From the August/September 2017 Issue

Design/Build: A River Runs Past It

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Sean Litchfield
  • FRONT | The roofline of this riverfront house includes an “eyebrow” arch, a turret and two balconies.

  • PORCH | White beams break up the bead board on the porch ceiling and delineate spaces between sitting areas without hindering traffic flow.

  • EAST AND SOUTH ELEVATION: The east and south elevations show the complexities of the roof line.

  • LANDSCAPING | Landscaper Paul Forcellati created a planting bed bordering the veranda featuring Stella D’Oro day lilies, zebra grass, dwarf fountain grass and pink Double Knock Out® Roses.

  • WRAPAROUND | A wraparound porch maximizes the outdoor seating area. Plants were selected because of their hardiness in a coastal environment. They include ‘Moonshine’ yarrow, ‘Morning Light’ maiden grass, ‘Blue Wonder’ catmint, and Laceleaf Japanese maple.

  • ON THE RIVER | Just steps from the Shark River, the home is a breathtaking summertime retreat.

In Avon by the Sea, a shingle-style home gracefully stands up to Mother Nature.

Situated on the bank of the Shark River in New Jersey, this three-story home features large windows, a gracious veranda, and two balconies—all designed to take advantage of the glorious view. Christopher Amato, president and CEO of CMM Custom Homes, a design/build firm in Avon by the Sea, NJ, worked closely with Architect Jason Lusardi to create the residence. “We sat with Jason and the homeowner and we developed all the plans and all the details,” he says. Those fine points include not just aesthetics, but also practicalities. “Making sure the details are beautiful and functional is essential to what we do when we bring a plan to life.”

DNJ: How does this home reflect the “shore” architectural genre?

Amato: It’s a shingle-style home, which is rooted in the Victorian style but also takes influence from Colonial American architecture. It has many elements of the “shore” style, including the overhang, the sweeping roofs and the double-hung windows. The structure is built with lots of curves, copper roofs and copper accents and half walls that wrap the outside of the veranda. The Victorian style is reflected in the piers, decking, columns and stairs that all come together to provide a striking grand veranda, yet it still has a modern, open and inviting feel.

DNJ: The copper seems to play a large role in this design.

Amato: Anytime we do a curved sweep, like the one that you see here, we want to use a metal roof because standard roofing shingles don’t work. Because a curved roof meets at a zero pitch, you need a material that stays waterproof without needing any slope to run the water off. Additionally, you need something that looks beautiful from above so naturally copper meets both requirements.

All of the valleys and all of the ridges are copper as well. We also used copper to cap any of the flashing where the siding meets the top of the trim and at the top of the windows. We capped the top of the columns with copper as well. It performs well.

DNJ: What does it take to build a home that stands up to coastal weather?

Amato: In a waterfront location, from a design standpoint, you just need to know your elevation and what elevation you want to be above. The real challenge is selecting materials and using methods that are going to sustain the kind of beating that these houses take. That means wind and salt water and tremendous rains.

The siding we used here is Maibec eastern white cedar shakes sourced from Canada. The homeowner selected the color (Beech 211). A lighter color like this is a good choice in this environment because it doesn’t heat up as much as a darker color would during the warmer months. This siding also went through a process called a “triple dip.” The shakes are coated twice with stain before we get them and then coated again on site. That helps to maintain the beauty over time.

In addition, all of the white trim on the house is made from Azek cellular PVC. It’s impervious to water and pests, so it’s a great choice at the shore. The columns are constructed from fiberglass, about an inch thick, so they will never rot regardless of how much water we get. The railings of the upper decks are also made from cellular PVC. This material doesn’t deteriorate the way wood does, and it looks beautiful.

DNJ: The large veranda is one of the many highlights of this home and features several seating areas. What was your design strategy?

Amato: The outdoor space was built for a family that loves to entertain. The challenge here was to make sure that we made the most of the incredible view while providing space for their large family. We did this by putting an “eyebrow” arch on the front porch, which visually opens up the space and allows for a large table beneath it for entertaining.

Everybody wants the open concept. They want to be able to live from the kitchen to the porch to the family room to the outdoors. But they also want defined spaces. In this house, both interior and exterior, we used different features on the ceiling to define distinct “rooms.” On the porch, we used bead board separated with beams. On either side of the double door, the ceilings are boxed in with beams, so there’s a visual separation when you’re sitting there, yet if the seating area is extended to the whole porch, it still feels like one cohesive space. In addition, the half walls that wrap the outside of the porch double as a defining line, as well as a seat for when guests outnumber chairs and tables.

DNJ: What do the homeowners like best about this project?

Amato: They love the living space both inside and out and, of course, the views. We shifted the living room and kitchen to the water side of the home; so anywhere you look outside in those spaces, you see water. This house is very much “them.” It reflects the personality of their family. They spend time on that porch constantly.

We had a ton of fun building this residence and the homeowners could not have been more gracious, stylish, and great to work with.