When a couple in the DC area sought a weekend getaway on the Eastern Shore they discovered the charming village of Neavitt and purchased a one story rancher in 2003. The house was a plain vanilla box but the two acre+ property had a view of the Chesapeake Bay framed by woods on the neighboring properties. They had worked with the architect Mark McInturff on their DC property and had admired Mark’s design for his own getaway house in Neavitt. They were confident he could turn plain Vanilla into Neapolitan and indeed he did that, and much more.
The floor plan of the rancher needed more openness in the living-dining area and expansive views of its remarkable setting in landscape and water. The owners also requested a two-car garage, screened porch, pool and guest accommodations. McInturff rose to the challenge and instead of just adding on to the original rancher, he first separated the garage/screened porch/guest suite from the house by a wide breezeway with steps from both the driveway and the rear lawn/pool area/gardens. In counterpoint to the one-story rancher, he placed the garage and screened porch on the first floor with the guest suite above. The two-story part of the addition has a pitched roof with a lean-to shed roof over the rest of the one-story main level. He added a clerestory to the main house for additional light and ventilation.
As I drove up the gravel driveway on the day I visited, the massing immediately reminded me of the outbuildings of the rural Eastern Shore vernacular. The breezeway offers shelter from the garage to the entry door of the original house and becomes a portal to the delightful variety of outdoor rooms McInturff created including the screened porch, stairs from the breezeway to the second floor deck off the guest suite and the pergola framing above the deck behind the living-dining areas overlooking the pool area below. When shade is needed, canvas panels are hooked into the pergola framing. The steps down to the pool area extend over the full length of the deck/pergola and become a “grandstand” for pool parties.
The view from the main house’s entry door is simply stunning and elegant. The open plan of living-dining-kitchen great room now has a pitched roof penetrated by a rectangular clerestory centered at the roof ridge. The clerestory does double duty not only as a source of sunlight/moonlight but also as a vent to draw warm air out when needed. The weight of the ridge beam below the clerestory is carried down to supports above another beam at the ceiling plane of the kitchen then to columns below. Spotlights mounted on top of the lower beam cast light onto the ceiling plane and illuminate the interior architecture quite dramatically at twilight. I especially liked how the wood structure was stained a very light gray to disguise its weight and to blend into the wall and ceiling color.
Instead of spacing the columns into equal bays, McInturff cleverly set the middle bay to align with the kitchen side walls to frame the view of the kitchen area at the front of the house and to give the cook an unobstructed view of the rear wall of glass and landscape beyond. McInturff added texture by adding battens to the walls of the living-dining-kitchen area that stop at the header height of the doors to the pergola deck. Sunlight from the rear wall of French doors centered in the room flanked by pairs of 2/2 full height window allows the battens to cast playful shadows on walls.
As a cook, I coveted this kitchen for its efficiency, detailing and color scheme. The range and hood is centered in the front wall with a square window and glass fronted upper cabinets on either side. At one end of the side wall is the R/F with an elliptical arched top and a deep upper cabinet for storage. The other side wall has two recessed storage cabinets with paneled doors. The rear galley cabinets are white with period hardware and dark countertops. The island cabinets are accented in deep blue with a white countertop for the sink and prep area with a countertop overhang for bar stools below. The ceiling is clad in wood slats for more texture.
The original bedrooms and baths retain their original size with colorful accent walls. The master bedroom at the rear corner has diagonal landscape and water views from new full-length side windows and a pair of French doors to the pergola deck.
Both the three-sided screened porch at the rear of the addition and the upper deck to access the second floor guest suite have panoramic views of the pool set into the beautiful gardens, landscaping and the water view beyond. The thin cable horizontal lines between the trim wood posts surrounding the upper deck disappear into the view. The second floor guest suite with sitting, sleeping and office areas echoes the detailing of the batten boards and the pitched ceiling of the main house’s great room. Above the header height, the upper wall and the gable end walls are painted a deep slate blue. The windows were carefully thought out for the views from within. A trio of the 2/2 long windows open up the rear wall to the landscape and water, high windows on the side facing the main house have views above the lower rooftop, another high window at the front is set to accommodate bedroom furniture and the other side has longer windows for views of the park.
When you compare the original house with its imaginative transformation to McInturff’s own Modernist residence you realize he is one of our area’s most talented architects who excels in any architectural style-Bravo!
Architecture by McInturff Architects, 301-229-3705, www.mcinturffarchitects.com. Design Team: Mark McInturff FAIA and Taylor Borchert. Photography by Mark McInturff Landscape design by Diana Lobien and Jan Kirsh. Jan Kirsh Studio, 410-745-5252 (o),410-310-1198 (c) firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.jankirshstudio.com
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.