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Shore Bets on the Massachusetts Coast

Polhemus Savery DaSilva

We’ve taken a shine to these glittering coastal gems....

Here in the Boston area we’re lucky to have our pick of beach options all within a short ride (Traffic? What traffic?). The rocky coasts of the North Shore, New Hampshire and Maine beckon from the north; Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket summon us southeast; Newport and Rhode Island call from the southwest; and Long Island and the Hamptons tempt us to venture further southwest. You get the drift…. This wealth of sandy shoreline brings plenty of beach days, of course, as well as some spectacular dwellings by the sea. We think you’ll agree….

(Main Image: Architecture by Polhemus Savery DaSilva; photo by Brian Vanden Brink)

Cape Cod & The Islands

Patrick Ahearn Architect
Architecture by Patrick Ahearn Architect; photo by Greg Premru Photography

Patrick Ahearn Architect is a master at creating historically motivated beachside luxury homes with programs that celebrate today’s finer points of living. For this Coastal New England Harbor House on Martha’s Vineyard, he channeled the Gambrel styles that have graced the area’s shores since the 1800s, and employed traditional materials—weathered cedar shingles, stone veneered foundations and chimneys, bluestone terraces—yet updated the estate’s features and amenities to give the homeowners and their three grown children the ultimate in island living.

Patrick Ahearn Architect
Architecture by Patrick Ahearn Architect; photo by Greg Premru Photography

The exterior of this Edgartown charmer is shrouded in “an implied history,” explains the firm, achieved by the inclusion of time-tested design elements like a widow’s walk and oversailing eaves, and historically accurate architectural details, such as broad sills on the windows and muntins separating its double panes. An elongated ribbon driveway builds anticipation on the approach before spilling into a cobblestone entry court at the door of the main home, a substantive signal that you’re on island time.

Patrick Ahearn Architect
Architecture by Patrick Ahearn Architect; photo by Greg Premru Photography

The coastal compound, which includes the main house, carriage house wing and cabana, was crafted to accommodate the family and friends of multiple generations who come for a seaside stay. While the philosophy is undeniably “the more the merrier,” Ahearn was careful to create outdoor living zones for groups of all sizes that are independent from one another—all, however, take advantage of stunning ocean views.

Patrick Ahearn ArchitectArchitecture by Patrick Ahearn Architect; photo by Greg Premru Photography

The spirit of the grand turn-of-the-last-century Shingle style home is also brought into the interior. All of the elements of a formal historic home are there, explains the architect, expressed through full-height millwork paneling and antique oak reclaimed flooring and paneling. Such features were “dressed down” to reflect the breezy, casual culture that pervades the Vineyard today. 

Patrick Ahearn ArchitectArchitecture by Patrick Ahearn Architect; photo by Greg Premru Photography

Patrick Ahearn ArchitectArchitecture by Patrick Ahearn Architect; photo by Greg Premru Photography

While a spacious home, there’s an intimacy and human scale to the interior spaces created by broad swaths of beadboard, traditional paneling, and the effect of strongly cased doorframes and beams. Though the primary living spaces unfold gently from one room to the next, more often than not one’s gaze remains locked on the shining sea outdoors. 

Patrick Ahearn ArchitectArchitecture by Patrick Ahearn Architect; photo by Greg Premru Photography

Polhemus Savery DaSilvaArchitecture by Polhemus Savery DaSilva; photo by Brian Vanden Brink

For a charismatic escape on a tidal river on the elbow of Cape Cod, architects Polhemus Savery DaSilva resurrected what they believe made the grandest historical Shingle style homes such treasures: the feeling that a single shingle wrap envelops the whole of the home and looks as if “cut like wallpaper” to reveal openings. This glorious seaside estate—clad in traditional gray shingle and adorned in an unobtrusive, creamier-than-white trim on the columns and window sash—has just that effect.

Polhemus Savery DaSilvaArchitecture by Polhemus Savery DaSilva; photo by Brian Vanden Brink

Situated on a private peninsula, the country estate enjoys varied natural vistas. A salt pond and wetlands are to the rear, while a river, set off from the sound by a barrier beach whose only inhabitant is a decommissioned lighthouse, is at the fore. The home was positioned to drink it all in and configured so that the major rooms “participate in the best, south facing views.”

