Influenced by late 19th Century shingle-style architecture, this timeless vacation home rests comfortably at the water’s edge, as though it has stood there for over a century. It perhaps comes as a surprise then, that Ivan Bereznicki met with the clients on a Thursday, and presented his drawings on Sunday. The speed at which the project progressed is all the more interesting because there was nothing simple about this assignment. A short time frame for completion, restricted corridor views that required an irregular floor plan, and challenging zoning requirements involving height and setbacks, defined the home’s design.
The homeowners, who had previously worked with Bereznicki on a city apartment, put forth a thought provoking set of programmatic requirements: they wanted the house to graciously accommodate large gatherings, yet be comfortable and unpretentious when it was just the two of them. They wanted a retreat away from the business world, yet they needed fully functioning home offices. They wanted the interior to be dramatic, but portray a rustic sensibility. And, they wanted the house to be integrated with the land, “not a flashy house in an artificial landscape."
The ensuing design is a magnificent 6,000 square foot home that gracefully nestles into its setting, and is characterized with naturally aging cedar shingles and a cupola-topped stair tower. It is surrounded by peaceful and orderly landscaping, much of it native vegetation. A stone walkway meanders through an allee’ of trees, and leads to a nearby swimming pool that serves as a summertime oasis. The home is a recurrent balance of indoor and outdoor living, and a round, screened porch acts as both a passageway and a respite. The porch is a significant architectural focal point, both from the outside and from within, and features a ribbed cupola ceiling.
Inside the home, and located at the center of the house, is a grand sixty feet by twenty-seven feet by twenty feet high Great Hall, termed as such by Bereznicki, who was born in Austria. "It's the heart of the house,” he notes, “where everyone comes together.” Wings project out on two sides, one with a single gambrel, which houses the kitchen and guest rooms, and the other with two gambrels accommodating an office and master bedroom suite with soaring ceilings. Architecturally, the Great Hall speaks of strength and centuries old stamina. Highlights include a monumental stone fireplace erected of enormous slabs found in abandoned Maine quarries, accented with delicate cascades of small native stone, crafted by master stonemason Lew French. Bent steel arches are clad in sinewy boards of Antique Heart Pine salvaged from century-old pilings in Boston Harbor. And yet, this masculine vocabulary is softened with a warm, feminine side achieved through furnishings, carpets, artwork, custom designed chandeliers and a mesquite floor that is both beautiful and able to withstand sandy feet.