Two architects adapt a traditional New England design to fit a family's contemporary waterfront lifestyle.

By Anna Kasabian
January 24, 2006
Brian Vanden Brink

Driving through coastal New England reveals rounded, rambling,shingled matrons along the shorefront. In faded gray and silvertones, their graceful wooden forms blend into the beach palette. Onmisty mornings, they look like giant sand castles atop thedunes.

The shingle-style house―a culmination of architecturalperiods and vernaculars―began cropping up in fashionable late19th-century summer destinations such as Cape Cod, Newport, andLong Island. Heavy stone masonry foundations anchored free-formtwo- and three-story floor plans, while continuous wood shingleswrapped walls and roofs. Expansive porches offered wealthyvacationers shaded areas for family life and socializing. While theunadorned style finds a home on many coasts today, it remains afixture of the New England landscape.

Massachusetts architects Mark Hutker and Phil Regan, known fortheir commitment to the grand old design, set to work planning thisshingle residence. "We tried to take the seemingly familiar, yetintroduce a fresh look," Mark says. The result employs many classicelements of the genre, notes Phil. The two-story home incorporatesshapes such as a rounded screened porch and half-octagonal masterbedroom. "In shingle style, the work is loose, in different formswith different shapes and gestures," Mark says.

The variety of silhouettes translates to dramatic rooflines,dormers, and bays. A gambrel roof tops the new structure, and sheddormers create a place for second-story terraces. First-floorporches tuck beneath the main roofline and wrap the house'sirregular footprint. "When you look at these shapes," Mark says,"you can imagine the rooms inside because the exterior expressestheir nature."

Although the interior shapes reflect the century-oldarchitectural composition, they feature present-day amenities. Anopen great room invites friends and family. A master suite withfitness room gives homeowners a private escape. A trio of bedroomsand baths shares the second floor with a billiards room. The idea,Phil and Mark say, is to update shingle style to address theexpectations of people who buy waterfront property today.

But the spirit of shingle architecture still reigns withoutcompromise. "We know care was exercised in the design and buildingof historic shingle homes," Mark says, "and that makes us want topreserve them for generations. They were heirlooms―that iswhat we are trying to create here."