Ocean Home

Oct/Nov 2015

Ocean Home magazine is for people who love the luxury oceanfront lifestyle, from home design and decor to world-class beach resorts, villas, hotels, and destinations.

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46 O C E A N H O M E M A G . C O M | O c t o b e r + N ov e m b e r 2 0 1 5 and that he lied at age 15 to get a job in an architectural firm – Finlay now heads up an award-winning office of 30 design professionals. e firm has restored historic structures, designed new houses based on venerable landmarks, created equestrian estates and clubhouses for some of the best- known golf and country clubs as well as designed private homes in some of America's most desirable zip codes. Originally from Kansas City, Mo., Finlay moved to New Canaan, Conn., the site of one of architecture's modernist monuments, Philip Johnson's Glass House. Finlay studied structural engineering and architecture, culminating his education with six months' study in Europe. "at's where I learned about proportion," he says. "It's the secret. When you walk into a room and it feels good, it's because the proportions are right." His design inspirations include Wilson Eyre and the venerable firm of McKim, Mead & White. "So much was happening at the turn of the 20th century that architecture was explosive," Finlay explains. "Some of the best houses in the United States were built between 1895 and 1925. ey are modern inside but have beautiful traditional exteriors." It's an apt description for this Nantucket home, which fits seamlessly into the island's historic fabric while suiting the needs of a thoroughly modern family. Nantucket grew rich in the first half of the 19th century as the capital of America's whaling industry. When the advent of kerosene made whale oil obsolete, the island entered into a long economic decline, leaving its superb Federal and Greek Revival buildings undisturbed until, in the middle of the 20th century, vacationers rediscovered the place. In the face of intense development pressure, Nantucket's legislators took the unusual step of landmarking the entire island, turning all construction approvals over to the Nantucket Historic District Commission. e height regulation keeps buildings to 28 feet or less; houses must have pitched roofs, not flat ones, and they must be clad in unpainted shingles that weather to a soft grey – hence the island's nickname, "e Grey Lady." "e other major challenge," Finlay adds, "is that the vegetation surrounding the house, like so much on Nantucket, is eight feet tall." To provide panoramic views of the ocean beyond the natural landscape, Finlay devised a 4,500-square-feet house with living spaces occupying the upper level while en suite bedrooms and a billiards room are located on the first floor. e gambrel roof makes for more space on the upper level, he explains, while its gentle bell shape meets historic-minded building codes. is second story contains a spacious and dramatic great room with a native fieldstone fireplace wall, a kitchen centered around a brick fireplace and hearth and a ladder leading up to the rooftop widow's walk and its breathtaking views of the island. A series of trusses along the great room's ceiling support its soaring height and expanse of space. "Inside this very traditional house is a commercial building's steel frame," Finlay explains. Traditional elements include beaded and butted board sheathing on interior walls. "e bead board is a classic New England building material," the architect says. "Butted board is an old southern house detail. I wanted a different feel when you walk upstairs and the wall finish changes. e fir flooring is also southern in origin, a nod to the family's roots," he adds. "We met some years ago and just clicked," Finlay recalls of the beginning of his relationship with these clients. "We've since worked together on some very nice houses in Virginia, Connecticut and the Caribbean." Confessing that he always wanted to be an architect – THE DETAILS For more information, visit markfinlay.com. Coasting Living by design Top architect Mark Finlay designed the living spaces on the upper level and the en suite bedrooms on the first floor to make the most of the spectacular ocean views. M A R K F I N L AY PHOTOGRAPHS BY WARREN JAGGER, FINLAY PORTRAIT BY ROSALIE O'CONNOR

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