The house sits on the top of a small hill on Lower Cape Cod, its multitude of outsized windows allowing light to stream into every room from sunrise to sunset, providing a warm, cozy quality to the 6,000-square foot property.
Let the light shine in
“This is a real retreat for the homeowners,” Principal Designer John DaSilva explains. “One of the unique aspects is that the windows are over-scaled, and that makes the house feel smaller. It sort of confounds your expectations. It’s a country estate, but it’s also a comfortable home.”
It is a home that is luxurious and informal, or as the homeowners phrase it, “elegant, while being casual and practical.”
PolhemusSavery DaSilva Architects Builders of Chatham served as the builders and architects in this six-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath house that features a semi-detached guest suite above a two-car garage, a screened-in porch, a second-story open-air balcony off the master bedroom, two fireplaces, a plethora of built-in bookcases, a swimming pool and windows, windows, windows.
“We were very concerned with maximizing the benefit from natural light, and providing views to the landscape,” says DaSilva.
The homeowners are clearly delighted with the results. “The longer I live in the house the more I understand the care and creativity that went into the design and construction,” said the husband. “I see how the house works with the sun as it moves through the day. I see how every detail was intentional and carefully crafted.”
An entrance that entices
The composition of the house is defined by the entry, where matching individual columns and an archway beckon visitors onto a porch toward an extra wide front door. The tongue-in-groove cedar boards used for the porch walls provide a smooth surface that gently leads to the inside of the house. “The finish is different from the exterior shingles and the interior plaster. It is natural wood, like the shingles, but its surface is smooth, like the plaster, so it feels a part of both the exterior and the interior,” DaSilva says.
The homeowners did not want a formal entry hall, so DaSilva created a transitional space called an Aedicule, a term traditionally used to describe small shrines framed by columns within the facades of classical and gothic buildings. Surrounded by four columns with its own shaped ceiling, this entry area serves as a domestic “temple.” The uniquely designed columns are cross-shaped in plan and slope with a slight curve on their sides. This is a place to pause. It also organizes the open floor plan. While the living room, dining room and kitchen can all be seen from the central spot, each space has a distinctive location. An opening in the ceiling allows light to filter through from a skylight above the second-floor balcony and provides western light into the east-facing living room.
Truly livable living spaces
The sloped living room ceiling, which stretches 16 feet high, is dramatic without feeling grand or palatial. A second-floor balcony overlooks the space, with an opposite-side arched window streaming more light into the room. “It’s still a comfortable room to sit in,” DaSilva says. The masonry stone-to-ceiling wood-burning fireplace, made of New England river rock, sits at a 45-degree angle and is also open to the dining room. Matching built-in bookcases adorn each wall.
The kitchen was designed and installed by Classic Kitchens of Hyannis. The centerpiece is the 12-foot island, which has a wood countertop that creates separation between the eating area and the work surface. Further definition is provided by a ceiling that pops up over the work area. A counter with glass doors and a slightly higher shelf shields the messy work area from the living room.
A neat twist is the library, which begins in the den and then winds around a wall and up the twisting stairs via built-in bookcases, each with distinctive shapes and sizes. The den juts out from the house and offers its own private space with a gas fireplace made of a stone slab veneer. Light pours into the room from three sides.
The view from above
Nearly half of the living space is on the second floor, including the spacious master suite that offers a peek of the water from the outside deck. The master bath is equipped with a Jacuzzi tub and a two-sided glass-enclosed walk-in shower built with uniquely decorative yellow and silver marble tiles that evoke the feeling of running water. “They have movement to them. It’s quite dynamic,” DaSilva says. Three bedrooms and two baths complete the second-floor living space.
Because the home sits above a steep hill that is between it and the street, the house was built with a series of angles around an auto court to evoke a feeling of enclosure and arrival. The swimming pool was installed on a downgrade, so that one looks over it from the living space. David Hawk of Hawk Design in Bourne, the landscape architects on the project, created a sequence of steps and terraces that pass a grille area and lead to the pool.
“The house is unique, but not out of place,” the homeowner says. “It doesn’t quite look like any other house I’ve seen, yet it is comfortable on our site and in our neighborhood.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Randall Perry
Design & Build: Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders
**As seen in Southern New England Home magazine’s 2012-2013 print edition.