A 'Script' for Home Design

Architect and designer Patrick Ahearn often tells clients, “Let’s write the novel of your house to be …” and that is the creative approach he takes with every new project, working with the homeowner to fashion a story or script that he can use to design their dream home.

Photography by Greg Premru Design: Patrick Ahern, Architect

Photography by Greg Premru
Design: Patrick Ahern, Architect

For this Outer Harbor home in Edgartown, the script he imagined was of a house built in the 1920s or ‘30s that was destroyed by a storm and abandoned, only to be reclaimed and restored.

“When people go into my new houses, they really don’t know if it’s a new house or an old restoration,” Ahearn says. “They can’t tell the difference.”

His scripting technique was especially effective for these homeowners, who live in Los Angeles and work in the television and movie industry. It provided a common language and also helped navigate their differences of opinion on what style of house they wanted. The husband pictured a Malibu-style beach house with large planes of unbroken glass, not something Ahearn would ever attempt because it doesn’t fit the scale and vernacular of New England. Luckily, the wife was looking for a homestead with an East Coast sensibility, exactly what Ahearn does best.

“She wanted the house to feel like it could have been there a long time and he instantly bought into the idea of how we could script a house,” he said. “Now they both love the house. They’re extremely happy.”

Ahearn is there from start to finish when he takes on a project. Everything is under his purview, from flooring materials to doorknobs, from faucets to tiles. He provides hands-on attention to all materials and finishes, and the details are exquisite. Elegant moldings and light colors add to the airy and spacious feel of the rooms in this home, which flow in flawless splendor from one to the next. Timber beams from an old mill in Maine in the kitchen, second floor gallery and select bedrooms, along with reconstituted old plank flooring, help give the house the patina of age.

A child’s playhouse with bead board details, plush carpet and a little peeking window is hidden behind a closet as a special treat for young family members who visit, and a screening room and entertaining space for watching movies help personalize the home for its main occupants, as do his and her offices.

“We had to come up with certain ways to do things that responded to their unique needs in terms of the business they are in together,” Ahearn said.

Like this gem, almost all of Ahearn’s houses have outdoor ‘living rooms’ large enough to entertain guests with brick or stone fireplaces that add cozy appeal. The outdoor living space is accessed through French doors off the living room and kitchen and then gently spills down to a stone patio surrounding a pool area with beautiful water views.

The outdoor living room in the backyard also created the perfect structural component for a second floor deck that was seamlessly integrated into the architecture of the house. Because the harbor is a public boat-way, the view of the house from the back is just as important as it is from the front. Where the front concentrates on romance, with a long swoop in the line of the roof, the back lends itself to more drama. The combination of French doors, columns, decks and the pool lend a Gatsby-esque flavor that perfectly fits the script Ahearn and the homeowners had in mind.

“My houses tend to be a lot more timeless in their appeal and a little less trendy in the outside architecture particularly,” Ahearn says. “I tend to do romantic houses that have a certain sensibility yet adapt to the way modern families need to live today.”

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