Five Fine Attributes of Stunning Seaside Homes
Maine's Top Architectural Photographer Shares His View
Architectural photographer Brian Vanden Brink has gained entree into some of the most dramatic, lovely, and downright inviting homes in the world. In his new book, At Home By the Sea: Houses Designed for Living at the Water's Edge (written by Bruce Snider and photographed by Vanden Brink) he turns his lens on some truly terrific waterside homes.
While most people cannot live in stunning seaside homes, they may be inspired to apply ideas in At Home By the Sea to their own abodes. We asked Vanden Brink to tell us about the characteristics that are common to the houses he photographed, and to provide a hint or two about how to incorporate ideas into any home. Here's what he had to say:
1. Well obviously, they all share a sense of drama, if for no other reason than their siting. This affects everything when you are at the house, because you know the ocean is right there. It is always a presence no matter what you are doing. You can hear, feel, smell, and see it. So you always have a sense of being somehow on the edge of something big, beautiful, and powerful.
2. They all share a sense of purposeful design. These houses were put where they are to maximize the experience of being there. They were designed for the pleasure of being near the sea and all that brings with it. So they have to deal with the issues of not ruining the shoreline and the views of others while providing the homeowner with a shelter that is not only suitable for looking at from the outside, but also for living within.
3. They all share a sense of light. As a photographer, I notice this almost before anything else. A thoughtful architect or builder will be very careful to bring light into the space in a dramatic way. Today there are more ways to do this because of technical developments in window design and building materials, but even the older houses in the book have a wonderful sense of glow to them — a patina that adds character, color, and warmth.
4. They all bring the outside in and they embrace the vista. This is a bit different than the previous point. I'm talking about how you can see and feel the outside from within the house. These houses all have some major design element that allows you to easily view the ocean: maybe just walking down the hall to an oversized door, or a widow's walk on the roof, or large windows that are filled with the view, or a large veranda that overlooks the water. There is a sense of shelter from the elements, but being able to clearly see and experience them at the same time. As Bruce Snider says, "they've all had to find the balance between protection and exposure."
5. They all have a sense of order and style. These houses are not chaotic, either in design or decoration. They have a coordinated aesthetic that is carried through the whole house. This does not necessarily mean expensive furniture or accessories. In some of these homes the furnishings are quite simple and campy, but they are stylish. There is a sense that decisions about the design and furnishing were made thoughtfully and carefully, resulting in a house that feels right and looks right.
To read more about At Home by the Sea or to purchase the book, click here.
- By: Rosemary Herbert