At McClellan Architects, many of the homes that we design are located on waterfront properties. These waterfront sites come with their own unique challenges and opportunities. Creating a connection to the water is the most important feature of the homes we have designed. That connection manifests itself in two important ways – maximizing the views and creating a series of places and spaces that support the waterfront lifestyle. The view of the water is the most important aspect of the property so the design should take advantage of every lineal foot of shoreline. Our practice of waterfront architecture utilizes several techniques to create a home where you can “live in the view”.
Maximize the number of spaces that take advantage of the view. We place as many areas of the home as possible in the “Front Row” with the best access to the view. Behind these primary spaces are the utility areas such as closets, stairs, pantries, etc. Dining rooms usually don’t need to be in the front, and if placed behind open living areas then can “borrow” the view through them. A bonus is having a dramatic view of the water when you first arrive at the entry. This is a great way to introduce the drama of the site.
Stagger the interior spaces to expose corner windows. At waterfront sites on which we have worked, there are usually not only great views immediately out front of the property, but also to the left and right. By creating corner windows in each space we can capture the breadth of the view. Psychologically this seems to push the space out in the view where you feel part of the waterfront.
Control of light and heat from low sun and reflected glare off the water. We normally specify glass with heat reflectivity and low –e specification. Blinds that cut the light but still allow for view are also necessary for glass areas that face the water.
Create a second set of year-round living spaces outside that are intimately connected to the inside of the house. In fine weather, especially in our region, you want to be able to be outside and enjoy the sun. Typically we design an outdoor room that includes a barbecue or kitchen, dining area, and living area. By adding infrared heaters in discreet locations, and a fireplace or gas fire ring you can extend the season for being outdoors. Our carefully-designed outdoor rooms allow our clients to really “live in the view”. In the winter, these spaces are still beautiful by framing the view with a more structured landscape. These spaces virtually extend the feeling of the interior space by reaching out into the landscape with decks, structured landscape elements and protective roof areas.
Provide support for water activities. A dock extending from the shore not only establishes a safe place for watercraft but also a place to swim or sunbathe that is intimately connected to the water. Depending upon the shoreline, a small cove for children to access the water can be very handy. We make child coves very shallow and sometimes import sand or fine gravel to create a welcoming and fun play beach. We also believe it is important to consider storage space for all the furniture and water equipment/toys that will need to be put away for the winter.
Properly designed waterfront architecture begins with the site, enlarging the home with outdoor rooms, water views, and water activities. Inspired waterfront home design considers the unique beauties of the site at every time of day and in every season.