Tailoring each project to the client’s specific wishes and the uniqueness of the property, while in the confines of small lots and strict zoning codes, these two homes designed by Lomer & Meggitt Architects and built by Sharpe Construction reflect a collaborative process between homeowner, architect, and builder. Along a narrow slice of Barnegat Light, with unique and spectacular bay views, both projects show how the collective strength of the architect-contractor relationship and the distinct sensibilities of the client greatly influence each project.
The first house sits not far from the well-known landmark, Viking Village. With views of the fishing village docks to the south and sweeping views of the bay straight ahead, the design process began with the owner’s wish to tap into the context of its surroundings. The fishing shacks, the boat rigging, and asymmetries of the vernacular buildings of the village became the architectural palette for creating a modern coastal retreat. The influence of the local colors, light, and textures guided much of the material compositions, including the combination of rich red board and batten siding juxtaposed with weathered white cedar shingles with crisp white trim. The cable railings allowed for an uncluttered view of the bay while giving a nod to the texture of fishing boat rigging.
The architecture had to carefully balance the quiet areas from the more energetic gathering spaces, while also taking advantage of the breathtaking scenic and sunset views. The peaceful puttering of fishing boats setting out in the early morning for their journey, or heading back to the harbor, make for a wonderful sight from the main deck of the house. A well-crafted, vaulted tongue and groove ceiling flows from the exterior deck to the interior dining room and kitchen, blurring the line between inside and out. With the elevated living areas, the ground floor is the perfect place for a cedar lined outdoor shower and a breezy summer kitchen that connects to a backyard sanctuary.
The homeowner’s interior furnishings and composition of finishes galvanized the overall concept of the house. Many built-ins and custom details throughout the house were handcrafted by the builder, and give a sense of permanence and intention of space. The staircase serves as the core of circulation, along with being a gallery for the owner’s art collection and a spacious divide from the front of the house to the back. Playful forms like the sculptural bike rack at the entry, along with unique finds saved over the years, and an oyster shell driveway are thoughtful elements that contribute to making a unique home.
Down the street, inspired by the natural landscaping framing the bay views along with the owner’s connection to coastal New England and a love of antiques, the second house rises above the tall phragmite to meet the sweeping bay views. It is situated on a typical narrow but deep lot. The use of carefully crafted wood accents contrasting with weathered cedar shingles and striking white millwork hold up to the harsh coastal environment while developing a natural patina over time. The living level on the top floor allows for spacious vaulted ceilings that extend out to a covered deck. A wood-ceiling sunroom, light-filled from wraparound windows, connects the front of the house to the back.
The middle floor accommodates the bedrooms along with a family room that has a traditional maritime feel. With exposed wood beams,i t opens to an airy screened porch, which transitions to the backyard patio and garden surrounding a built-in swimming pool. Exposed beams, wood wainscoting, tongue and groove ceilings, and interior furnishings like caged lanterns, sisal rugs, and a blue-green sea glass tile fireplace surround lend to the coastal aesthetic. A large window placed over the front door frames the picturesque view of the bay as you leave the house. The feel of a quaint New England garden, carefully tended by the owner, surrounds the house and creates the boundaries of a secluded outdoor space in the back.
Long Beach Island is rich with possibility for every new house built. While similar in many ways—like lot size and views—each lot provides the opportunity to create a unique expression that reflects the particular surroundings and the individual homeowner’s wishes. The collaborative process between homeowner, architect, and builder contributes to the uniqueness of every design. Differences may sometimes be subtle, but when taken into careful consideration and built well, they create a one-of-a-kind sense of place where generations can gather over years to come.