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Diamond in the Bluff

SV Design and Spencer & Company team up to transform a dated structure into a modern marvel.

To take in the surrounding landscape from within this Chatham home feels akin to staring at the world from a mountain peak, every angle affording some new visual pleasure. Ahead is ocean as far as the eye can see, twinkling with sun diamonds as the waves glide to shore. Turning around reveals a rolling marsh, the pickleweed and beach heather on the dawdling riverbanks billowing lightly. On the right is a stretch of sandy beach, and a border of sand dune unfolds on the left, its wild beach grasses rustling in the breeze. Peace radiates from every direction.

For this lucky family, the location of the home is nothing short of perfect. The dune-top environment offers privacy, an abundance of nature and easy access to downtown Chatham. “We come down here to get away,” the homeowners communicate in unison, “and almost all year, there’s a sense of seclusion about it, with the marsh and the ocean, the sunsets and the surrounding nature.” 

Unfortunately, the dreamy locale was among the home’s only ideal features at the time of purchase.

Architect Leslie Schneeberger, AIA, associate prinicpal of SV Design in Chatham, remembers the initial challenges, but most importantly the opportunities inherent to the project. “Having looked at a number of properties with the homeowners, right away I knew this would be the one,” she recalls. “It was something most people would walk away from, but we all saw the potential immediately.” The home was architecturally outdated, struggling with a difficult layout, and the majority of the fixed pane windows suffered from broken seals and overly weathered glass, giving one the feeling of a fly trapped in a dirty glass jar. “Together with the homeowners, we were able to imagine how this home could just float above this unbelievable landscape,” Schneeberger remembers.

Despite its flaws, the homeowners saw a home that fulfilled all of their needs. The house offered the privacy, the sense of “getting away” from the hustle of city life and the open social spaces that they were searching for. For the husband of the couple, the home’s 80s architectural design, a style rarely found among Cape Cod properties, was of particular interest. “This is the ultimate split level, with six half levels in the house,” he explains, “The design resonated back to things I remember thinking were so cool long ago. You just don’t see a lot of contemporary homes on the Cape.” Most importantly, the couple was interested in the home’s potential to foster close family bonds with its open architectural style.

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