By Carolyn Weber. The combination of excellent design and an equal level of craftsmanship made this 2,600-square-foot vacation home a winner. The exterior's natural materials and deep green trim color complement the landscape on the waterfront site. "The clients wanted a home that fit into the area, but not a big fancy house," says architect James Estes, who chose board and batten siding, a standing-seam copper roof on the porch, and red cedar shingles for easy maintenance. "The unique thing is that it's reasonably sized and has extremely high-quality materials. We focused on getting it right rather than making it big and showy."
The inside is equally strong--as light-filled interiors show off the exposed structural fir beams. The core of the house, both literally and figuratively, is a massive fireplace. Crafted from Pennsylvania fieldstone with lintels and a hearth of blue stone, it serves as a gathering place for family and friends. Slabs of blue stone that climb one side of the fireplace, mimicking a ship's ladder, lead to a loft above the living room. "We had to get a building variance to do it," says Estes of the steep steps. "The owner tells kids that the stairs' purpose is to teach them how to be careful."
The separate but equal floor plan allows the living and dining rooms to take advantage of waterfront views and plenty of public space, while four equal-sized bedroom areas afford privacy. The ultimate mix of public and private space is the two copper outdoor showers that are accessed from the first-floor master bath and the second-floor guest bath. "In the summer, life moves outdoors," says Estes. "And this is the first double-decker shower we've ever used." Category: Custom Home, less than 3,500 square feet; Entrant/Architect: Estes/Twombly Architects, Newport, R.I.; Builder: Highland Builders, Tiverton, R.I.; Landscape Architect: Martha Moore, Tiverton