One of my favorite streets in Oxford is East Strand and my favorite approach is from the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry. As the ferry draws nearer to Oxford, the graceful curvature of East Strand becomes clear and the streetscape of historic houses amid mature trees is picture perfect. Happily, the street is too narrow for parking which gives each house unobstructed views across the Tred Avon River to the shoreline of Bellevue.
On past strolls along East Strand, I have stopped to admire today’s featured house for its quintessential Easter Shore vernacular architectural style. The exquisite front elevation has a screened porch that spans the length of the house. The original turned columns are seamlessly integrated into the solid railing clad in lap siding for seated privacy. The mix of rattan and wicker furnishings are front row seats for watching sailboats gliding on the river and the setting sun. Above the front porch, a trio of windows at the second floor are equally spaced and the symmetry is topped with a gable break in the roof’s eave accented by an arched top window. The exterior color palette of the red herringbone pattered brick sidewalk between landscaping against the house’s backdrop of white siding and black shutters is timeless.
Over the years, the original two-bay, two-room deep house with a rear shed has been expanded with a two-story addition at the rear and a one-story addition that wraps around one side and the rear of the house. Both additions are set back to respect the original historic form. The current owners have left their distinctive mark on the house by opening up the interior walls to create cross and diagonal vistas throughout both floors of the house, painting the texture paneled walls and bead board ceiling bright white to reflect the sunlight and adding lighting to showcase their art collection. When the owners greeted me at the door, I was temporarily distracted from the interior architecture by their collections of Mid-Century Modern furnishings, contemporary art and ceramics. I collect pitchers and I coveted the large brightly colored ceramic mosaic pitcher and saucer by a Polish artisan.
As I moved through the house, I realized each room’s flow, arrangement of furniture and placement of artwork was carefully orchestrated to create a serene and inviting look. The neutral colors of the living-dining area and the adjacent family room focus one’s attention on the art. Both rooms are connected by a wide cased opening and at the rear of the family room, wide and deep cased openings provide views of the kitchen. Infilling the wall openings are sinuous metallic sculptures. The spacious kitchen is a cook’s dream with a large center island of deep gray base cabinets and a cooktop inserted into the granite counter. At each end of the island are the refrigerator/freezer and the sink cabinets. The base cabinets under the wide wall openings to the family room provide ample food preparation space and the sliding barn style door at the rear wall opens to reveal floor to ceiling pantry shelves.
Around the corner of the kitchen is the iconic contemporary round white table and “Tulip” chairs with red cushions for enjoying breakfast with views through two sets of sliding glass doors to the large terrace partially shaded by a majestic tree. The owners repaired and restored the perimeter filigreed black iron fence that disappears into the landscape. Behind the terrace is a deep lawn bordered by pairs of serpentine low hedges and hardscape centered in the lawn to the rear property line.
The rest of the main floor contains a large mudroom/laundry with an exterior door to the lawn and a suite with two bedrooms and a bath. A cozy interior room is lined with shelves and walls that showcase the work of modern German artists. The space could easily be reconfigured to create a primary bedroom suite with its own exterior door. The second floor originally had two bedrooms but the common wall has been removed to create the primary bedroom and office space with windows overlooking the water views. No doubt, the famous “Barcelona” chair in the office space provides a restful break from computer work.
A wonderful blend of historic Eastern Shore vernacular architecture and Mid-Century Modern furnishings, waterfront location on one of Oxford’s best streets and mix of outdoor rooms from the front porch, side terrace and deep rear lawn. If this is not enough, the adjacent buildable parcel is available. Bravo to the Owners for their vision and I look forward to their next property transformation for future House of the Week articles!
For more information about this property, contact Monica Penwell with Meredith Fine Properties at 410-822-2001 (o), 410- 310-0225 (c) or email@example.com. For more photographs and pricing, visit www.meredithfineproperties.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.
Photography by Ryan Prell, 443-786-3693
Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.