Cape Cod Home / Summer 2020 / Home, Garden & Design
Writer: Brenna Collins / Photographer: Dan Cutrona
Resting along Nantucket Sound in West Yarmouth, this coastal getaway is the epitome of relaxation, with every corner inviting you to stay awhile and let out a deep breath.
A home on the ocean is a vision of easy living, wandering between indoors and out with the water as your daily muse. While the beach provides one facet of relaxation, the home’s interior should take the shape of your ultimate retreat. This home along Nantucket Sound is the epitome of a coastal getaway, with its style reflective of the seascape just steps away. Upon witnessing the panoramic views inside, a rush of calmness overcomes guests, just as homeowners Jeff and Nancy Robinson desired. Taking advantage of its coveted position in the dunes, ERT Architects, MJ Nardone Building & Remodeling, and Pastiche of Cape Cod designed the new build to such a level of perfection, one would never know the initial restrictions in play.
After purchasing the lot in West Yarmouth, the Robinsons contacted Erik Tolley, Architect and Principal of ERT Architects, to design their dream home on the Cape. The family had vacationed in the Yarmouth area for years and wanted their own retreat for the warmer months. “The dream was to capture the essence of the Cape with an open floor plan and as much glass in the back of the home as possible. We now have views of the ocean from every room,” Jeff notes.
While the lot was picture-perfect, the list of regulations for the new build proved a challenge. Thankfully, Tolley is no stranger to such challenges. “The homeowners purchased the lot knowing it was a tear down. It ended up being in a velocity flood zone, so that mandated the construction of the new house on piers, a type of flood-proof foundation required for velocity zones. A velocity zone is the strictest type of flood zone because it is closest to the water. The structure of the building has to allow water to flow through or underneath it in the event of a storm. This was one of the nuances of the project. It’s not unusual with these waterfront homes, but it does add another level of complexity to the regulatory approval and the construction process.”
This was just one box to check in the early design stages. The new build was also restricted to a similar footprint as the existing single-story ranch; because the ranch had three bedrooms, the new home was regulated to the same bedroom count. “To be limited to this modest footprint, the challenge for me as an architect becomes how to design a house that is worthy of this site. We fit everything they wanted, in terms of stories and amenities, within a very low profile,” Tolley adds. With Yarmouth’s height restriction at 35 feet, and the home lifted seven feet above the ground, there was a 28-foot window to work within. The new home became two and a half stories, with the third-floor loft serving as a kids’ space.
With the design plans in place, Mike Nardone, owner of MJ Nardone Building & Remodeling, stepped on as builder. “I was there throughout the project, ensuring that the concept that the architect envisioned and the design that the interior designer created came together smoothly. It was a great job all together,” Nardone says. “Initially, getting those pilings in to lift the home was actually a great process. It is all engineered and set out with a perfect plan, it just takes some time,” he adds.
Irina MacPhee, President of Pastiche of Cape Cod, and Adin Weatherley, co-designer, joined as interior designers just after the framing was complete. Collaboration between the team was key throughout the process. As they perfected every corner, they joined forces to select the best materials, hardware, and finishes. “The proof is in the product,” Jeff Robinson says. To any beholder, the result is a perfectly scaled, expansive dream, thanks to the extensive planning and forethought.
For Tolley, it is the exterior that stands out. “For me, I love what we were able to do with the outside. Nobody would know we were limited to this small footprint when we started. I’m particularly proud of the way we were able to treat the outside by breaking up the massing and adding such detail. There’s stone and different siding materials, we used clapboard and shingles all the way around, and glass railings on the decks. It’s a little bit of everything, and it all came together to produce a really nice final product,” Tolley comments. From the beach, the expansive windows and decks on the first two stories, as well as the ‘port hole’ windows up top, establish the home as inviting, bright, and spacious. In the front, the combination of siding materials is a visual masterpiece.
For the interior, Pastiche of Cape Cod created a serene, coastal atmosphere, aligning with Nancy Robinson’s vision. “I knew I wanted it light and airy, almost like a spa feeling with very calming colors. Irina worked her magic coming up with all of the colors I had envisioned. Every room is so calming and soothing. Of course, the view is too, but so are the colors that we chose,” Nancy comments.
