Water’s Edge – A Unique Vacation Home in a Shoreline Setting

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Water’s Edge – A Unique Vacation Home in a Shoreline Setting

 Elevated above acres of marshland, a unique vacation home celebrates its shorefront setting!

Even as a boy, I  have always loved the water. I especially love living on or near the water and that love also extends to structures and building the exist on or near the water. Even now, although Nancy and I do not live on the water, we live not far above it and from our home we have fantastic views of Okanagan Lake and the mountains beyond. When this article landed on my email I was gobsmacked by the beauty and serenity of this home and the surrounding water and shores. I am happy to bring to you the story of this home and how it came to be. Truly a wonderful experience. Architecture: Overmyer Architects, Washington, DC.  Interior Design: Elizabeth Hague Interiors   Landscape Architecture: Oehme, van Sweden Article originally written by: Deborah K. Dietsch Photography: Maxwell MacKenzie   

Near the juncture of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, a divided  structure appears to float above the shoreline against spectacular views of the water. Reached by a boardwalk raised over marshland, its paired, shed-like volumes are situated at the end of Honest Point, a peninsula in Virginia’s Northern Neck that once was home to an oyster-processing plant.

This remarkable vacation home was made possible by what came before it. “The pre-existing structure afforded the rare opportunity to build on the water’s edge,” explains architect Dale Overmyer. “By law, no new structures can be built within 100 feet of the waterline, so we followed the footprint of the old oyster plant for the new house and provided elevated walkways to reach it.”

The homeowner calls his new dwelling the “Oyster House” in homage to its predecessor. He had spent years looking at waterfront real estate before settling on 16 acres in Lottsburg, Virginia, where he built the retreat and restored the land around it.

“Being surrounded by water was the big attraction of the site,” he says. “As soon as I saw the big, sweeping views, I knew I wanted to buy this property within one second. It’s like owning an island.”

The architect, who had renovated the owner’s primary residence in Georgetown, divided the waterfront house into two parts based on the homeowner’s wishes. “He wanted to separate the bedrooms from the entertaining areas for acoustics and privacy, so we envisioned the main pavilion to be as open as possible and a bedroom wing to be more enclosed and cozy,” says the architect.

Design inspiration came from nearby boathouses and local marine architecture. “I wanted to keep the house simple and stick to the waterman’s theme,” explains the homeowner.

The contemporary pavilion used for living and entertaining is more transparent than its neighbor, and a portion of its window wall can be opened completely to the outdoors. The two-story great room, topped by a fir ceiling, offers water views in nearly every direction. Only the mahogany enclosure of the kitchen and staircase leading to the bedrooms interrupts the open expanse.

At water’s edge, another boardwalk extends past the house to a boat dock on the river. The owner often travels from DC to the vacation property on his 87-foot yacht—which allows him to arrive practically at the doorstep of his waterfront escape.

Numerous timber piers raise the home enough to withstand flooding and provide an elevated vantage point from which to look out over the water. Its two wings are topped by metal roofs and connected on the upper level by a glass bridge.

Two, separate garages allow for multiple vehicle storage and there are suites on the upper floor.

The contemporary pavilion used for living and entertaining is more transparent than its neighbor, and a portion of its window wall can be opened completely to the outdoors. The two-story great room, topped by a fir ceiling, offers water views in nearly every direction. Only the mahogany enclosure of the kitchen and staircase leading to the bedrooms interrupts the open expanse.

Large patio areas provide for outside enjoyment of the property and views.

Interior designer Elizabeth Hague, who worked with Overmyer on Dean’s Georgetown house, created what she calls “relaxed coastal contemporary” décor throughout. “It was important for the all the furniture and finishes in the living spaces to be impervious to the elements, since the glass walls are frequently open,” Hague says.

Inside and outside come together via fold-away doors. The cables are for structural stability.

A reverse look at the gangway joining the structure to the land.

A glazed bridge joining the two parts of the residence. A great detail.

The kitchen opens through a fold-away window to the screened porch—also enclosed in mahogany—that in turn spills onto the sundeck. A rooftop balcony atop the porch offers dramatic panoramas of the river and bay. “When there’s a party, everyone gravitates to the porch,” says Dean. “A TV pops out of the ceiling and we often watch movies there on a beautiful night.”

Another view of the fully equipped kitchen.

A cozy bedroom with fireplace and vaulted ceilings.

A well thought out bath with access to a balcony through French doors. Interesting details: honed slate floors, vaulted ceilings and a vanity with towel storage underneath.

Another bathroom example.

The owner mostly spends weekends from March through October at Oyster House, and often invites friends and family to join him. Guests are welcomed from both land and sea. They can approach the house from an entrance drive on the mainland and walk or hop a golf cart to the house on a 375-foot-long ipe bridge on pressure-treated pine pilings. The walkway extends to the house from a forecourt flanked by two garages with one-bedroom apartments on their upper levels for visitors.

In addition to building new structures, the homeowner revived the former agricultural fields on the property with native grasses, shrubs and trees, following a landscape design by Oehme, van Sweden.

“The existing marshlands along the shoreline were pristine and beautiful, and inspired how we moved forward with our design,” says landscape architect . “We preserved and reinforced their character with durable, dependable grasses that could withstand being inundated with water.”

This vacation home is one of the most interesting projects I have seen and I have enjoyed bringing it to you. I hope you have enjoyed it as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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