Hyannis Port home offers waterfront living at its finest
Kalamunda, an eastern suburb of Perth, Australia, gets its name from the Aboriginal words “Cala” (home) and “Munnda” (forest)—thus it is commonly translated to mean “a home in the forest.” Kalamunda is also a term that is understood to have ties to the language of the Ku-ring-gai tribe of northern Sydney, Australia, with the translation “place of many hills.”
It’s fitting, then, that an Australia native and his wife dubbed their Hyannis Port home Kalamunda, a property quietly nestled within a canopy of pine trees atop an undulating hill. But what lies beyond those trees and that hill is what undoubtedly distinguishes the home.
A waterfront home on Cape Cod is certainly not a rarity, but what is rare about Kalamunda are the kind of omnipresent, commanding ocean views it boasts. With nearly 270 degrees of Nantucket Sound scenery that seems to stretch on infinitely, it’s easy to understand why Kalamunda has such a hold on the homeowners, who have owned the property for the last 20-plus years.
In 2005, the homeowners enlisted architect Ivan Bereznicki to revamp their one-story cottage they had come to outgrow. “Some architects think inside out. He looks outside in,” the homeowner says of Ivan, whose approach would prove to be key, as she explains the motivation behind the remodel. “We were not looking for a big house,” she says. “The goal is to enjoy our living on the water as much as we can.”
Faced with zoning and conservation restrictions, Bereznicki was limited to a footprint of 2,000 square feet on the site. “That dictated the configuration very early on,” he says, “and it was a difficulty in that we needed to accommodate a very different program in a footprint that was designed for something completely different.” To accommodate the family of six and give them the open, indoor-outdoor living spaces they desired, Bereznicki redesigned Kalamunda as a three-story house. “We wanted to scale the house from what appears to be a lower element to something that rises up in steps gradually,” he explains.
On the ground entry level—where there are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a mudroom and laundry—an open stairway leads directly into the open living room of the main floor, which continues to flow into a dining room and kitchen. Floor-to-ceiling lift-and-slide glass doors by Dynamic Architectural envelop each space, maximizing the unobstructed south-facing views and providing access to an expansive deck built right on the grade. “One of the nice things about this site is that you’re close enough to Hyannis to see all the ferries coming and going. And there are buoys out there flashing through the night, so it’s never a dark picture,” Bereznicki notes.
On the third floor, in an effort to minimize the scale of the house, Bereznicki explains that he utilized only a portion of the level as living space, designing a balcony—a “gallery,” as he describes it—that runs the length of the floor and looks down into the dining room. Off of the far left corner of the gallery is access to a walkout balcony, and from the opposite corner one finds a study tucked off to the right and the master suite straight ahead. A walkout balcony off the master bedroom provides the homeowners a wonderful vantage point from which to take in the rich sunsets over the ocean. From the street side, only a set of dormers indicates the presence of the upper floor.
Given the inherent separation created by multiple levels, Bereznicki sought to establish a sense of connectedness between all three floors. The majority of walls and ceilings throughout the house are done in shiplap, “before shiplap siding became all the rage,” he notes, and in addition to the ground floor ceiling being open, the dining room ceiling extends to the third floor. The variety of elegant geometric shapes seen in the ceiling structures—from trapezoids and triangles to the cone-like dome over the living room—are architectural eye candy, making for spaces as dynamic as the views beyond.
“Sometimes you get a waterfront property and it’s kind of a one-view show. Here, your view really is much more complex than that, and I wanted to reflect that complexity in the architecture,” Bereznicki says. Orthogonal and diagonal forms are also seen in the angled placements of the sliding glass doors on the main floor as well as the hexagonal shapes of the main floor living, dining and kitchen spaces. Looking up toward the third floor from the landing of the main level, Bereznicki compares the staggered geometry to the image of Marcel Duchamp’s 1912 abstract oil painting “Nude Descending a Staircase”—a painting that, like the architecture seen throughout the house, provokes contemplation.
Having worked with L.A.-based interior designer Janet Lohman previously over the last two decades, the homeowner says she felt confident bringing Lohman on board the project to create the no-fuss spaces she and her family desired. For the homeowner, it’s all about the details, and attention to detail is evident in the interior finishes she and Lohman chose.
“The finishes on the walls were really important,” Lohman says, “and that they be diverse in each space,” from shiplap, to grasscloth wallpaper in the third floor study, to board and batten in a checkerboard pattern on the back wall of the dining room and along the walls of the main floor hallway, which leads to an en suite bedroom. “We got teased relentlessly about the geometric wall paneling in the dining space. People kept calling it the ‘Hollywood Squares,’” she recalls, laughing, “because the homeowner and I were coming to the Cape from California.” She adds, “It’s a beautiful, simple geometry that adds interest where there is none.”
Lohman describes the style of the home as “warm modernism but with a Swedish aesthetic,” achieved through pale wall and furniture colors and the cerused oak floors. “We wanted people to be drawn to the outside, so we tried to create each space to be kind of quiet, with some interest,” she says. In the kitchen, Bulthaup white cabinetry with stainless steel hardware and Solnhofen limestone flooring add sleek sophistication to the space. Custom draperies, made with indoor-outdoor fabric, and motorized hurricane shutters help achieve the homeowners’ goal of a low-maintenance, durable house.
The portion of deck off the kitchen is set down 18 inches below the grade, creating the feeling of an outdoor living room. A “floating” pergola—designed like a large cantilever—juts out horizontally from the roofline and provides cover over the Gloster couches and chairs. “The homeowners wanted this uninterrupted sense of space going from that shaded area out toward the views,” Bereznicki says.
For the family, Kalamunda is a place where they can truly yallambee—dwell at ease. “When we’re there, the indoor-outdoor element is the key,” the homeowner says. “We really feel like we’re close to nature—wherever you look there’s a tree, or there’s the ocean, or there’s the beach. It’s a joy to be there.”
The following businesses/individuals contributed to the design and construction of the home featured in this article:
Architect: Bereznicki Architects
General contractor: E.B. Norris & Son Builders, Craig Ashworth
Project manager: Michael Moynihan
Interior designer: Janet Lohman Design
Landscape architect: Rick Lamb Associates