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Designing a Historically Motivated Home

To celebrate New England architecture’s history, the objective of CNEHH was to use historically motivated architecture to create a new home that looks as though it has stood the test of time, rooted in its site and appropriate in scale with its surroundings.

Dating back to the late 1800s, gambrel cottages have dotted the shoreline of New England and over time, as families expanded and prospered, the cottages grew and accessory buildings were added to create a larger program including boathouses, carriage houses, outbuildings, etc. To celebrate New England architecture’s history, the objective of CNEHH was to use historically motivated architecture to create a new home that looks as though it has stood the test of time, rooted in its site and appropriate in scale with its surroundings.

 

Scale

As we designed the property, our full attention was given to recreating the “implied history” and hierarchical scale for newly constructed structures. The main house established the dominant element, the carriage house wing served as the secondary element, and the cabana as the third element. Hidden from view while facing the front façade, the carriage house is connected to the main home by a breezeway which implies that the two buildings were once independent from each other. The gambrel architecture was a natural choice along the coastline, partly due to the 26’ height restriction but also allows the maximum square footage on the second floor while maintaining a lower building height thus reducing the potential over massing in scale.

 

Designing the Exterior

The past is echoed through the use of traditional materials including weathered cedar shingles, stone veneered foundations and chimneys, and New England bluestone terraces and fieldstone walls. Equally as significant are the additions of a widow’s walk and oversailing eaves despite the advancements in technology. Both architectural elements were previously considered a fundamental element in New England architecture along the coast; widow’s walks were installed to provide a sea captain’s wife with an elevated lookout to watch for the return of her husband and oversailing eaves were crucial during foul weather prior to the invention of gutters. Today, they serve to aesthetically enhance the architectural language and to pay tribute to celebrate the past. Similarly, despite the significant advancements in energy efficiency over the past few decades, the windows are historically accurate with muntins separating the double panes, adorned with a traditional framework of mullions, and thick historic sills.

 

Designing the Interior

Upon entering the home, the uninterrupted view of the ocean and circulation pattern sets the tone for the house to unfold. The home’s structure is balanced to allow the delineated primary spaces to unfold off of the spines of continuous enfilades, resulting in rooms that flow smoothly, one to the other. The ceiling’s cased beams throughout the home are aligned with the direction of the spines to guide one’s attention throughout the continuous spaces and create a calm sense of flow.

The interior finishes recall the grand shingle style homes of the turn of the last century, yet live in a more casual way as people wish to celebrate island life today. This is evidenced particularly by the extensive use of full height millwork paneling and antique oak reclaimed flooring and paneling. Architectural elements – beadboard, traditional paneling, strongly cased door frames, and wide cased wooden beams – were used to introduce human scale. All of the elements of a formal historic home are present however they are dressed down to convey a quiet sense of luxury with an effortless and natural sophistication.

 

The Outdoor Living Spaces

Summertime brings two of life’s sweetest pleasures—spending time with friends and family. Not having to choose between the two is a luxury. The homeowner’s, a couple with three grown children, wanted multiple outdoor living spaces to entertain guests, so they can host their friends on one side of the house while their children can host their friends on the other side. There are a total of four outdoor spaces on the first floor allowing groups of all sizes to have unique and separate experiences, all while enjoying the same beautiful ocean views. The spaces include a porch attached to a party room and a pool cabana, both outfitted with a fireplace, as well as another intimate covered porch and an enclosed porch for inclement weather.

This classic home has been carefully crafted in an intimate scale for all to enjoy both by land and by sea and will remain timeless to serve as an heirloom for many generations to follow.

 

Images

The Arrival Sequence

As one approaches the property along a cobblestone ribbon driveway, anticipation from the prolonged arrival sequence intensifies as the house reveals itself from behind the carriage house. The driveway culminates to a large cobblestone entry court, symmetrically aligned with the front facade and portico, creating a formal and unforgettable sense of arrival.

The past is echoed through the use of traditional materials including weathered cedar shingles, stone veneered foundations and chimneys, and New England bluestone terraces and fieldstone walls. The meticulously manicured plantings blend natural and controlled influences to provide a seamless indoor-outdoor transition.
The Hierarchy of Scale

As we designed the property, our full attention was given to recreating the “implied history” and hierarchical scale for newly constructed structures. The main house established the dominant element, the carriage house wing served as the secondary element, and the cabana as the third element. 

Hidden from view while facing the front façade, the carriage house is connected to the main home by a breezeway which implies that the two buildings were once independent from each other.

