House at Cotchpinicut
House at Cotchpinicut
Brian Vanden Brink
John DaSilva, PSD
Classic Kitchens & Interiors
The property into which this house is nestled is off a winding dirt road in a hilly, remote, and wooded part of North Chatham. The house site is on a knoll at the edge of a salt marsh with bay and ocean views in the distance. Tall trees surround the other three sides. Other than a fisherman’s shack at the water’s edge, no other structures are visible from the house.
The clients were inspired by broad-roofed bungalows in wooded mountainous settings of the American West, the Adirondacks and rural Europe. They sought a grand woodland cottage that, while atypical on Cape Cod, still sat comfortably on their site specifically, and in the region generally.
The clients wanted a unique house in which their eclectic collections, including modernist paintings, artist-designed furniture and lighting, art glass, hunting trophies, and model trains, could co-exist. Their art collection includes work by Paul Resika, Mercedes Matter, Alexander Calder, Louis Comfort Tiffany and many others. Their furniture and lighting includes several Louis Poulsen and Pritam and Eames pieces.
In our design, the large overhangs, exposed rafter tails, and Gothic tracery all recall the sheltering canopy of the surrounding trees. These elements also suggest the architecture of old family camp bungalows in Maine, and allude to the Gothic Revival communities of the mid 19th century (such as Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard). Other influences came from 19th Century New England mill buildings and broadly gabled shingle style and arts-and-crafts houses.
The rural, informal location is reflected in the layout of the house. The main entry—for both cars and people--is behind two symbolic screen walls that are held up by large, voluptuous brackets. On both sides the screen walls envelope a porté-cochere, under which the main entry door is located. Beyond the porté-cochere is an auto court that serves two separate garages, one connected directly to the mud-room/secondary entrance and one connected, via a back-stair, to the owner’s painting studio above.
The grand entry/stair hall is open to an art gallery space on the second floor. The gallery is above the porté-cochere and behind the screen walls, and connects to the studio to the southwest. On the entry side of the porté-cochere the plan contains densely configured services spaces (mudroom, laundry, etc.). Beyond them, the first floor stretches out; southeast to northwest, with sweeping views and access to a deck that joins these living spaces outside.
The jewel-box like sunroom on the first floor is a get-away at the far southeast corner of the view side of the site. It is pulled away from the main mass of the house to capture direct sun as much as possible. It is angled in plan to both face an opening in the trees to the view and to highlight the special nature of the space.