At Home: Streaming Live
Talk about going with the flow. This super-sleek house banishes frills to better highlight its primary asset — a drop-dead, gorgeous riverfront site.
A steel-rimmed stairwell ushers light into yesterday’s foundation — now guest central with twin bedrooms and a sitting area. Bleached walnut surrounds the slate fireplace.
The dwelling’s height places viewers — sitting or standing — at the exact elevation for maximum views. The cool coffee table is by Cusack Design, Somerville.
The design consists of two low-bar buildings with the main living space generated between. Gardens rim the grilling deck on the entry side (left), while a high-performance ten-foot-high by eighty-foot-long wall of glass captures the river on the formal flipside (right). Landscape architect Doug Reed devised the terraced lawn to evoke waves.
We’re not the first to have noted a tour here is like a cruise. In lieu of steps, a ramp — functional but fanciful in its nautical connotation — leads up to the door. And already as you approach, through the glass, water is revealed. “It’s all about the river,” says architect Will Ruhl of the Boston-based firm Ruhl Walker. “From the beginning, the owners and I thought of the house as a boat. The ramp is our overt nod to a dock.” So heady is the bon-voyage vibe it’s difficult to fathom why the saltbox that originally claimed this Westport, Massachusetts, spot turned its back on the view. But never mind. The clever owners — Richard Guidelli of Somerville, Massachusetts-based Gilman Guidelli and Bellow custom builders (the firm handled the home’s construction) and his wife, Susan Schlesinger — met the challenge. Their skilled renovation (read: miraculous transformation) has forged a modern home that sails as smoothly for two as it does for crowds of friends who regularly converge.
Interior designer Diane Cramphin specified the home’s glorious finishes, including bleached walnut for the cabinets made by Olive Square Kitchens, Somerville. Counters are Caesarstone. Floors throughout are custom-stained, wide-plank ash.
Practicality is at the design’s heart, Ruhl explains. In addition to looking good, the house had to work. Interior designer Diane Cramphin of the Westport firm Oblio Design also came onboard to lend a hand along with Cambridge, Massachusetts, landscape architect Doug Reed of Reed Hilderbrand Associates. The talented coconspirators held their meetings over wine-graced meals expertly cooked (we’ve heard the glowing reviews) by Guidelli. “They were all friends. I was the newcomer crashing the party,” says Ruhl. “It was a treat to come into their family.” The congeniality furthered the design process and set in motion today’s serene ambience, too.
A painting by Westport artist Susan Strauss rests beside the owners’ bed.
Forget froufrou ornamentation. The emphasis is on meticulous craftsmanship. “The true beauty of the place is its simplicity,” says Guidelli. “When you simplify, though, everything has to be precise.” The master bedroom’s storage wall and floating night stands (above) are contrived as flawlessly as Guidelli’s office shelves. And in sync with the setting, the architecture conjures light and air at every opportunity. A floor-to-ceiling window (right) frames an unexpected Japanese-like feature: rain cascading through a roof drain douses a steel-framed bed of river rocks just beyond the glass. Still, the best testament to the success of this every-inch-counts, reborn home is the owners’ happy sense of well-being. “Every time we open our door,” Guidelli recounts, “we remark how, for us, this is the perfect house.”