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Natural Light Illuminates 1970s Oceanview Kit House

Bates Masi + Architects, Breitenbach Builders

Project Name

Natural Light Illuminates 1970s Oceanview Kit House

Project Status



  • Paul Masi
  • Steve Breitenbach


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Project Description


• Gain space
• Increase natural light
• Give new life to the original home’s intentions


The original home was too small for the homeowners’ needs and failed to take advantage of the water views. “The ceilings were low and the apertures to the view were too small,” says architect Paul Masi. “There was a real disconnect between the view and being in the building.” What the 1970s kit house house did have going for it was its post-and-beam system. “A nice structural system," Masi says, "with great moments, which needed to be uncovered.”

The question for Masi was, “Do we mimic what’s there, or, do we look at what was there and say, ‘That’s the history of this portion of the house; how do we continue the story in a new manner?’” He opted for the latter.

Masi partnered with Breitenbach Builders, who stripped the home down to its framework of cedar beams and joints of raw steel. Masi used that palette to accent what he calls the “primary system for the addition,” which includes blackened raw steel panels normally used to strengthen homes in hurricane areas. Ferra Designs, in Brooklyn, N.Y., took thin sheets of metal and folded them for use as wall panels. “We wanted [the material] to have functionality and beauty,” Masi says. The designers used a perforated version of the panel on the interior stairwell risers, for a dining room light fixture, and in privacy screens inside as well as on the home’s exterior. 

Masi raised the ceiling, using oak for both the floor and ceiling to marry the old and new parts of the home. He reoriented the interior spaces so that when the homeowners are cooking or are in the dining room there’s a visual connection with the outdoors. “It’s a unique view looking over three bodies of water all in a row,” Masi says, “a pond, the bay, and the ocean.” The new design also includes an exterior deck and landscaped space for outdoor living. 

Judges’ Comments

This is a “nice use of materials,” and the design is “brilliant to reference the idea of the original home.” 

“It’s not just contextual in how it looks but in the story it tells. I can see someone coming along 50 years from now and understanding this.” 

The kitchen, in particular, is “stunning—surprising yet functional—and there are beautiful details throughout. The [architects] brought a lot of integrity to their design.” 

“The material palette is restrained without being repetitive or boring. You can look at this house for a long time and still find things that you hadn’t discovered [upon first view].” 

“It’s warm, livable, and elegant but not stuffy.” 

The award entry presentation is well done, “really beautiful.”

See the judges discuss the project in a panel discussion about the work.

Products Used

Countertops: Corian
Dishwasher: Bosch with custom panel
Kitchen cabinets: custom
Kitchen plumbing fixtures: Grohe
Lighting fixtures: Rab 
Oven: Wolf
Paints/stains: Benjamin Moore
Refrigerator: Sub-Zero with custom panel

Click to see the 17 other winners in the 2014 Remodeling Design Awards.


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