Warm memories, natural light and a water view
In 1998, Jennie’s parents gave her and Doug their Nauset Heights cottage, which they refer to as “Little Bit of Heaven.” In recent years, with their three children grown and having significant others of their own, and wanting to accommodate an extended family as well as their friends, Doug and Jennie searched for another property in the area. When they received a letter saying that a nearby house was going on the market, they decided to take a look. Though she was not enamored by the property’s 1940s ranch—long used as a rental—Jennie wandered up the knoll behind the house and called back to Doug, “You need to come up here.” What the couple saw from the hilltop was an uninterrupted view of Nauset Beach, its surrounding conservation land and the glinting ocean beyond. Then and there, they knew this was where they wanted to be.
Having seen the work of John Dvorsack in a magazine advertisement and having checked out the Falmouth architect’s work online, Doug and Jennie hired him to design a home to replace the ranch. They toured several houses Dvorsack had designed and gave the architect a wish list; within a month he showed them blueprints.
While the location offered stunning views, it also presented certain challenges. “It was a very tight site,” Dvorsack says, “and had restrictions in terms of where you could site the house as well as restrictions in general due to the topography.” Essentially, the house would have to be built in the upper right-hand corner of the lot, and Dvorsack would have to front-load as much of the living space as possible, as that was where the views were. “You have to take what the site gives you,” Dvorsack says. “I stepped the architecture up the hill. There is the driveway level with the garage. Then there is the deck level over the garage, and as you go up, the house steps back, to the master bedroom and its deck.”
As the oversized, one-car garage is located in the front rather than the back or side of the house, Dvorsack says, “We wanted to make it look good, so we used beautiful wood doors.” Houses exposed to the elements can involve a lot of maintenance, so to reduce the impact of salt, wind and winter, Dvorsack used red cedar for the shingles, copper flashing, PVC trim, fiberglass gutters, and ipe wood for the decks.
With the varied rooflines, gables and porch wing, Dvorsack succeeded in providing 10 of the house’s 11 rooms with views of the water. This design also “creates a sense of scale,” the architect says. “You are not looking at three stories looming over you.” This was important to Doug and Jennie as well, Dvorsack recalls. “They showed me their existing house, and it was obvious that they were interested in cottage-style details and smaller scale.” While Jennie wanted “color and happiness,” Doug says, “I am all about simplicity and relaxing. I did not want a picture on every space.”
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