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New Seabury home designed by John Dvorsack exceeds family’s expectations

John Dvorsack

Photo by Dan Cutrona

In addition to the Santa Monica theme’s sleight-of-hand, a number of other appearances continue the magic’s “Turn” and help to conceal the unseen. One of these is the walkout basement, which feels much more like a first floor than a cellar due to the way it opens to the pool deck and to the same views of the water that the upper stories enjoy. Down here, what could have simply been a kids’ play area actually serves two other functions: one of the movie room, and one of party central. While the two purposes may seem incongruous, the Shanahans built with two key intentions: family enjoyment and entertainment. Berger, who first collaborated with the Shanahans on their Wellesley home, states, “They’re big entertainers; hosting people is a large part of who they are.” It’s fitting, then, that what appears to be a bar downstairs is actually almost a full kitchen, providing access to popcorn and ice cream for the kids and easy access to the pool area for bartenders and catering staff. Goldstein states, “There’s plenty of space. At one of their parties last summer, there were over 100 people down here, and no one was tripping over each other.” Another clever trick is the service pantry, which looks like a normal room, though one with intricately built-in cabinetry and drawers. Its true purpose, however, is not to house spices and boxes of pasta but to serve as a staging area for summer adventure. A side door leads directly from the pantry to a walkway leading to the dock, where the Shanahans keep their 42-foot motor yacht. “There’s a fridge, an ice maker, coolers, and everything you’d need for a day on the boat,” says Berger.

The crown of the Shanahans’ home, up on the top floor, contains what may be its most precious, though hidden, gem: the roof deck. This area also has its own bar, complete with a kitchenette and miniature dishwasher. Berger notes, “They’re totally outfitted on every floor.” Goldstein describes this “crow’s nest” as “a modern take on the traditional widow’s walk. You can watch boats come in and out of the river all day,” he says, “and they won’t even know you’re here.” Of course, this area is completely hidden from the street as well. It’s the perfect escape within this hideaway of a home. Berger elaborates, explaining, “I chose a wraparound sectional that hugs three sides of the deck. We had some good laughs about that because I called it the make-out sofa.” On a more serious note, she adds, “We really wanted the view to be the star of this house.”

And here is where the true magic of the Shanahan home comes into play, for the view leads to “The Prestige.” From an interior design perspective, Berger had to essentially design the opposite of what she had created for the Shanahans in Wellesley, where she had used color—the house featured fuchsia walls—more wildly and vibrantly. Berger says, “Heather wants the ‘wow!’ What no one has seen before.” But in New Seabury, the key to this “wow” effect was more minimalistic, and it was found by bringing in the light and the views. The “color moments” are there to complement and enhance rather than to control the theme.

Goldstein, along with Falmouth architect John Dvorsack played equally critical parts in achieving the ultimate goal. Dvorsack’s design of decks on each of the home’s four levels and large windows that Goldstein expertly installed, drink in the colors of Popponesset Island, the river, and the beach. There is also the massive 14-foot window seat on the main floor, Berger notes. “We ended up widening it to the width of a twin bed,” she says. Dvorsack adds, “The roof deck and bar is my favorite space. Its views looking out to Nantucket Sound are spectacular.” Scott Pimental of Falmouth did most of the finish carpentry work, including the many custom built-in features throughout the home, such as the mantle in the living room, and the beds in the boys’ room, which resembles a playful captain’s quarters from a luxury sailing vessel. Pimentel also crafted the intricate staircase that expands into a bench at the entryway, which Goldstein ranks among the finest elements in the home. “It took Scott three days to build this one piece,” Goldstein says. “And the pieces of white oak in each of the other stairs were chosen specifically for their grain patterns.”

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