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This vacation home's distinctive roofline echoes surrounding rocky promontories, and is also reminiscent of a ship's sail. The design of the decking and balustrading contributes to the feel of holidaying on an ocean-going vessel


Often, house design is influenced or even defined by the environment it inhabits. This is particularly true of vacation homes, where the surroundings are likely to be dramatic or extreme.

Charles Rose, the architect of the house shown here, says its design was very much shaped by its cliffside location.

"Literally speaking, this project is a renovation, building on the footprint of an old, dilapidated bungalow. Although little of the original structure was retained, its water's-edge location enabled the owners to build a holiday home in a setting where new building sites are prohibited."

"My clients expressed a desire for a vacation home with expansive water views and abundant natural light. At the same time, they wanted a house which would offer a protected landscape on the unexposed side of the home," he says.

In response, the architect built a strong, sculptural dwelling that echoes rocky promontories along the coastline.


"The ocean-edge location and oblique slope of the site led us to a design that is markedly different on the ocean-facing northside from the land side," says Rose.

On the oceanside, where the slope drops away, the home offers an expansive wall of windows three stories high.

"The house sits in close proximity to the water, almost hanging over it. This results in the feeling you are on the deck of a large ocean-going ship. The rising, sail-like shape of the roofline extends this nautical metaphor."

On the land side, the house is low and buffers the wind and seaspray, creating an intimate, protected south-facing courtyard.

Viewed from this sheltered side, the sweeping roofline is designed to present a relatively modest and restrained elevation to the street. The scale of this elevation addresses the smaller scale structures and landscapes of the neighborhood. From this sheltered courtyard side, the home presents a more solid aspect. At the same time, strategic glazing still allows you to see through the home's interior to the sea.

The interior's ground floor comprises and combines a kitchen, dining room, and living room. However, when entertaining, the kitchen can be closed off by four sliding steel-and-glass doors. This level also contains the master bedroom and a guest bedroom. The second level contains a guest room and study. The lower level, which cuts into the rocky slope, includes a media room, gym and cabana space that opens out onto an adjacent outside pool.

"As well as a place to get away to, the owners wanted the home to be appropriate for entertaining," Rose says. "The panoramic views, the pool, and the soaring, open-plan living spaces all contribute to this."

Materials, as well as design, help the home sit well with its surroundings – in terms of both aesthetics and durability.

"The lead-coated copper roofs and stainless steel balustrading and fittings are both appropriate to this salt-laden environment. Stainless steel balustrades also contribute to the home's nautical feel, being much like a yacht's fittings. Mahogany is used for the sidings and granite surfaces feature underfoot on the decks, terraces and walkways.

"The green-toned granite is streaked through with quartz," says Rose. "These sheeny veins tie in aesthetically with the granite rock forms the home is built on. Similarly, the sand-blasted concrete used on the structure shows revealed aggregate that also connects back to the land."

First published date: 17 November 2005

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Credit List

Architect Charles Rose Architects (Somerville, MA)
Interior designer Saffron House
Builder Thoughtforms Corp
Structural engineer Richmond So Engineers
Base structure Sand-blasted concrete
Kitchen manufacturer SieMatic
Paints Benjamin Moore
Roof Lead-lined copper
Siding Mahogany
Glazing Triple glazing
Floors Bamboo
Decking Granite
Balustrades Stainless steel
Lounge sofa and chairs B&B Italia from Montage
Lounge floor lamps Powell & Bonnell from Icon
Lounge bunching tables Donghia Furniture
Interior walls Integrated color plaster
Dining table and chairs Dakota Jackson from Webster & Co
Countertops Granite
Bathroom cabinetry Bird's-eye maple veneer
Bathroom sink U 45 Light
Bathroom floors Glass tiles
Master bath tile Glacier Bay glass from Waterworks