Molière once said, “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” That was certainly the case for renowned architect Patrick Ahearn when he designed the Atlantic Drive Double Gable property in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard.
Ahearn has designed and revitalized more than 140 properties in Edgartown, including all of the homes on Atlantic Drive. This one presented more than the usual challenges. First of all, the new construction needed to showcase “implied history,” as if it had existed for nearly 100 years. Building regulations limited its height to 30 feet, which was difficult because of the uncooperative topography of the nearby dunes. Additionally, there was the necessity to safeguard against the inevitable New England storms by elevating the home and mechanical equipment above the flood plain, and installing hurricane-rated doors and windows.
However, the major challenge Ahearn and his crew faced was in constructing an “upside-down” home that all felt “right side-up.” This goes back to the 30-foot height restriction which meant the gathering spaces and guest quarters needed to be on the second floor to take advantage of the property’s panoramic ocean vistas. The idea was to create a shingle-style island vernacular architecture that would not bring attention to its upside-down nature.
Mission accomplished. The result was this seaside architectural masterpiece that is grounded with the land surrounding it, yet one that permits its residents to seamlessly move between the upper decks to the pool level without the stair systems being immediately visible (i.e., the upside-down challenge). He constructed a family compound consisting of a new primary home with a detached three-car garage, a guesthouse with an attached carriage house, a cabana with outdoor showers, a pergola-covered outdoor fireplace and grilling area, a pool and a hot tub. The grounds also hold a bocce court and gardens.
The main house was designed to look as if it had been built in the 1920s or 1930s (the implied history aspect) and then added onto over time. It creates a legacy of New England’s rich nautical past while adapting to the comforts and amenities that people expect today. Ahearn combined and blended two lots, creating symmetry among the structures. The guesthouse, which has a second-floor ballet studio, was designed as a junior version of the main house. It and the carriage houses maintain the double-gable roofs found on the primary house, as well as the upside-down nature.
Ahearn has a knack for extending the living space of his homes. At Atlantic Drive Double Gable, it continues beyond the walls to an extensive outdoor living room that includes a freestanding kitchen with a two-way open gas fireplace, a gathering area and a bocce court — all underneath a semi-enclosed pergola. It is positioned at one end of the 90-foot pool and hot tub, which is bookended by its own pergola and adorned with carefully selected furniture to enhance its resort-like ambiance. At night, multicolor pool lighting and soft façade lighting work with the lit fireplaces and porches to give the area a magical glow that reflects — and embraces — its ocean locale. Ahearn’s design has inspired an inviting mélange that is ideal for entertaining any time of day or night.
As one would expect from Patrick Ahearn, the interior is as spectacular and bespoke as the exterior. Exposed beams over a beadboard ceiling in the living room add character to a nautical palette of vivid blues balanced by serene white. Everything inside works to enhance the views, including adjustable pulleys that keep the dining room lights up and away during the day, so as not to obstruct the ocean vistas. In the rest of the house, hues of grays, greens and blues mimic the water’s color.
Even the kitchen suits the seaside motif with green tones and driftwood textures. The cabinets and range hood are wire brushed. A one-of-a-kind backsplash (a mural by island artist Kara Taylor) is the focal point of the room. Throughout the house, the design team played with texture and pattern in muted tones, adding bursts of color here and there. Along with careful placement of furniture and accent pieces, there is a comfortable flow from room to room and level to level, as well as an overall complementary relationship between the structures and their stunning seaside surroundings.
Patrick Ahearn has once again given a new home the look of timeless New England seaside tradition.
Builder: Peter Rosbeck, Rosbeck Builders
Interior Design: Andrea Georgopolis and Kellye O’Kelly, Slifer Designs
Landscape Design: Dan K. Gordon Landscape Architects
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