Perfectly suited for multigenerational living, a Chatham home offers space, character and comfort.By Janice Randall Rohlf | Exterior photos by Lukas Scott / Interior photos by Peter Winson
The same level-headedness and straightforward approach that made Rolf Nixon a successful financier when he started out in business is apparent in his second career, home construction. “I build houses I’d like to live in,” says the principal of Prestige Home Building of Chatham who has fond childhood memories of visiting construction job sites with his grandfather. Nixon’s decision to build only one house a year is further proof of his commitment to excellence and his aversion to cutting corners or settling for second best. A review of the houses he’s attached his name to over recent years reveals that he has fine taste indeed, and his latest project, a collaboration with architect Stephen Hart, is no exception.
Enchantingly sited on Morris Island, one of the most exclusive addresses in Chatham, the skillfully crafted 5,800-square-foot home marries an original structure with an impressive addition more than twice the size. Connecting the two parts is a two-car garage with space above it that can be used entirely as a game room, for example, or that can be divided into smaller rooms. The result is a stunning, essentially brand-new home, set on over one acre. It is perfect for multigenerational living.
The drive to the home is equally show-stopping. Drive past the Coast Guard station and a causeway takes you to the 40-acre island, which is part of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, spanning nearly 12 square miles. There are numerous beach and nature walks accessed from Morris Island, deeded Stage Harbor access for boaters and a private association beach. Chatham’s delightful shops and excellent restaurants are only a few minutes away.
Before the new addition was added, the south side of the property was thickly wooded, with the original house facing the back street. Now, with the new addition as the property’s centerpiece, the house has a much more appealing southern exposure, and the backyard, cleared of trees, is big enough for a swimming pool.
Architect Hart says he has collaborated with Nixon for the past 20 years, and together they’ve designed some dozen homes, including this one. “I see houses very much as sculpture,” says Hart, who has a background in the fine arts and adds that he is “particularly good with roof designs.”
Hart and Nixon wanted to save the original structure to be used as a guesthouse. In the original post-and-beam portion of the house, pine floors and beams have been preserved, adding charm and coziness. It also has a full, modern kitchen with double ovens and a pantry. These private quarters are ideal for houseguests or extended family members who wish to live independently but still have a connection to the main home.
“The house provides exclusive spaces for anyone,” says Nixon, citing in particular the library and the living room in the guesthouse.
The new, 4,000-square-foot addition has four spacious bedrooms, two of which are master suites, one up and one down. A tray ceiling is a nice touch in the second-floor master, whose bathroom sports Carrara marble, a bathtub and a shower. Also upstairs is a very sunny smaller bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, and space that can be used as a library or sitting/TV room.
The heart of the new addition is a spacious eat-in kitchen custom crafted by Kitchen Creations, in Yarmouth, with state-of-the-art Thermidor appliances, including a five-burner cooktop, a pair of 30-inch ovens a drawer-style microwave and lots of cabinets, which are painted crystal white with a coffee brushstroke glaze.
In the dining area, the same antique pine flooring as in the foyer, bought from a teardown in New Hampshire, is used, complemented by the texturally significant shiplap walls. Completing the downstairs is an inviting living area where a six-setting gas fireplace with a leathered marble surround takes center stage. Rounding out the new addition’s first floor are a study and library area and the always-sought-after, versatile bonus room.
Simply put, Nixon calls this property, “A beautiful home on a beautiful lot.” By all accounts, that’s an understatement.