At first glance, this Yarmouth home is an exemplary depiction of a traditional Cape Cod property: stained cedar shingles are stacked one after another, a stone chimney rises elegantly from the rooftop, and carefully maintained shrubbery line the outskirts like sentries. Nonetheless, the home resists classification. The height, the shape and the numerous balconies all suggest a specific architectural goal. And indeed, behind a halo of trees in the backyard rests the watery feature that has influenced nearly every part of the home’s architectural design.
A sprawling front lawn invites visitors to trek through the meadow of grass to the backyard, where the expanse of Lewis Bay becomes visible, glinting diamonds in the sunlight. Gazing upwards, it is suddenly clear that the home’s distinct features were crafted to take advantage of this backyard bay. Peering upwards, one squints to estimate where the house ends and the sky begins as the midday sun obscures its true height. Its four layers stacked like a chocolate cake of gigantic proportions, the home guards Lewis Bay with the tenacity of a lighthouse. On a stone courtyard under the shade of the balcony recline several lounge chairs, ideal for taking advantage of the bay breeze on a Cape Cod summer’s day. The home’s many vantage points overlook the sailboats and orange buoys bobbing happily on the horizon. Designed by ERT Architects and constructed by MJ Nardone, the home is a thoughtfully-executed celebration of its seaside location.
As a remodel of a preexisting structure, the soaring house which now occupies the property succeeds most where its predecessor failed: in complementing the beauty of its bayside location. The former property was a low-profile, ranch-style home built during a time when waterfront views were not cherished. Making matters worse, the L-shaped home was visually imbalanced, with one side towering over the other. “The homeowner’s vision was to take better advantage of the water views and to modernize the home,” explains Erik Tolley, Principal and Lead Architect at ERT Architects, “Giving the home a better sense of balance from the exterior was a large part of this modernization.”
“One of our objectives was to maintain the character of the house that was built 40 or 50 years ago as it reveals itself when you come down the long driveway. And of course, we wanted to maximize the view,” the homeowner explains. The challenge of simultaneously creating balance and optimizing views of the bay was accomplished through a reconsideration of space in the home. “Whereas the old house was chopped up into lots of small spaces, we opened up the floor plan in the remodel,” Tolley describes, “This was particularly successful in that it completely transformed the feeling of the house into a warmer, more welcoming space.”
The first floor of the home now boasts a modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances that leads into a spacious and comfortable living area. The kitchen and living spaces are bathed in natural light shining in from numerous wide windows and a set of glass patio doors leading outside. The ceilings in this area were raised during renovations to allow space for five floor to ceiling windows that gaze over the bay.
The raised ceilings were also intended to make the living area a space for personal connection. “The homeowner’s intention was to make the home a place where they could entertain, enjoy family, and just be there, and not have to go somewhere else,” explains Mike Nardone of MJ Nardone, “You can be in that house and have a lot of privacy, or be in the open living spaces and really be together as a family.”
The outdoor living space in particular plays a special role for this family. “The L-shaped house creates a natural courtyard in the back,” describes Nardone, “Those two parts of the house used to be really separate, so being able to take that area and turn it into an outdoor living space really brought the house together.”
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