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Designing

It’s a breeze

A Provincetown addition preserves a pedigreed view.

By Marni Elyse Katz
July 11, 2010

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Bette Skandalis, a retired financial adviser, and Jo Seidler, owner of a marketing and communications firm, had looked for six years before finding and buying a 950-square-foot

cottage in Provincetown, where they had been vacationing for decades. Then they commissioned Tom Huth, of Newton-based Huth Architects – who had worked on their Cambridge home and then the condo they bought in its place – to expand their beach house.

Originally a single-story garage built in the early 1900s, with an upstairs added decades later, the house is a condominium that shares outdoor space with the estate of famed writer Norman Mailer. As such, Skandalis and Seidler needed the estate’s blessing for any substantive changes, and in this renovation, they took great care to preserve the view from what had been Mailer’s study in the house next door.

One change the estate agreed to was relocating the entrance from the front to the side of Skandalis and Seidler’s house, with a new path built on the shared land. Huth says: “It didn’t destroy the common property at all; it’s still quite handsome, but improved Bette and Jo’s situation immensely.” By diverting traffic into a foyer on the side, the living room became an undisturbed space for entertaining or hanging out, rather than the pass-through it was before.

The town’s historic commission, known for red-lighting many projects, was also on board with the changes. Huth gives several reasons why. “One of the established ways to add to a historic property is to make sure not to confuse the existing structure with the original,” he says. “They should be complementary, but distinct.” The original was a brick building with a shingled second story; the boxy addition is covered in cedar shingles, too. It was also important, Huth says, that the addition not call attention to itself. Indeed, it is not visible from the street.

Finally, since the house sits on the beach, the addition had to be built to withstand possible flooding, which meant elevating it 18 inches above the existing floor plan. Huth included a small flight of stairs between the entry in the old portion of the house and the kitchen in the addition at the back, which opens onto a deck. On the upper level, a twisting and turning staircase leads to the couple’s new master bedroom. “The journey makes you feel like you’re more removed,” says Huth, “adding privacy.”

Skandalis agrees. “It’s so private, yet out every window is a beautiful view – water, green space, sunlight.”

Marni Elyse Katz blogs about design at stylecarrot.com. Send comments to designing@globe.com.

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