A Pearl Of A House
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Photos by Jonathan Edwards Media
An oyster shell—where ruggedness and refinement coalesce in one intriguing package—was the perfect inspiration for the 2017 Coastal Virginia Magazine Idea House, the second partnership between Coastal Virginia Magazine and Stephen Alexander Homes and Neighborhoods. From seafood market casual to Oysters Rockefeller classy, The Gloucester, a new floorplan for Stephen Alexander, redefines the relaxed beach lifestyle.
Located in Ashby’s Bridge, just a skipped stone away from Sandbridge beaches, this home is grounded in Coastal Virginia but nods north to Nantucket for a gentle hint of historic nostalgia. Kick-your-shoes-off comfort is tempered by understated elegance; think Jacqueline Onassis on year-round holiday.
Asserts principal, Stephen Quick IV, “This is five-star living at home,” adding that there are two kinds of people: those who already live this way and those who want to. Indeed, you need travel no further than the front foyer to understand that the staycation concept can define your lifestyle 365 days a year when architecture and interior design are thoughtfully married to create what designer Susan Wilson, of Susan Wilson Interiors, describes as “a cottage retreat feel.”
On the exterior, crisp, white trim defines the architectural details and projections of this house with its soft, romantic blue shingles and lap siding, all made of highly durable synthetic materials that mimic wood. The gambrel roofline and pedimented front porch entrance establish this home’s welcoming presence, which is continued around the side to the carriage-style garage doors and faux purple martin house under the eve above.
Tailored curving landscape elements in the front and a paver patio in the back serve as a counterpoint to the home’s tidy geometry, while at the perimeter of the patio, an outdoor fireplace echoes it. Unseen is the highly efficient system of structural panels with built-in protective overlays that function like shrink wrap to protect this natural gas-heated house against air and water filtration.
Though this is a newly constructed custom home with all the contemporary amenities that buyers have come to expect, at every turn, it offers an intentional, but not self-conscious, comfy and broken-in feel. Two materials in particular establish that theme from the ground up: 7-inch wide white oak planks with a driftwood finish and white shiplap popularized by Joanna Gaines on the wildly popular HGTV show, “Fixer-Upper.” Her Magnolia Home furniture line is featured prominently throughout the house where its comfy-classy profiles exude just the right vibe. Stained wood, painted wood, metal and upholstered furniture combine to tone down any too-formal profiles.
Reclaimed wood is pressed into service as rugged countertops in the laundry-mud room and in the culinary space, a gracious serving and display space consisting of a bountiful pantry and adjacent wine bar-flex space. The floors of the family hub are made of durable ceramic tile planks with the look of dark wood. In the downstairs master bath, ceramic tile planks with a driftwood appearance are laid in a herringbone pattern for a fresh take on rugged elegance. Upstairs in the girl’s room, a driftwood wall creates an accent behind the bed while a subtle driftwood-inspired finish even graces some of the closet shelving and racks.
Associated with the construction of buildings like barns, sheds and outbuildings, shiplap—horizontal wooden boards that traditionally overlapped—lends a rustic feel to the design, though a coat of clean, white paint dresses it up enough to bring it indoors where it sets the tone for the relaxed coastal elegance that defines this home.
To achieve the tailored lines appropriate for a more casual, interior ambiance, labor-intensive made-on-site trim details sport more square edges in keeping with the look of the shiplap which lends the family room, the breakfast room and the master bath their unique look. The family room fireplace is fully clad in shiplap, but on the walls, the shiplap extends only to the would-be ceiling height in order to cozy up this soaring vaulted space. White shiplap detailing is repeated elsewhere on furniture, both freestanding and built-in, to help create a sense of continuity: on the family room sofa table, on the wine bar-flex space and on the headboard of the girl’s bed upstairs.
In the dining room, a simplified approach to a traditional coffered ceiling replaces the more formal repetition of small squares with three long rectangular divisions stretching the length of the room. The center section is wider than the sides to create graceful proportions. Board and batten wainscoting extends the relaxed, restrained undertone down the walls of this “formal” dining space. Throughout the home, handsome recessed 5-panel doors recall the 19th century.
Wilson chose a palette of soft oyster shell-inspired custom colors—grays and blues with a little pearlescent or silver shimmer here and there—to gently set off the white shiplap. Where pale blue adorns a ceiling, the room appears to open up to the sky. The generous use of white for trim, doors and kitchen and bathroom cabinets coordinates with the shiplap for a “light and airy” feeling. Even the gray-veined white quartz countertops in the kitchen and baths remind Wilson of crushed shells, with a tumbled marble linear mosaic backsplash and fireplace surround kicking up the natural texture quotient. Wilson notes that another neutral, the wood tones on floors and some countertops and furnishings helps “break up” all the white and gray, interjecting a hint of warmth.