in 1906. Plain shingled houses, such as those
built by generations of Cochrans, inspired the
couple in their design explorations.
Their 4 acres are protected by conservation easements, and there are unobstructed
views toward Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic
Ocean. Cochran wanted a tower that would
take in those views. “We began with my
own desire for a tower and a shared appreciation for a simple 19th-century summer
house nearby,” he recalls. But his bride gave
him something more sophisticated than just
a lookout. The second-story master bedroom suite has an elevated ocean view, but it
eschews a silo or lighthouse form. Rather, it is
the house’s key visual element, a vertical form
buttressed by flanking shed roofs that cover
the kitchen and living room and extend out to
become porches at each end. Cochran watched
the evolution of the “roof shapes growing out
of the desire for the tower.” That strong element anchors the house like the totemic central chimney of the Cape Cod cottage.
With its extended sloping wings dropping from the central block, the south facade
belies more complicated side elevations. In
regional farmhouse fashion, there is an accretion of roof forms, lots of simple windows
where needed, plus another long slope to the
rear of the house. This pristine clapboard cottage with its shingled roofs and breezy porches
is a felicitous combination of local, Scandinavian, and Japanese influences.
Two remarkable works of art stand out in this sparsely and carefully decorated house.
They consist of thousands of razor clam shells laid on two shelves in the living room:
one (pictured at right) six rows tall in a bookcase, the other half that height on an
inside window ledge.
What would summer vacation be without bringing home some shells and other
seashore detritus? These displays are not in the same category as making shell
ashtrays or using driftwood to form a lamp base. Sheila Bonnell collected the razor
shells on daily walks along the beach, bleached them, and then lined them up.
This collecting is not trivial: By the act of removing the clam shells from their
natural habitat, the artist has elevated them into an aesthetic statement. The repeated
units form a pattern that is both mesmerizing and mysterious. Like so much about this
house wherein the simple and utilitarian are transformed into the elegant, these
mundane shells achieve a haunting beauty.
design decision Shell Game
despite being by the seashore, the house has only a
whisper of maritime influence. One exception is the
lookout perch that juts out from the master bedroom
(right); Nauset Marine of Orleans, Massachusetts,
fabricated the nautical railings. This corner view
shows how the kitchen and living room walls are
angled to create added sheltered porch space.