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Standing tall on pilings along the Little Choptank in Dorchester County, in a location where gentle breezes bring cool relief in the summer and where waterfowl roost beside the docks in winter, the home known as Windmill Point achieves the ambitious purpose of being a beach house fit for recreation but with all the comforts fit for contemporary living. As architect Christine Dayton says, “We wanted to make it look like a beach house, but one that would satisfy this family’s needs and accommodate how they enjoyed this house.”
This involved several formidable challenges. For one thing, Windmill Point is a rebuild of an original structure that was previously a single-story cottage built within 100 feet of a major flood plain along the shoreline. This meant Dayton had to maintain the same footprint, and any added square footage had to go upwards instead of outwards.
The finished product is about 2,500 square feet of living space towering above the 1,500 square feet where the original cottage stood.
Nature presented its challenges here, specifically in the form of wind and potential flooding. “Wind was certainly a factor, particularly for a house that has a small footprint yet is nearly 50 feet tall,” says Bob Gearhart of Focus Construction. “The property also has a LiMWA, which is a ‘zone of wave’ action, so the building area was frequently subjected to flooding around the house and on the approach road, making the property inaccessible on some days.”
For a tall house with a narrow footprint, Dayton had to be smart about the layout of rooms. The first floor encompasses the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Upstairs, the bedrooms and a game room await on the second floor. The top floor is what’s known as the “river room,” a recreational gathering space overlooking the water.
Each floor has access to a porch. “To maximize the views was a big part of the design process,” Dayton says. “The porches drove a lot of how the outdoors come in on each level.”
The home’s view also served as the starting point for the interior design, almost as if the scenes through the window were artwork in each room, according to Laura Hodges of Laura Hodges Studio. “It was a case of keeping it natural, keeping it calm, and letting the views speak for themselves,” Hodges says, elaborating that she used natural colors and ensured none of the views were obstructed by the way furniture was organized.
To further create a sense of spaciousness, the house has high ceilings—about ten feet on the first floor and about nine feet on the second floor—as well as low windows that make a person feel as if they’re outside even when they’re indoors. Plenty of natural light is available in practically every room all day long.
But even with its airy spaciousness and added square footage, Windmill Point continues to have a special feeling of simple, relaxed, vacation-style living. “That’s all in the detailing,” Dayton says. Details like molding and wainscoting, along with columns and tall baseboards, give the home a more traditional aesthetic, characteristic of what could be found in an old-fashioned cottage. “These elements helped with the scale and proportions of the spaces and added to the cottage feel,” Dayton says. “The house would feel very contemporary if these details were minimalized or absent.”
In this house, enjoying the charm of a beachside cottage doesn’t mean having to give up space or comfort—it’s an escape from the hustle and bustle of the world in the grandest kind of way.
ARCHITECT: Christine M. Dayton Architect, cdaytonarchitect.com, Easton, Maryland | CUSTOM BUILDER: Bob Gearhart, Focus Construction, focus-construction.net, Easton, Maryland | INTERIOR DESIGNER: Laura Hodges, Laura Hodges Studio, laurahodgesstudio.com, Baltimore/Washington D.C.
© Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 2 2022