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House at Popponesset

2006 Boston Globe Magazine Home of the Year

This house sits at the edge of a sandy beach. As conceived by PSD, the architectural shapes that create its volumetric complexity appear to be carved from a solid mass, which makes the house seem “friendlier” than some of its boxy neighbors. Over-scaled details help reduce the house’s scale. The visually dominant roof and its shapes lend the house a "top heavy" feel, like the great Queen Anne houses of England. Other influences came from “Gothic” American Victorian houses and from the Shingle Style. This house is, however, lighthearted and whimsical as opposed to formal and serious—a little brooding perhaps, but with a twinkle in its eye rather than a bite in its jaw. Like the best Shingle Style houses, it is at once historic and contemporary. Like the best beach houses, it is at once a wooden ark to be filled with family memories, and a sculptural presence at the edge of a vast expanse of open ocean.

First floor spaces have an informal layout, with the kitchen at the center around which the other rooms revolve. All the major public rooms open to each another, allowing for casual flow, yet they are also defined by partial walls, ceiling shapes, built-ins, and color changes. The complex plan and massing provide opportunities for multiple exposures and views. A cupola and light shaft deliver natural illumination through the heart of the house. All major rooms have direct or indirect water views. The difference between the irregular plan shapes of the interior and the regular perimeter of the house is mediated by a covered porch facing the street and the ocean.