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Spirits in the Material World

Although the approach to the home is completely new, its design is far better aligned with the original intentions of Nantucket Sound Overlook. “The extra layers of detail and charm work well within the enhanced landscape,” says Ahearn. “Now there’s a real sense of anticipation and arrival.” In the renovation, Ahearn and Jaxtimer corrected mistakes and highlighted elements that are rather unique to the home. They eliminated extraneous windows that had been added on over the years and accentuated gables; they made an awkward and incongrous dormer above the entryway more symmetrical, used shingles on the trim, installed copper gutters and drain pipes, and added corinthian columns on the front porch which “elevate it to a higher lever of detail.” Ahearn recalls that “One of the most difficult decisions we made was concerning the front door. We elected to keep it in its original location, however, we introduced white panelling around the existing band of diamond paned casement windows to create the idea of a formal double door entry to draw people in.” On the back side of the house that actually overlooks Nantucket Sound, Ahearn and his team also made a number of seemingly subtle changes that bring out the home’s character. The improvements are obvious from the water, or even from the lawn, but they are also practical, functional changes that allow the house to live better. 

In keeping with Ahearn’s “ghost in the night” philosophy, many of the home’s aesthetic and functional living improvements took place underground. Sea View Avenue neighbors watched in suspense as the team lifted the entire 6,300 square foot house to build a new foundation—which would create another floor of liveable space and add further subtle revitalization to the overall appearance and character of Nantucket Sound Overlook. By raising the home up from the ground level, Ahearn was able to complete the facelift (pardon the pun) that “took the home out of the 1950s and back to 1880.” Ahearn notes that “New England fieldstone clads the new foundation offset with lattice, anchoring the house to the land.” While the changes to the base of Nantucket Sound Overlook are subtle from the motor court, the transformation is more dramatic and stunning around back. Where a set of stairs essentially bisected the former rear facade and led to deck on stilts that, Ahearn says, “looked like a project from Home Depot,” the team moved the stairway to the side of the house and crafted a new deck with an awning that extends automatically. The base of the deck is now enclosed in lattice and fieldstone. The new positioning of the stairs, says Ahearn, “creates a stronger connection between the sunroom and the deck.” In an important finishing touch, Ahearn replaced aluminum sliding glass doors and hopper windows on this side of the home with “awning windows and transoms on the first floor to break down the scale.”

By redesigning Nantucket Sound Overlook from the foundation up, Ahearn was able to create significant new living spaces. The basement now includes a family laundry room, storage areas, a kids’ hangout room, a media room, a “Costco” room, mechanical closets, and other storage areas along with an outdoor access point as well as a stairway to the first floor. Just as the home’s exterior has undergone a complete revitalization, so has the interior. “The whole kitchen is totally brand new, but the cabinetry is in tune with the flavor of the 1880’s,” says Ahearn. Where a pantry formerly divided the spaces on the main floor, Ahearn opened the kitchen and the family room and relocated the formal dining area to abut the sunroom. The attention to detail from horizontal v-groove nickel board to the hand painted porch floor is exquisite and in keeping with the level of care shown on the home’s exterior. 

While Patrick Ahearn is probably best known in this area for his work in Edgartown, where he has designed over 200 homes, both new and renovated, Nantucket Sound Overlook is his eleventh project on Sea View Avenue, and his sixth on the ocean side of the road. “All in all, incredibly successful for both the clients and their community,” says Ahearn. “It sets the tone for the grand cottages of Osterville.” While the extensive changes have truly revitalized this classic shingle-style home and restored its original spirit, the renovation, Ahearn says, “allows the owners to live the way people want to live today.” 

The unique and stunning interiors of this home were accomplished by Richard FitzGerald (his last project) and Kathleen Sullivan.

Chris White is a contributing writer for Cape Cod Life Publications.

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