The Historic Architectural Features

Widow’s walks and oversailing eaves were previously considered a fundamental element in New England architecture along the coast.

  • Widow’s walks were installed to provide a sea captain’s wife with an elevated lookout to watch for the return of her husband. 
  • Oversailing eaves were crucial during foul weather prior to the invention of gutters.
Today, they serve to aesthetically enhance the architectural language and to pay tribute to celebrate the past.
The Four Outdoor Living Spaces


Extending the limits of the interior are four outdoor living spaces zoned for multiple types of entertaining. Every space fosters a unique and separate experience from the others, all while enjoying the same beautiful ocean views.

  1. On the North side of the house is a covered porch, with an outdoor fireplace, connected to a party room perfect for hosting larger dinner and cocktail parties.
  2. The central covered porch offers a more relaxing, quiet setting with rocking chairs perfect for smaller groups or summer reading.
  3. Adjacent, there is a screened-in porch providing the opportunity to enjoy the outside during inclement weather. 
  4. On the Southern side of the house and you will find the grown children entertaining their friends in the larger pool area. 
The Party Room & Outdoor Porch

The disappearing Nano doors between the porch and the party room create an open flow of space from indoor to outdoor ideal for entertaining. We incorporated a lot of windows in the party room to make it feel like it was a porch that became enclosed over time, while the open air porch is truly open air. Well-designed outdoor spaces are viewed as an extension of the home so brick and beadboard run from the covered porch into the party room to create a seamless transition.

The Outdoor Porch

The covered porch proceeds to step down onto an intimate bluestone terrace area, in lieu of grass, creating a three tiered series of spaces to entertain within one significant outdoor living area.

The Enclosed Porch

The screened-in porch provides the opportunity to enjoy the outside during inclement weather or to take a break from the heat in the shade.
The Pool Area & Cabana

Guests can spend all day outside with the amenities this area offers including the pool, hot tub, outdoor grille, dining area, and a pool cabana featuring an indoor fireplace. The pool area is positioned to align with the sun placement. Bluestone is carried from the pool terrace into the pool cabana to create another indoor/outdoor experience.
The Pool Area

The pool area was strategically tucked away to create an intimate experience separate from other possible co-existing forms of entertaining and to preserve privacy from passing boat traffic in Edgartown Harbor; however, the area maintains beautiful ocean views and aligns perfectly with the sun.

The pool terrace is easily accessible from the entrance courtyard, eliminating the need to travel through the main home.
The Entry Hall

The entry hallway with wide plank hardwood flooring guides one from the front door through the entry and into the great room.
The Entry Hall to the Great Room

Upon entering the home, the uninterrupted view of the ocean and circulation pattern sets the tone for the house to unfold. The home’s structure is balanced to allow the delineated primary spaces to unfold off of the spines of continuous enfilades, resulting in rooms that flow smoothly, one to the other.

The ceiling’s cased beams throughout the home are aligned with the direction of the spines to guide one’s attention throughout the continuous spaces and create a calm sense of flow.
The Great Room

The interior finishes recall the grand shingle style homes of the turn of the last century, yet live in a more casual way as people wish to celebrate island life today. This is evidenced particularly by the extensive use of full height millwork paneling and antique oak reclaimed flooring and paneling. Architectural elements – beadboard, traditional paneling, strongly cased door frames, and wide cased wooden beams - were used to introduce human scale.

The Kitchen & Dining Area

The water-facing façade of the home is bathed in unobscured daylight, which is made possible by fully glazed walls offering breathtaking views to the water. As the sun sets, chandeliers and pendants provide intimate and warm light, while grounding the primary gathering spaces.

The Kitchen

The stove is centered on the back wall with openings on either side. The left door leads to the morning room (shown in the next image). Additionally, the kitchen aligns with the pool area to provide convenient access while serving the outdoor dining area.  The homeowners are able to rest easy knowing they can watch their children in the pool without being interrupted preparing food.
The Morning Room

The morning room includes a breakfast banquette perfect for the homeowners to enjoy their morning coffee and paper. The space is intimately scaled because it is more common to enjoy an informal breakfast alone or with a companion rather than with the family during dinner. 


The Library

The library is paneled with reclaimed antique oak wood that has been distressed and waxed to offer a refined, masculine look. The cased oak beams follow the direction of the spine and in doing so, help guide one’s attention through the long continuous space to the end of the hall and arrive at the hanging artwork.
The Library

All of the elements of a formal historic home are present however they are dressed down to convey a quiet sense of luxury with an effortless and natural sophistication.

 

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