A Saltbox Home Is Revamped to Embrace its Sublime Cove Setting
There was never a question about the goal of this home renovation—in fact, it was a rare opportunity to capitalize on an obvious perk.
"The home is located on a cove on Martha's Vineyard, surrounded by farmland. There are expansive views in all directions," architect Maryann Thompson says. "A nearby silo and an adjacent cove are both focal points of those views."
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Yet the young couple who bought this property couldn't see much of it from the existing saltbox architecture, which was originally built in the 1970s. They imagined a much brighter vacation home for their family to escape to from Brooklyn, New York; a place where the sights were as easy to come by as the breeze.
They also asked that there be enough room for more guests, in case anyone else they knew wanted to see the stunning surroundings for themselves. With these needs in mind, Thompson got to work on a clear mission to bring the outdoors in.
"We used the existing footprint and basic saltbox shape, but we radically modernized the house inside by opening the interiors up to light and the landscape," she says.
She cleared the home of its decades-old mildew and created a "reverse" layout that placed the living area upstairs and the bedrooms below. In that common space, a large triangular window was installed to provide a place to see the cove beyond, and Thompson made room for full-length seating directly below its glass.
A few steps away, Thompson went one step further with the view-heavy design. "A second-level outdoor shower is located in a small niche at the top of the stairs, which creates an interesting ambiguity between indoor and outdoor space."
The downstairs renovation solved the potential need for more room. Two bedrooms can sleep four, but the third, well, it can sleep 12.
"The bunk-bed room can handle all the kids," Thompson says. "There are also two small nooks off the hallway for spontaneous get-togethers, or for alone time."
And to make sure that the downstairs and upstairs felt united, Thompson used one natural product throughout the home that's another nod to its setting: red oak.
"Wood was chosen as a main feature of the property for three reasons," she says. "It sequesters carbon, so its use indoors is good for the environment. It also feels cool to the touch in the summer, and warm in the winter. The third reason is that a wooden interior references the old fishing cabins on the Vineyard that were built without insulation."
Given the home's many skylights and large windows, as well as its multiple sliding doors, it's safe to say that Thompson achieved the overall goal.
"The site has such beautiful views," she says. "We just had to find ways to open the house up to them."
Builder: Tate Builders, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Sourati Engineering Group
Civil Engineer: Schofield, Barbini, and Hoehn Inc.
Landscape Design: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
Interior Design: Shelter
Cabinetry Design: Herrick and White
Photography: Chuck Choi