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Let The Landscape Speak

Sleek stairs in front of the home lead visitors to a furnished rooftop deck that offers the perfect place to sip an evening cocktail or absorb the midday sun. The deck offers the most unobstructed view in the house. “The views are unbelievable,” describes Annie Gilson, lead designer for Stephen Stimson Associates Landscape Architects at the time of the project and current owner of her own landscape company, A. Gilson Landscapes. “Totally panoramic, specifically, 180 degrees of water with a very clear look toward Provincetown off to the right.”  

For Neubauer, however, the starring room within a home is not the one with the best view or trendiest feature, but the one that creates the fondest memories. “My favorite room in this house is the screen porch. In every project I always say to clients, ‘So, we really make screen porches and outdoor showers and mud rooms, and if you want a house to go with it, we can do that too!’” she laughs. “What we have come to learn is that screen porches are the most loved, memorable spaces in homes. They are so wonderful that you don’t want to simply have dinner on the screen porch; you want to spend the day lounging in a comfy spot, and some of the kids might want to even sleep out there. You get that snug, comfortable feeling, but you’re still outside. They are just magical.”

The porch is a favorite of project manager Mark Kinnane of Cape Associates as well, who loves the weathered Corten steel fireplace. “It’s a double-sided fireplace with one side on the screen porch and the other on the interior. It just has a really nice look to it,” he says. The porch also features a living area, full dining area, and grill, while a retractable screen panel allows dinnertime views of the sunset—the ultimate space to enjoy a famous Cape Cod day. 

The planes of the home mimic the flat, parallel lines of the Bay, horizon, and dune on a calm evening, so that the home blends seamlessly into its environment. As Gilson puts it, “The landscape is just an extension of the building.” And, she took that harmonious balance a step further in the landscape design. The home’s front yard features a shallow wading pool with Japanese-inspired stepping stones creating a path across the water, as well as a boardwalk from the road to the door and another heading toward the dune. All of these features incorporate the same straight lines, calling out to the unique structure of the home. “We were working on pulling out long thin pieces and echoing them again and again, repeating them in the design of surfaces,” explains Gilson. “The site includes this huge body of water, and the long linear beach, the long linear dunes…layer after layer of that same shape. We just kept following that up.” 

Gilson cautions against total linear perfection, however, as the lines can become harsh. Her counter against sharp angles was the use of plants. “No native vegetation ever has a linear look to it, even if you plant it in a linear way,” she explains. “It’s so incredibly textured and full; we let it be loose to add some contrast.” Incorporating native vegetation is also a powerful anti-erosion tool, which is important for this home perched on sand. Just a few florae boasted by the property are bayberry, blueberry, white oak, and hydrangea, as well as a rectangular patch of lawn.

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