Aside from color selection, the interior design process involved scaling the spaces for that airy feel. “They were into the open-concept living. We really translated how they live, their personalities, and what they wanted. It was a very collaborative effort with the architect and builder. Architects design from the outside in, and we design from the inside out. When you really embrace that and collaborate, it turns out just lovely. We wanted it to feel spacious and to accommodate a lot of people. That was a challenge for us because every inch mattered and scale is very important. We had to be careful that the rooms didn’t feel crammed. We wanted to ensure we kept the integrity of the place and what they wanted out of their spaces, so scale and storage were very important. We designed all of the built-ins and closets for that reason,” Irina notes.
On the main floor, one space seamlessly flows into the next, with a wall of windows and sliding glass doors letting in the view and brightening the space. The grid ceiling adds texture and luxury, carrying the home’s blue and white hues upwards. Wrapping the entire space, wide plank wood floors create an easy, coastal feel. “I definitely love the whole open-concept of the eating area, the great room, and the kitchen. It is really wonderful,” Irina notes. Custom cabinetry lines the back walls, covered in Benjamin Moore’s beloved “White Dove”. The double drawer French door refrigerator also blends with the cabinetry. Grounding the kitchen, an oversized island with a quartz counter looks out to the view. To artfully conceal the electrical, it was placed beneath the island counter and within pop-ups in the windows.
The kitchen’s light atmosphere carries into the eating area, where the many windows invite in the water’s hues. The striped blue curtains add coastal tones, carrying the ocean indoors. Over in the living area, neutral seating is arranged to feel like a distinct space, perfect for the group to gather around the floating fireplace.
MacPhee was involved in much of the stylistic decision making, from paint colors to hardware. “We discussed so many things like the floor, hardware, stain color for the door, indoor and outdoor colors, and the fireplace insert,” MacPhee adds. With such thoughtfulness and collaboration, the home truly flows as one cohesive sanctuary.
Outside on the deck, glass railings extend the view and provide refuge from the ocean breezes as the family gathers around the gas fire-pit. “The sliding glass doors to the deck are the best feature. You’re in that great room, you slide open the doors, and they completely disappear out of the way. It’s an 18-foot opening. You’re right there on the ocean. For the Cape, I don’t think you are going to find a better location than that,” Nardone comments.
The master bedroom is a retreat in itself, offering easy, first-floor living and the same sweeping view. The master bath is equipped with its own washer and dryer, double sinks, and a luxurious walk-in shower.
The second floor is complete with an office, laundry area, and two spacious bedrooms. The bedrooms breathe an air of privacy and repose, complete with en suite baths and exterior balconies. The attention to detail is evident in choices like the penny tile, arched doorways, and artful accent pieces.
An additional treasure, the kids’ loft space, lies upstairs on the third floor. With two grandchildren in the family and one on the way, there needed to be additional sleeping and play space. “Because the ceilings are low, and since it needed to be special for the kids, we used nickel gap, which is like shiplap, and painted it white, so it would connect to the rest of the home and feel light and bright. We put in all of these little features so people could sleep up there, as well as some built-in cabinets. When the kids get older, they can hang out up there, and everybody gets a light and USB port by their beds,” MacPhee adds. The Robinsons love the loft space, as it allows the home to accommodate the whole family. “The loft was for the grandkids. As you’re going upstairs, you’re looking out those port hole windows, and all you see is water,” Jeff says. “It’s like you’re on a boat. Irina really perfected the nautical flair up there,” Nancy adds.
In this relaxing retreat, just 150 feet from the water’s edge, life can ebb and flow as time passes and the Robinson family grows. Across the open spaces, its timeless style invites the aura of the beach indoors in the most tasteful, serene manner. To the Robinsons, it is a space to marvel at the Cape’s natural beauty with those they love. “We wanted the home to be very family oriented. That’s what it’s all about— having the kids and grandkids come down to spend time all together,” Nancy notes. “The best parts of our lives have been on the Cape. You cross the bridge and it is instant relaxation. To me, there is nothing more calming or beautiful than watching Mother Nature in her finest element,” Jeff remarks.
View a video of the project here:
Brenna Collins is the staff writer for Cape Cod Life Publications