Conventional wisdom has it that building or renovating a house can be a couple’s undoing. Horror stories of power struggles, fights over finances, and divi- sions of labor are legion. When the stress reaches a peak, something as simple as electing a doorknob can cause the fabric of a marriage to fray. But Susan and Alfred duPont Chandler aren’t much for convention. “We thought building a house together would be a great way to develop a relationship,”
says Susan, who in 2001, when the idea of a new house was hatched, was just about to marry “Appy,”
the family nickname Alfred prefers. They each had been married previously and establishing “their”
home was a way to reinforce their mutual respect and their future together.
The site for this joint venture was as romantic as the notion. The secluded 15-acre parcel nudging the salt marshes of the Ipswich River along the Atlantic in Rowley, Massachusetts, had served for
decades as a children’s summer camp. When the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn decided to sell it off
a cozy variation on the great room,
the kitchen (facing page) is at one end
of the space and the informal dining
nook (above) is at the other. In between
is a seating area and fireplace. The tall
section of the kitchen’s multilevel island
hides the sink from view. The differing
heights also help define separate work
areas. The custom cabinets are cherry
and countertops are honed granite.