •

Architecture: Charles E. Orr and Mark Hutker, Hutker Architects
Interior designer: Vivian Hedges, Vivian Hedges Interiors
Builder: Sea-Dar Construction
Landscape design: Daniel Solien, Horiuchi Solien Landscape Architects

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