Outdoor Living Upgrade in Gloucester



Photos by Eric Roth

A Gloucester home gets an outdoor upgrade.

When steve howell of Howell Custom Building Group first entered the Hunt family’s home, he found a problem: a splintery, worn-out deck that didn’t relate well to the property’s spacious green lawn. The family wanted a different sort of outdoor living space: one that allowed them to fully appreciate the 270-degree water view from their Gloucester home.

Howell, together with architect Seth Rogers, devised a three-part solution: an enclosed three-season porch, an open deck complete with outdoor kitchen and built-in Whirlpool, and a lower-level patio with a fire pit that opens onto the home’s lawn. “Our goal was to create multiple outdoor spaces to be enjoyed in different weather,” says Howell. “Each area connects to a different [part] of the house and works well for different types of weather.”

The three-season room, which attaches to the upstairs family room, contains a dining and seating area perfect for protection from the sun during hot summer days. “It really extends the season,” says Howell. “The family no longer has to wait for good weather to enjoy the outdoors.” The homeowners had the option of surrounding the three-season room with screening, to let in a bit more air and sun, or glass, to protect the furniture when the rain comes in off the water.

“The porch also gave us the opportunity to connect the master bedroom to an upstairs roof deck that provides a private,sunny space to enjoy the outstanding views,” Howell explains. The roof deck, constructed with a half-wall tucked into the roof, lends just enough privacy without blocking the ocean’s panoramas. “With the beautiful views, we wanted to be outside as much as possible,” says Kristen Hunt, the homeowner. “The porch allows us to be outside on a summer night even if there are a lot of mosquitoes, or if it’s raining.

”Next, Howell chose to replace the family’s old deck with a space designed for relaxation, entertainment, and enjoyment of their environs. The outdoor kitchen, which is in close proximity to the interior kitchen, is set a few steps above the main deck, allowing for separation between the deck’s different functions. Howell added a grill, a refrigerator, and waterproof storage for cookware, toensure the kitchen would be as functional as it is entertaining. The focal point, however, is the unique, bar-inspired countertop Howell devised using a slab of blue granite, a stone whose deep color is enhanced by wave-like swirls of white. “The ocean inspired us throughout the project,” says Howell. “This piece of granite was a real reflection of that.”

Howell chose to place the hot tub in the area of the deck that’s connected to the breezeway, where the entrance to the family’s mudroom allows guests to go directly to the Whirlpool. “We wanted to simplify the process for the family and their friends,” says Howell. “We placed the hot tub around the corner from the main lounge area to create more privacy and easier access from the breezeway.”

With the pergola above the hot tub, Howell created a two-in-one solution for the common outdoor problem of sun and shade: “The pergola’s scaffolding design adds a unique sort of architectural interest, but it also lends an escape from the direct sun that really helps on hot days.” Howell also ensured that the site would catch the prevailing winds off the ocean, allowing the homeowners to enjoy breezy comfort.

To ensure that the deck would last many years, Howell used durable, low-maintenance materials in the construction. “The railings and trim are made of PVC and white aluminum tubing—these materials look like wood, but are more weather- and rot-resistant. [They] expand with heat, so we made sure to allow space for the materials to change with the temperature.” For the decking, Howell used a strong, rot-resistant tropical hardwood.

The renovation has allowed the Hunts far greater freedom to enjoy their seaside home. “For the deck, we wanted more space and more activities. The Jacuzzi and outdoor kitchen give us endless opportunities to enjoy ourselves outdoors,” Hunt says. Howell adds, “We wanted to replicate indoor living with all the comfort and beauty of the outdoors.” howellcustombuild.com

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