Polhemus Savery DaSilva
Architecture by Polhemus Savery DaSilva; photo by Brian Vanden Brink

Polhemus Savery DaSilva
Architecture by Polhemus Savery DaSilva; photo by Brian Vanden Brink

Due to regulatory restrictions, the home could not surpass the footprint of the previously existing house, office and guesthouse. The architects ably navigated the limits to imagine a compact plan with all of the largesse of a seaside estate; a porte cochere separates the main house from the garage and guest suite, a balcony connects the main residence to the guest quarters, and a traditional porch that “is just deep enough” provides a lovely welcome to the idyllic manor.

Architecture by Polhemus Savery DaSilva; photo by Brian Vanden Brink
Architecture by Polhemus Savery DaSilva; photo by Brian Vanden Brink

Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders
Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders

In Yarmouth, Meyer & Meyer Architecture and Interiors, together with Sanford Custom Builders, realized a family compound destined to become an heirloom by the sea. With its air of romance, oversized sitting porch and lush landscape rife with hydrangea, shade trees and lawns that stretch to the brush of the dune, this Barnstable County home could be mistaken for an intimate luxury inn.

Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders
Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders

Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders
Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders

The water vistas surrounding the home are nothing short of spectacular. Meyer & Meyer, Inc. played the gorgeous site to the home’s advantage, incorporating a heavily windowed design that brings an alfresco sensibility to the indoor living spaces. When seated in the living room, dining area, study or even the workout room, guests and homeowners experience the outdoor environs almost as if the structural walls and barriers didn’t exist.

Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders
Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders

Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders
Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders

While the expansive panes of the perimeter bring in light from all sides, an oversized cupola sends sunshine throughout the home by way of the sky. The structural detail gives the beach home an atrium quality, as well as plenty of architectural interest. In fact, the bedrooms of the second floor are separated by this sunny corridor and outfitted with shutters to embrace the light—or shut it out—as needed.

Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders
Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders 

Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders Architecture by Meyer & Meyer, Inc.; construction by Sanford Custom Builders 

Points North

Architecture by TMS ArchitectsArchitecture by TMS Architects

A homeowner with a seaside cottage in North Hampton, New Hampshire, found that less wasn’t more when it came to addressing the vacation needs of their large extended family. The original portion of the home they’ve been living in dated back to the 1890s, and it had been revamped and added to multiple times over the decades in a rather haphazard way. Its living spaces were too small and disconnected and not conducive to family gatherings. The client called upon TMS Architects to redefine their seacoast retreat and open up the living spaces to better suit the tightknit groups who descend upon this convivial spot.

Architecture by TMS ArchitectsArchitecture by TMS Architects

As the heart of the home, the kitchen played a lead role in the redesign. In lieu of a dining table, they added a long bar to the oversized island with an arc to welcome conversation. Congruity was key; it flows right into the other sitting areas—a living room area by the fireplace and a family room setting adjacent to the patio—ensuring that guests and residents always feel like a part of the group.

Architecture by TMS ArchitectsArchitecture by TMS Architects

Architecture by TMS ArchitectsArchitecture by TMS Architects

Because the home sits just across the street from the sea, TMS Architects brought the ocean blue into the abode and gave it a nautical flair. Plush navy, beautiful burnished woods, and finishes and accents the color of sailcloth linen form the color palette. Maritime-minded architectural flourishes also abound—a teak ceiling over the family room evokes the hull of ship, a gold leaf weather vane shaped like a ship sits atop the stone turret, and a compass, inlaid in marble, commands attention in the floor of the art studio tower.

Architecture by TMS ArchitectsArchitecture by TMS Architects

Construction by Groom Construction; photo by Jane MessingerConstruction by Groom Construction; photo by Jane Messinger

Meanwhile, in Marblehead Neck, Massachusetts, Groom Construction worked with the client to renovate a one-story property into a family-centric second home on the harbor that can accommodate the needs of their growing brood. The result is a glistening yet comfortable home with a private dock and a direct outlook to a canvas of boats that dot the waters.

Construction by Groom Construction; photo by Jane MessingerConstruction by Groom Construction; photo by Jane Messinger

In counterpoint to the bustling activity of the seaside setting, the interior of the home is tranquil and pristine. Save for the children’s rooms in the second-story addition, the living spaces are drenched in white and neutral tones that bring an elegant, effortless chic to the spaces and serve to highlight the local color of the landscape just outside its doors.

