An Island Oasis

With a limited lot size, restrictions on ridge height and a topsy-turvy topography, building this Chatham home on Morris Island presented a series of challenges. For Tim Smith of Minglewood Homes in Chatham, the answer was a Shaker-style structure with steep pitches on the roof to evoke a sense of grandeur.

“We were trying to create a house that kept in character with Chatham,” Smith said. “There are arched entrances and tapered columns. The ridge height led us toward that design.”

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A challenging piece of property offers a unique starting point for this classic house by Minglewood Homes.

Photography by Dan Cutrona
Written by By Rob Duca
Design & Build: Minglewood Homes
Interior Design: Susan Hamilton Design
Kitchen Design & Supply: Main Street at Botellos
Appliances supplied by KAM Appliances

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A soaring ceiling gives the great room a sense of grandeur; a pastel color palette and whimsical accessories keep it from feeling too formal.

Although the house was built on spec, the homeowners, Ralph and Laurine Verrilli, decided to purchase it when only the foundation was in place after studying the blueprints and marveling at the spectacular views of Stage Harbor. The Verrillis made few changes after that, allowing Smith to design the 4,000-square foot, four-bedroom, four-bath home as originally planned.

“We got what we wanted and more out of this house,” Laurine said. “Working with Tim and everybody at Minglewood was fabulous. He had ideas on what colors he wanted to use and the design, and we really agreed on everything he did. We’ve done two large renovations on our main house and it’s never gone this smoothly. The detail is incredible and the finished carpentry is extremely talented. We are really pleased with it.”

The house sits on a half-acre lot. Minglewood donated the remainder of nine unusable acres, which are surrounded by wetlands, to be preserved as town-owned conservation. The exterior stonework, designed and built by SWS Services of Brewster, includes sitting walls, entryways and a circular cobblestone driveway. Susan Hamilton of Susan Hamilton Design in Marblehead served as the interior designer, creating a simple, casual and family-friendly space.

Three generations gather

With three children ages 12, 14 and 16, the Verrillis wanted a home where three generations could gather and still find space and privacy. Thus, there are master suites on the first and second floor for the homeowners and to accommodate visits from their parents, and the walk-out lower level has two bedrooms, two baths and a family room. “My 16-year-old son calls that his suite,” Laurine says. “We call it the garden level.”

The second-floor master extends from the front to the back of the house, maximizing the harbor views. In order to utilize all available space, the bathtub is tucked into a corner alongside an arched window that allows for plenty of light.

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The kitchen’s 14-foot-by-16-foot center island is a favorite gathering spot for the family.

The basement level also includes a mudroom and laundry, and provides access to a stone patio area with a hot tub. Because the house sits on a sloping hill, natural light streams through the windows and French doors, resulting in a warm, cozy atmosphere.

Laurine’s favorite spot is the kitchen, where the family regularly congregates around a 14-foot-by-six-foot center island that seats six and still leaves room for the cook to prepare meals. A white Carrara marble counter blends beautifully with dove-white cabinets and a sea-green marble backsplash. Jet Mist black granite counters provide contrast.

“Both our parents love to cook, so we spend lots of time there,” Laurine says.

A hallway leads past a wet bar painted in warm gray, where a compass rose design in the oak floor points due north and gives the longitude and latitude coordinates for the property. The wet bar features a beverage and wine refrigerator. “You can walk in from the deck and get whatever you need,” Laurine says.

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An arrangement of four comfortable chairs at one end of the kitchen is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine; sliding doors lead out to a deck that runs the entire length of the back of the house.

It’s a safe bet that the 60-foot-by-24-foot deck will see plenty of activity. It extends across the entire back of the house and partially wraps around the side to a staircase. A variety of chairs and tables, along with large planters and lanterns placed along the area make the massive deck more intimate and warm. “Finishing touches like colorful striped outdoor canvas pillows, coordinating folding stools and ceramic side tables add contrast and just enough color to make the outdoor living space feel completely furnished,” says Hamilton.

“What we really wanted was to take advantage of the beautiful outdoor living space,” she says. “We wanted to make that deck feel like it’s part of the living space and is an extension of the indoors. To maximize the amazing outdoor views I oriented the indoor dining area to face the harbor. A long antique bench sits behind the dining table, along the back wall facing the deck and beautiful harbor beyond. A large mirror above the bench reflects the exterior light and water, connecting the indoor and outdoor spaces and filling the room with natural beauty.”

The great room has 12-foot vaulted ceilings with a bead board design over a gas fireplace. Aqua walls and sea-green-and-white striped furnishings reflect the waterfront surroundings. A flat-screen television sits against a recessed wall, with built-in shelving on each side. The wainscoting and crown molding provide elegance to the space. A nifty window seat is bracketed by built-in bookcases.

“This house was designed to take advantage of the wonderful views of Stage Harbor,” Laurine says. “But mainly, it’s a great family house. I like that we can all be there and there are many different spaces for everyone to go.”

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The deck that runs along the back of the home measures a generous 60-by-24-feet and has views of the water from three sides; it’s a favorite gathering spot for the entire family.

Article published in 2013-14 issue.

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