House on a Salt Pond
House on a Salt Pond
Brian Vanden Brink
House on a Salt Pond is a gracious home for retirement reminiscent of late 19th century shingle-style homes that combined shingle-wrapped forms with classical revival details. Tucked in between a golf course, a protected pond that opens to bay and ocean, and a hillside leading up to another house, the tight site was a challenge. The neighborhood of large homes and estates sits intertwined with one of the most beautiful golf courses on the East Coast. The peninsula has ocean and bay views across the golf course and private properties that are reminiscent of parts of Scotland and other verdant islands with rolling hills.
An existing house on the property sat right down on the beach—fun for a vacation house but flood prone to the extreme. There was also an existing guest house and a detached office. All three buildings were removed and a larger single house was placed up-hill from the beach. It still feels close to the water but is now out of the flood plain. Indigenous coastal plantings cover the newly restored bank where the previous building and its parking area sat.
The client asked for street and pond facing façades with shuttered windows, giving up the panorama that ganged windows afford in favor of a more traditional classical revival influenced shingle style. Despite conservation requirements that imposed footprint restrictions, the owners felt some of the footprint should be devoted to a broad back porch facing the pond. A portion of the porch is screened in. Steps lead from the porch to a large terrace.
A gently curving roof defines a slightly projecting wing in the center of which the front entry is placed. At the peak is a whimsical weather vane of a frustrated golfer breaking a club over his knee. We took an old club and literally had a model break it over his knee while we photographed him. We traced the photo to get the proportions just right and a metal worker used a digitally-controlled machine to cut the shape out of copper sheets. The copper incarnation of this moment of frustration is placed where there is a straight shot of visibility (if not golf balls) from one of the tee-offs of the immediately adjacent golf course. Lighter moments, or at least more smiles, are now said to occur at this otherwise challenging spot.
The floor plan is organized around the view. All of the living spaces and most of the bedrooms face the pond. Service, circulation and bath spaces, except for the master bath, are grouped together at the street side of the house. There is a view through the house and out to the pond from the front door. Even the basement game room has a view, through corner windows that face the pond and adjacent marsh. The living spaces are open to one another, but defined by ceiling shapes, columns and cased openings. This provides the best of both worlds—enough openness for casual, social living, and enough enclosure for some sense of traditional rooms.