Hutker Architects discusses the design inspirations behind this Falmouth boathouse.

Form, Function & a Whole Lot of Fun | Cape Cod HOME Summer 2016

Photograph by Dan Cutrona

If a house can be a playground—a vacation retreat where family comes together and never wants to leave—then that’s the perfect term to describe this boathouse in Falmouth.

For the husband and wife who own the home, and their three adult daughters and five grandchildren, the boathouse is the perfect spot to enjoy some quality family time. “It’s the house where everybody goes to relax,” the homeowner says, “and to relax together.” The property also provides the family direct access to their dock and boat.

The waterfront home—a staggered 3,000-square-foot, dogtrot gabled cottage—is unique in its structural design, which features two distinct sides.

Charles Orr, who served as the principal on the project for Hutker Architects Inc., describes the unique layout—and the reasons behind the design. “The strategy of the house is directly related to having these two functions,” Orr says, which include a pool house for the family to congregate and an apartment space where the caretaker lives. “We had to take advantage of the fact that the site is long and narrow, so that sets up these two long gables that relate directly to the space we had to use.”

Orr collaborated on the project with Mark Hutker, founder of Hutker Architects Inc., on the design of the project, along with their colleagues Kevin Dauphinais and Erin Levin. Gary Souza of Rogers & Marney Inc. of Osterville served as builder on the project, and Elaine Peretz of New York City was the interior designer. The project took a total of 14 months to complete.

At the start of the project, Orr and his team first needed to address the build-site conditions, including the home’s proximity to the water and the property’s location within a floodplain. “This entire building had to be lifted up five feet off the ground, so there were particular challenges with the mechanical systems and the structural systems,” Orr explains. The home had to be elevated above the flood plain so that structurally, mechanically, and electrically it was in tact above that line. “We had to be very careful and conscious of the shrubs,” he adds, “and sensitive of the water being at that proximity.”

In the end, the higher elevation worked to the homeowners’ benefit, as it provides them with a perch overlooking the serene waterfront surrounding. “We framed this wonderful view out to the water,” Orr says, “so when you first come up to the property, you look right through the house.” The breezeway, complete with an attractive pergola, makes this possible.

This design style allowed Orr and his team to play with the idea of a traditional entryway and layout of a home, while offering a unique way to experience the boathouse and accentuate the division between its two gables. “Our idea here was instead of coming up to a front door, we would lead you through the property,” Orr explains. “You can’t help but be compelled to walk between these gabled structures, to the light that is coming from the back side—and to that view.”

Doors leading to the caretaker’s quarters and the family’s living space are located off of the breezeway, which ultimately leads to a terrace overlooking the rear of the property. Just off the terrace, a semi-recessed infinity pool and spa add to the comfort of the home and also look out over the water. Orr describes a unique detail. “The pool, although it looks like it is submerged, is in fact five feet out of the ground and a couple feet into the ground,” he says.

The terrace, which also features a pergola to help with shade, runs along the entire rear of the home. Down a few stairs, the terrace continues and features a firepit and some cozy furniture. Because this section is at a slightly lower elevation, the view from the living room is not obstructed. “The focus was to get the living room out onto the edge of the terrace and wrap it in glass so that when you’re sitting in that living room, you are exposed on three sides to the view,” Orr says.