But one lost battle didn't deter Hutker and Regan. Their combined 38 years of experience working on the island makes them experts in the little things that make a vacation home function seamlessly—nighttime views, for one. “The living room has an extroverted side focused on the view,” Hutker says. “But at night, the view's not there, so you need something else to focus on.” A massive granite fireplace, situated unconventionally with its back to the front door, fits the bill. “The location of the fireplace forces you to enter the living room from either corner, which is a much more dynamic way to come into a room,” he adds. They also understand the importance of views looking back at the house from the screened-in porch or rear patios. “The push and pull of the façade makes it look like a small house,” Hutker says of the varying room depths and rooflines on the rear elevation. “It's been manipulated so you never see more than half of the house at the same time.” And, having realized years ago that most house guests prefer a measure of privacy, they created a guest wing off the main building and a separate, 800-square-foot guest house.
On an oceanfront site like this, proper weatherproofing is essential. Here, 18-inch cedar shingles stacked 5 inches to the weather coat the house in insulating layers. Other materials, like the brass porch lights, were chosen with an eye towards resisting corrosion from the salt water kicked up during winter Nor'easters. Ever-present moisture in the ocean air makes woodworking difficult, since it takes a year or more for wood to dry out fully. To compensate, Avakian painted the backside of each floorboard, lessening water-related expansion and contraction.
But no one's complaining. The ocean's vast presence shaped the house more than any other factor. It's what brought them all to Martha's Vineyard in the first place—clients, architects, and builder. A little bit of bad weather is a small price to pay.
Builder: Vineyard Construction Services, Edgartown, Mass.
Architect: Hutker Architects, Vineyard Haven, Mass.
Interior designer: Gregg Pollack Interiors, Westport, Conn.
Landscape architect: Horiuchi Solien Landscape Architects, Falmouth, Mass.
Living space: 3,800 square feet (main house), 800 square feet (guest house)
Site size: 4 acres
Construction cost: Withheld
Photographer: Brian Vanden Brink (except where noted)
Resources: Bathroom plumbing fittings/fixtures: Kallista, Kohler, and Waterworks; Dishwasher (guest house): Miele; Hardware: Baldwin; Lighting fixtures: Lucid Lighting; Oven: Viking; Refrigerator: Sub-Zero, ; Refrigerator (guest house): U-Line; Windows: Eagle.