Brian Vanden Brink
The client asked us to renovate and expand their 1930’s cape to add significantly more space, maximize a narrow ocean view, open dark spaces to the light, and create useable outdoor living space. They liked the rambling nature of the old house that had grown with various additions over time. We kept all of the existing structure and expanded in a similarly additive way. The goal was to provide playful character and relaxing spaces for the retirement home of a worldly couple with a good sense of humor. A contextual Cape Cod feeling was desired, but there was also a need to accommodate contemporary art and furniture. The low ceilings, cozy spaces, and multiple fireplaces of the old cape remain in portions of the interior, but the whole is now updated, organized, and functional for casual, contemporary living. We also created outdoor living spaces that take advantage of various aspects of the site from ocean view, to a large swimming pool, to a contemplative labyrinth.
The exaggerated fool weather vane was modeled after a tarot card from the owner’s collection, but we replaced the fool’s staff with a golf club and placed a martini in his other hand. The facial profile is the husband owner’s actual face, photographed surreptitiously by his wife for our use and his surprise. A functional but unattractive chimney cap was shrouded by a flaring copper screen with flame-like zigzags cut into the copper—a playful detail that contributes to the dancing roofscape of chimney, dormers, cupola, weather vane and finial. Other classically inspired but playfully casual details include pineapple-topped pilasters signaling welcome at the front door; and moon, sun and star cut-out shapes in the shutters and new back stair balustrade.
The existing driveway was at the west side of the property, right where the best ocean view was available. We moved the driveway to pass in front of the house and to a new garage at the east end, and located the large new addition to access the view. A new porch off of the living room and new dining space leads to a terrace partially shielded from the street by a stone wall. These spaces align with the view beyond, as does the new master bedroom on the second floor directly above. To avoid overwhelming the existing cape, subtle asymmetrical balance was the design intent. The new full two-story addition steps back and up, creating an echelon that, along with the roofscape mentioned above, rises up and back from the existing addition, across the cape core, and culminates in the weather vane. An existing projecting wing at the back of the house is now one side of a small courtyard formed by a new wing. A new stair rises up along the courtyard, connecting the daily indoor experience with the outdoor living spaces and peaks of the spectacular gardens beyond. An old garage that used to render much of the backyard vehicular circulation has been renovated into a small but dramatic exercise space.