Michael Rixon

Project info

Architect: Robert J. Carty / TMS Architects, Portsmouth, N.H. 
Contractor: Lee Dellicker / Windover Construction, Manchester, Mass. 
Interior Design: Cebula Design, Newburyport, Mass.


• Make this home more modern and functional while maintaining its historical charm • Connect the circa 1920s addition to the outdoors


Slideshow: Improving the View

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Grand Award: Historically Sensitive Renovation over $300,000

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This oceanfront home was originally built in the 1890s and added onto in the 1920s. “Each area required a unique approach to meet the client’s needs and retain visual continuity for the entire estate,” says architect Robert Carty. With its 270-degree views of ocean and harbor, “it’s probably the most spectacular site we’ve ever worked on.”

Carty, along with project manager Jason MacPherson and site supervisor Dustin Corbett from Windover Construction, touched every part of the home, inside and out. Using old photos taken in the 1920s and ’30s that they found in the basement, they were able to see what the home had looked like in its heyday.

The existing home had been added onto and “updated” over the years: cheap windows had been installed in the 1980s; shutters had been removed; and either by intention or because of weather, many exterior details had eroded. Replacement windows have diamond-pattern muntins common to the era. The design team added trim and crowns around the windows and hung real shutters. They replaced the roof and redid the siding using cedar shingles.

Originally, the 1890s portion was the main living area. The 1920s portion was built for staff and guests and had few windows and almost no ocean view. “It looked like an appendage to the stately home,” Carty says.

To make the space more usable, the team gave it a new, double-height entryway and removed the warren of small rooms, redesigning the interior as an open concept. An archway bridges the two large masses so “you don’t feel as if you’re going into a completely different house,” Carty says. The coffered ceiling, columns, and panel molding all serve to connect the updated 1920s-era addition with the more traditional 1890s section.

Judges’ Comments

This is “quite a transformation," the judges said. "They brought it back to what it should have looked like … letting the house be what it wants to be. They turned it into a beautiful house. The interior and craftsmanship are nicely done. It’s very successful.”


Bathroom plumbing fixtures: Kohler, American Standard, Toto
Bathroom cabinets: Mottl Builders & Cabinetry, custom
Brick/masonry products: Rockport granite/bluestone
Countertops: Granite (carnival Brazil, black mosaic, kozmus Brazil, frappuccino, absolute black)
Dishwasher: GE
Entry doors: Timberline, custom
Fireplace or wood stove: Birmingham
Flooring: ceramic, marble, wood
Garage doors: American Door
Hardware: Trustile
Interior doors: Trustile
Kitchen cabinets: Mottl Builders, custom
Lighting fixtures: Juno, Brass Light, Visual Comfort
Oven: GE
Paints/stains: Benjamin Moore
Refrigerator: GE
Roofing: CertainTeed Landmark Woodscape Premium, copper and asphalt
Siding: white cedar
Windows: Marvin Ultimate
Other: Lutron Lighting system