HGTV’s spectacular 2015 Martha’s Vineyard “dream home” is a fitting reflection of the island’s historic and scenic allure.
Designed by highly regarded Martha’s Vineyard architect Patrick Ahearn, this lovely island cottage comes with all of the expected features of an upscale home—as well as a few unanticipated amenities, including a brand new 2015 GMC Acadia Denali—and $250,000 in cash. Built for cable network HGTV’s “Dream Home Giveaway,” this house is every bit a homeowner’s fantasy, especially since it is located in one of America’s most famous—and beautiful—coastal locations.
Just outside Edgartown, this 3,200-square-foot home built by Martha’s Vineyard’s Timothy McHugh Builders, Inc., has all of the architectural charm of a seaside cottage—fused with the elegance of the high-end residences in the exclusive Vineyard residential community of the Boathouse Field Club near by.
Each year, HGTV’s house planner Jack Thomasson, looks for the ideal location to build a dream home to give away in the sweepstakes contest and for 2015, Martha’s Vineyard was that dream location. “We figured if it is a place that presidents like to visit, then it would be an ideal location for the 2015 dream home,” says Gary McCormick, director of corporate marketing & public relations for Scripps Networks Interactive, referring to the island’s popularity with recent U.S. presidents, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
The process for choosing the ultimate spot on the island began with selecting just the right architect. “We were looking for somebody who was local and familiar with the area,” says McCormick. Patrick Ahearn proved to be the right choice, procuring the lot and even providing a storyline to go along with his design. “I like to create a script to go along with a plan; it helps drive the design,” Ahearn says.
The story behind the dream house is that Ahearn designed the home inspired by the cottages built on the Vineyard’s Katama plains at the turn of the 1900s, when fishermen built the shacks for hunting, fishing, and camping out. Typically, Ahearn says, there would be a main cottage for the living area—an early version of today’s ‘man cave’—with two small cottages added on later for curing meats and cutting fish. “I wanted to create the illusion that this home has been on the island for a very long time,” Ahearn says.
Though his initial design called for four bedrooms, the HGTV team asked that it be pared back to just three, to accommodate an elaborate master suite. “That was the only change that they asked me to make,” Ahearn says.
The three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home boasts a large gourmet kitchen with a skylight and a central double-height great room with three sets of French doors opening out onto a blue stone terrace. The master suite, which includes a walk-in closet with separate dressing room, a spa-like bathroom, and two private patios, is at one end of the sprawling, single-story home, while two additional bathrooms and two guest bedrooms—each with private outdoor courtyards—are located at the other end of the house.
McHugh, who has worked with Ahearn on other projects in the past, praises the design. “I really like the layout of the house, especially the separate entrances for each of the bedrooms. That’s a great element to have in a house—especially a vacation home,” the contractor says. Though the home is only a single story, McHugh says the far-flung, expansive layout makes it feel much more spacious. “Everything throughout is cathedral, so the volume of the house feels much larger,” the builder says. “It’s a nice scale and it feels like a house and not a ‘McMansion’,” notes Ahearn.
Interior design elements, such as antique hickory wood beams in the great room, evoke rustic charm without compromising the classic style of the home. A wall of French doors with windows above allows natural sunlight to pour into the home, while a skylight in the kitchen also provides wonderful natural light.
Initially, McHugh was not entirely confident that these materials would work inside the home. “When the hickory beams arrived, they looked like railroad ties. But once we got them cleaned up and installed, they really looked great,” he says.
Interior designer, Linda Woodrum, who selected all of the paint colors, furnishings, and other accessories applauds Ahearn’s decision to include the beams. “You need the contrast of the rustic beams with the white bead board. It pulls the eye around the room,” Woodrum says.
Other features in the home—especially those in the master bath—provide the illusion of a high-end resort. A stand-alone tub on a Carrera marble floor offers the ambiance of an upscale resort, while the subtle color palette gives the space a coastal serenity. “A master bathroom should always make you feel like you are in a five-star hotel. It should be a place that provides tranquility, where you go at the end of the day to rejuvenate,” the designer says.
The designer says that some of her favorite design elements in the home are those that are beautiful—yet functional. “I love the two chests that flank either side of the front door. They provide the storage needed so that the great room remains beautiful and elegant without being cluttered. I also love the two occasional chairs that are positioned by the front door. The chairs provide additional seating in the dining room—or the great room—when needed, but don’t have to remain in those rooms taking up space. The pieces are both beautiful and practical,” Woodrum says.
One of the challenges of designing a home to give away, Woodrum says, is to choose furnishings and accessories that have a broad appeal. Shopping at local interior design shops like Tracker Home, Bespoke Abode, and the Juliska Store allowed Woodrum to choose beautiful and unique accessories that reflected the region while artwork from Deborah Colter and The Granary Gallery provided the finishing touches to the home. Though the grey and blue tones throughout the home evoke a New England coastal environment and Sunbrella fabrics on the furniture are durable enough to stand up to any amount of seaside wear and tear, cotton candy pink stripes on the wall in the kid’s’ bedroom might be considered a bit customized.
This room, Woodrum says, is the best demonstration of HGTV’s mission. “That room can easily be transformed from a little girl’s bedroom, to a traditional guest room with a coat of paint. This room shows the magic of paint and the amazing impact that it can have on a room. And that is what HGTV is all about—showing our viewers how to completely change the feel of a room with just a few minor changes,” Woodrum says.
“With the annual home giveaway, we try to build the type of house everyone dreams about having, or living in, and to include the types of services and amenities that our viewers are looking for. There are parts of this home, either in the design, architecture, or materials that our viewers will integrate into their own home,” says McCormick. “It’s all about innovation and inspiration.“
Exterior details of the home are a reflection of the island with some of the materials chosen specifically because of the home’s location. Double pane, aluminum clad wood windows and doors with impact-resistant storm glass were used throughout the house, along with working shutters that can be closed to protect the windows during fierce storm conditions. All of the window fasteners are stainless steel, or galvanized, to prevent rust corrosion.
As with any new home construction project, there were some challenges to overcome. “Installing the ceiling beams and the beadboard was a bit of a challenge—getting everything to line up just right,” McHugh says.
Both McHugh and Ahearn agree that the real challenge in this project was the timeline. “Building this home should have taken a year, but we did it in five months,” says Ahearn. Construction on the home began at the beginning of May 2014 and, due to Field Club restrictions, everything had to be enclosed before the end of June. “We could only do work on the home’s interior during the summer months,” McHugh says.
The tight timeline nearly caused the builder to turn down the project. “I was already very busy and I knew that building this house in five months would require ordering materials ahead of time and securing subcontractors well in advance. I took on a bit of a risk when I agreed to do the project. I had to order $120,000 worth of glass windows before we had even signed the contract. That was a little scary,” McHugh admits.
This month, the keys to this dream cottage will be handed over to Katherine O’Dell of Huntsville, Alabama, the lucky 2015 Dream Home winner. Woodrum is hoping that the new owner is impressed with the home. “I just love New England and the Cape Cod style. This home is everything you want for contemporary living today, with the charming curb appeal of yesterday. It speaks to the New England sensibility,” says the designer. “It is luxurious, but not overstated.”