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House of Shifting Sands

House of Shifting Sands, Early Summer 2017 Cape Cod HOME |

The open kitchen integrates perfectly within the rest of the living space due to its clean aesthetic, introduction of a blue tile backsplash, and use of sophisticated materials. Photo by Jane Messinger

Standing on ladders situated on the elevated spot, it was clear to all that the site of the house was best set lower on the coastal bank in the middle of the hill. There, tucked within the confines of the dunes, breathtaking ocean views flood floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and the sun’s rays warm the space irrespective of the season. “Views and natural light are always of great consequence to the design process and directly influence the location and overall form of the house as well as the shape and size of windows. We worked hard to really lock the design of the house into its site, including the rising and setting of the sun,” notes Ruhl. “One of the greatest pleasures for me in designing this house was tying it seamlessly into the coastal bank and rolling hills, with the confidence that much of the house would become invisible to passersby as the native landscaping matures over time.” From there, creativity and wonder took flight.    

The foremost request of the clients was a simple one: to build a modern beach house infused with warmth and energy in a restful and relaxing setting. John Kruse, vice president and principal of the project builder, Sea-Dar Construction, says, “Although this project presented several production challenges such as harsh wind and winter weather; a coarse but delicate landscape in which to build; and a tight timeline, we were confident in overcoming these issues. The results speak for themselves. The copper radius roof, elevated living spaces and board-formed concrete were complex elements that we were able to integrate seamlessly into the structure of the residence.”

On the inland side of the house, entry is by way of a long ramp that shifts softly with the natural landscape. Cedar-shingled planes cover the curving exterior that seems to float effortlessly above the ground by means of concrete-based columns that rise from the sand. Just inside the front door lies a welcome bench, and steps beyond is the middle of the house where an architectural “hole” allows the home to breathe and naturally cool itself most of the year by using the sea breezes and the floor-to-ceiling windows for exactly what the architects had intended. As an added bonus, it serves as the perfect hideaway for reading or napping. In the warmer months, a shady breezeway below this space offers starry sky views while sweet floral scents emanate from the trellis along the side wall that is planted with evergreen and flowering vines.

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