A Waterfront Home is Designed to Stand Up to the ElementsOctober 17, 2023A design team resurrects a Westport waterfront home, making it as weatherproof as it is pretty.Text by Paula M. Bodah Photography by Phillip Ennis
What do you do when a tornado rips the roof off your house, taking part of the second floor with it? The new owners of this Westport home used the rare occurrence, a byproduct of 2020’s Hurricane Isaias, to take a second look at their renovation plans for the waterfront home.
Luckily, they hadn’t moved in yet, relates Patricia M. Miller, who spearheaded the design team charged with expanding and updating the house. The disaster, which somehow left nearby houses unscathed, gave Miller and builders Marc and Joseph Fuscaldo the opportunity to create what essentially became a brand-new dwelling that uses the latest technology for sustainability and energy efficiency.
Zoning regulations demanded that the house, a two-story raised ranch built in the 1960s, keep to its original footprint, but the homeowners wanted to expand the two-car garage. “There was an office in back of the garage, so I knocked out the wall to create a tandem four-car garage,” Miller explains. “It was as simple as that.”
Less simple were FEMA regulations that meant the garage level was no longer suitable for living space. “It didn’t count as a story,” Miller says. “It could only be used for storage.” She devised a plan to move the front door to the second level, then added a third level, working with zoning laws to satisfy height restrictions.
A mix of pitched and flat roofs and a blend of siding materials—a poly-ash composite that mimics gray cedar shingles for the garage and first floor, cream-colored stucco for the top level, and a section of natural cedar that adds an extra dose of character to the entry and the deck above it—give the front plenty of visual interest. The rear has new steel framework and hurricane-proof glass windows, the better to withstand the next major storm.
Inside, the house strikes a warm, contemporary tone with white-oak floors complemented with walls and trim of oak and alder. “Alder is a beautiful wood,” says Marc Fuscaldo. “It’s so natural looking and it works well with white oak.”
Furniture and accents in neutral hues keep a low profile, letting awe-inspiring views of Long Island Sound take precedence. And behind the scenes, InnerSpace Electronics installed state-of-the-art smart technology, earning themselves a HOBI award in the process.
Hurricanes may be a natural part of life on the coast, but this rebuilt beauty will stand fast against the winds for generations to come.
Project TeamArchitectural and interior design: Patricia M. Miller Residential DesignBuilder: Fuscaldo Builders