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Sea Change

Neighborhood

The client for Sea Change sought a transformation on their beloved seaside village property; discussions, and then collaboration, indicated the appropriate home would be quirky, whimsical, and full of personality; dynamic rather than static; unique but still tied to the architectural vernacular of seaside New England; evolved out of anthropomorphically derived Classical architecture, but not purely historicist; something to cause observers to first wonder and then smile; something nearly “rich and strange.” As with the best Mannerist architecture, the goal was a transformation from within, rather than a revolutionary break with, the continuum of architectural tradition.

All of the expressive energy is directed at the front. The back is a simple one-story linear form. Even the outdoor living spaces are at one end, beyond the edge of the facade, rather than at the rear. The front facade gestures down the street where it ends at the beach—a walk away. The “saltbox” shape visible at the south end of the house mimics the shape of the land beyond, directing attention up toward the all-important, meaning-bearing front. Its order is based on localized, but not overwhelming, symmetry. Different but not revolutionary, it fits into the neighborhood because it is based on historic/vernacular forms, relationships, and materials, yet it also expresses a desire for a house that is distinctly based on client personality and site characteristics.

Flat, representational “carpenter’s” columns, shingled arches, and a bright blue door announce the entry. Like the side yard-facing porch, the entry porch is small and cut into the facade rather than added on, keeping the overall taut and sculpted. Only the garage (in a low wing) and the chimney extend from the principal mass. Beefy, white trim boards and fat, flat window muntins emphasize edges and announce the windows as not just openings in the wall but also as an organizing grid. In the interior, a built-in cabinet and bookshelves that incorporate structural posts, a free-standing fireplace open on two sides, and an arcade of plaster openings all separate and define living, entry, and circulation spaces without closing them off from one another. The living spaces have multiple exposures for all-day light. The master suite is tucked in the back corner of the first floor. Guest bedrooms occupy the second floor, as does a game room.