Construction by Groom Construction; photo by Jane MessingerConstruction by Groom Construction; photo by Jane Messinger

Full glass panels, gleaming marble and tile in both the kitchen and the master bath, as well as the occasional gold accent, bring a breezy sophistication to the main level of this Essex County oasis, while a guest suite, exercise room and family room that spills out to a fieldstone patio on the lower level provides an additional, more casual hangout.

Construction by Groom Construction; photo by Jane MessingerConstruction by Groom Construction; photo by Jane Messinger

Long Island Sound

Architecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow PhotographyArchitecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow Photography

Perched on a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound in Cutchogue, New York, this beautiful new beach home was scripted in an architectural language reminiscent of the ship captains’ homes and farmhouses that have long graced North Fork. David Foley, principal of Foley Fiore Architecture, explains that the goal was to make the stately new construction “of the place.” Inside, however, the firm wrote a new ending for the property, designing the interior to reflect how people like to live now, taking advantage of an open floor plan and enviable views.

Architecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow PhotographyArchitecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow Photography

All of the interior spaces share a kinship but are distinguished by architectural elements—coffered ceilings, columns and beams—that define each room. The respite is laden with rich interior detailing and cabinetry that, while executed in a traditional manner, strike a modern chord. Douglas fir beadboard, shiplap and heart pine are finished in a refreshingly crisp and clean-lined manner. 

Architecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow PhotographyArchitecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow Photography

While the homeowners live in New York, they are smitten with Nantucket and sought to capture the “antique feeling” of the enchanted isle within this seaside home. Foley Fiore celebrated their love of antiques, using “pumpkin pine” flooring in the dining room that plays well with their collection and even built in an antique hutch that they found in Cambridge.

Architecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow PhotographyArchitecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow Photography

Whenever the opportunity presented itself, that architects capitalized on the beauty of the Long Island vista and brought it indoors. Often, that meant making much out of quiet, thoughtful moments. As one navigates the home, they’re greeted by delightful surprises, like the client’s reclaimed hickory office, an uplifted window seat on the landing, the stairway’s elliptical cutout and even an under-eave attic perch with sea views.

Architecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow Photography
Architecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow Photography

Architecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow PhotographyArchitecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow Photography

The exterior spaces, all easily accessed from the public areas of the home, are just as brilliant. The client and guests can soak up the sights of the sound from a raised dining terrace with a pergola for shade, a screened porch, cutting garden or while relaxing at the crystal-clear pool with a granite pool deck.

Architecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow Photography
Architecture by Foley Fiore Architecture; photo by Elizabeth Glasgow Photography

Just across the bay on a barrier island in South Fork, lies a new single-family home that’s a progressive riff on a Hamptons beach house. While blessed with exposure to the ocean on one side and the bay on the other, the home is subject to more than the splendor of its setting. The modern manse by Aamodt / Plumb Architects was designed to be impervious to the extreme coastal weather conditions of its site, even as the homeowners seek to “openly experience the landscape.” 

Architecture by Aamodt / Plumb; photo by Jane MessingerArchitecture by Aamodt / Plumb; photo by Jane Messinger

To achieve this impressive construct, Aamodt / Plumb envisioned a tough-as-nails exterior shell with a light-filled open living space within. Mahogany, limestone, stainless steel and concrete were the materials of choice for their durability, with the latter utilized for its connection to the dune. The concrete, which was cast in place, was mixed with locally sourced sand, explains the firm, and deliberately left exposed in both the interior and exterior to highlight its natural beauty and give the dwelling a decided beach mentality.

Architecture by Aamodt / Plumb; photo by Jane Messinger
Architecture by Aamodt / Plumb; photo by Jane Messinger

The home was designed as a series of hearty “structural boxes,” says Aamodt / Plumb, each with their own purpose and a link to the outside landscape. A stunning stair hall and introspective garden space at the core bring plenty of sunlight and style to the spare but sparkling getaway. Water-jet metal screens (pictured below) designed with the functional purpose of protecting double-height windows from hurricane force winds have a delightful aesthetic value as well: they cast intricate shadow patterns throughout the living space that dance and shift with the light of day.

Architecture by Aamodt / Plumb; photo by Jane MessingerArchitecture by Aamodt / Plumb; photo by Jane Messinger

Architecture by Aamodt / Plumb; photo by Jane Messinger
Architecture by Aamodt / Plumb; photo by Jane Messinger

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