Photography by Patricia L. Harman, Photography By Anne Gummerson
There’s nothing quite as peaceful as the sound of water lapping against a bulkhead, geese flying overhead and a breeze blowing the salt air against your face.
The feeling of tranquility one experiences in such a setting almost enables you to forget the stresses of every day life. So it’s no wonder that the owners of this issue’s Project Spotlight have chosen the Eastern Shore for their “home away from home.”
The secluded refuge sits on 10 acres and overlooks the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It was built four years ago by a couple as a weekend house for relaxation and some entertaining. Their desire was to build something subdued and not ostentatious. The result was a 6,000 square foot house where almost every room has a magnificent view of the river.
Robert Hammond, AIA, principal of Hammond Wilson Architects in Annapolis, was selected to design the home. “They wanted a house that felt like it had been here for a while,”explains Hammond.
He began by creating a grouping of buildings that would stretch along the waterfront. The pool house and garage were designed as separate buildings, capturing the feel of the early Maryland plantation houses. Having separate outbuildings also enabled him to add exterior courtyard spaces, offering a sense of seclusion and openness at the same time. This linear design was incorporated into both the landscaping and the architecture of the house.
The main structure of the house is centrally located and includes the living room, kitchen, staircase and powder room. The design reflects the owners’ tastes and is a combination of the Mission and Arts & Crafts styles. The garage and pool house are connected to the main house by pergolas on the rear and a gallery extending along the front facade of the house. Just off of the main foyer is a unique staircase with steps that extend the length of the hallway before turning towards the second floor. The simplicity of the design and clean lines capture the essence of the Mission style. The extended steps include built-in storage spaces below and can be used to exhibit some of the owners’ collections.
The area just off of the pool includes a sauna, an exercise room, a pool table and small galley kitchen, a changing room and a bathroom. This wing leads into the living room / dining room combination-a large space with floor to ceiling windows that offers a panoramic view of the river. The kitchen is just off of the dining area and leads to a screened in porch. Beyond the porch is a family room, complete with a wood burning stove for those cool evenings on the water.
Located on the second floor are four bedrooms, including the master suite which is comprised of two walk-in closets, a small study and a large master bath.
Hammond used two regional roof types to create a split section roof for the house. When driving up to the front of the house, the simple gabled structure viewed from this side disguises the two-story gambrel roof visible from the waterside of the house. The gambrel roof was designed in the 1700s to provide more usable space on the second floor of a structure, and the style serves the same purpose in this instance. Using the larger roof form enables each room on the waterfront side to have a view of the river. To use the same space on the entrance side, large dormers were utilized. “We created an element of surprise as you go from the front to the back of the house,”adds Hammond.
The entire design process took nine to 12 months. Construction took another 18 months. “We like our projects to have a sense of stability and permanence,”says Hammond. “Everything was well-crafted and agreed upon in advance.”
The owners developed a team which involved a landscape architect, an architect for the house, the builder/contractor and an interior designer. By involving everyone early on in the process, it made the transition from one phase to another easier, and helped make the entire process run much more smoothly.
Since homes along the Wye River are fairly well protected from the elements (salt water and air) that might corrode homes built along the ocean, special construction materials were not warranted.
The vegetation growing up the bank from the river was thinned out to expose the view and an environmental consultant worked with the team to devise a buffer management plan for the waterfront property. This included maintaining the existing trees, planting grasses along the river to prevent erosion and regrading the existing soil. The bank was stabilized with bio-logs which allow the vegetation to grow right over the logs. The State of Maryland encourages this type of waterfront development protection and in this instance provided a partial construction grant for the project.
The cedar shake roof and cedar siding give the home the appearance that it has been gracing this site for a lifetime. The clean lines and simple design elements help to further blend this home in with its surroundings. For its owners, it is a quiet retreat in a calm corner of the world.
Patricia L. Harman is the editor of ChesapeakeHome.
Architect: Hammond Wilson Architects, P.C.