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How to design a home that suits your dream property? Architect Jay Madden shares his water-front wisdom for getting the most view out of a killer lot.

By Stephanie Hunt

1. Expand your horizon

Most of Madden’s coastal clients are city dwellers who rarely get to experience a wide horizon, so whenever possible he opts for taller glass windows. “What a luxury to see all that sky,” he says. “The long view gives a feeling of liberation.” To prevent a climate-control nightmare, “angle the house southward to minimize direct sun exposure and maximize breezes,” and use overhangs to shield interiors from the sun.

2. Clear the deck

The Johnsons decided to forgo a central deck in favor of keeping the view of the ocean uninterrupted. “When considering where that outdoor space will be, don’t think of it as just a deck,” says Madden. “It’s the railings, the table and chairs, sometimes the grill, the extra seating. If a big, open view is what you’re looking for, be realistic about what you want to look at.”

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3. Don’t be overexposed

Leave that to the reality stars. The lots on many Northeastern beaches are at such a premium that they feel almost urban. “They’re very tight, so look for ways to optimize your ocean view that still guard your privacy,” says Madden, who situated Erik’s office in a north­eastern corner of the house, just out of the neighbors’ line of sight. Scaling down the windows on non-ocean-facing walls also helps lower your profile.