Feature Project: Austin Patterson Disston Architects - Southport, CT
& Quogue, NY
The site of Dynamic's feature home of the month overlooks Noroton Harbor in Darien, Connecticut, where boating activities abound often through all but the coldest months and have done so since the late nineteenth century when summer residents built homes. Architect McKee Patterson, AIA, of Austin Patterson Disston Architects in Southport, Connecticut and his clients settled on a Shingle Style house as it recalls the relaxed and gracious early 20th century seaside life. “They wanted the house to feel timeless, generous but not overly grand,” says architect McKee (Mac) Patterson.
Porches grace the front and side entrance. Two second floor porches call for lounging. Built-ins and window seats encourage reading and gazing out at the water. Indoor and outdoor spaces draw family members and friends together in informal, friendly groupings. Round and oval ornamental windows grace the home’s front façade.
The property itself forms a large L on a potentially awkward corner site. But Patterson used the prominent corner site and sustainability concerns to dictate the concept of a series of buildings instead of one large residence. The main house is 5,900 s.f. with two adjoining outbuildings: the pool/guest house (730 s.f.) and garage with playroom above (900 s.f.). Though the neighborhood of both large and more modestly sized homes could have dictated a large residence, Patterson chose to divide the program, placing the property in a historical vernacular of farmhouse with barn and outbuildings. The outbuildings themselves along the side street allow for private poolside and garden site interiors, buffered from the street. Divided guest and entertaining spaces require HVAC only when needed, producing, along with other construction elements used, an environmentally conscious site. “We worked on keeping the major trees and shoehorned the house in,” notes Patterson.
Materials and detailing on the exterior and interior also take their cue from the early 20th century, approaching these traditions with an openness that creates a vibrant design esthetic. A driveway of crushed sea shells leads to the main entrance of this house of Alaskan yellow shingle with a thin-stone base. This use of stone is carried through in the stone walls that create outdoor spaces between the garage and main house, the pool area and the guest house façade. The thin-stone’s delicate demeanor allows other textures - board and batten garage façade, the shingles themselves, metal porch railings - to shine equally. The stone defines the outdoor terrace complete with an extensive barbeque area with smoker, gas grill and wood-burning barbeque grill as well as the large stone fireplace.
The interior spaces meet the homeowners request for both formal and informal spaces. “There is a purposeful progression of textures from formal to informal,” notes the architect. The paneled foyer, library, office and dining room with painted coffered ceiling are the formal rooms, while the living room with its mahogany bar, rustic thin-stone fireplace and more detailed ceiling makes the transition to the house’s more informal spaces. The full bar with seats in the living room was a request from the husband. “It presented a design challenge,” says Patterson. “I’ve never had to put a full-on bar in the middle of a room.” The kitchen and breakfast areas feature exposed wooden beams unpainted American clay walls and broad painted wooden wainscoting. It is more rustic than the rest of the house and takes full advantage of water views. An island and a bar/pantry area allow plenty of prep space and room to chat with the cook. “If they have friends coming over they want people to feel like they can hang out in the kitchen and be a part of it all,” explains Patterson.
Austin Patterson Disston Architects
376 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT 06890
McKee Patterson, AIA