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April 2008


FEATURES

Living on the Edge
By Liz Arnold
Photographs by Chi Chi Ubiña

DUO DICKINSON CREATES A HOME WITH BOAT-LIKE PRESENCE SITUATED ON A SCENIC PENINSULA

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"Where's your favorite place to sit?" The woman who shares the sophisticated beach house with her husband in coastal Connecticut gets this question all the time. "There are views everywhere." Considering that the 3,200-square-foot property, designed by architect Duo Dickinson and interior designer Raymond Forehand, is situated on a scenic peninsula and was influenced by the interiors of yachts (the husband loves boating), it makes sense that the collaboration would set sail with views in mind. But first, they had to navigate some rough waters.

The quarter-acre lot sits on a finger of land surrounded by water. Strong tidal action saturates the soil below and creates buoyancy. Anything built on it could pop like a cork. Dickinson enlisted structural engineer Ed Stanley and site engineer Joe Risoli to help counterbalance that effect. The pair anchored the house with a watertight garage and basement, concrete footing and nearly 120 pilings to support the structure. "The engineering is just about the highest level I've ever encountered for a house," says Dickinson. "It was extremely difficult."

To extend the size of the house but still comply with building codes, Dickinson added porches that nearly double the size of the first floor during fair weather. Cantilevers make the house appear lighter and add visual interest, while rooflets shade the many windows to protect from the elements and from sunlight overheating the house in the summer. Cedar shingles and fieldstone lend a charming, beachy aesthetic.

The architectural sensibility is mirrored in the interiors, where Dickinson and Forehand, who have teamed up on projects before, worked in what Dickinson calls "a hand in glove experience." Interior millwork, designed by Forehand and fine-tuned by Dickinson, is somewhat overscaled. A large newel post accents the spiraling stair.

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