Falmouth, MA    2017

Owning a family vacation home on Buzzards Bay in Falmouth, the owners had the opportunity to purchase the home next door in 2013. It was a small home owned by an elderly woman. As the design process began, the goals were light, fun, and easy. “Let’s design a smaller home that we can retire to in the years to come—a new home that is simpler and easier to take care of.” As the journey began, the program grew to include spaces that are nice to have: two guest rooms, a man-cave, exercise space, a sauna, and an art studio.

The landscape program evolved too, adding two outdoor showers to share between the properties as well as a pizza oven. We collaborated with landscape architect Bernice Wahler from the beginning to link the properties and to settle this large home onto its narrow site.

The site faces north toward Buzzards Bay, with frontage on an inlet brackish pond. A large swath of conservation land with trees is an untouchable filter to the pond and bay. These protected trees were a frustration to one of the owners but become an inspiration for the architect. “If we can’t change the trees, let’s abstract them and bring them to the house.” So the idea came to be: trees, turned into columns, leaning, filtering, and—when supporting—they straighten to carry their load.

The site inspired three forms, each holding a function: a central transparent entry draws one to the house, a shed cathedral great room connects the new home with the owners original home to the west, and a long rising shed roof on the east holds the bedrooms and art studio.

The house reaches up to the northwest views of Buzzards Bay, with sloping shed copper roofs. Three large clerestory dormers moderate the southern light entering the living and sleeping rooms, while the soft northern light floods those same spaces through expansive glass.

Builder: Cape Associates
Landscape Architect: Bernice Wahler Landscapes
Photographer: Peter Vanderwarker