Vintage Vineyard: A Martha's Vineyard Vacation House

Grand yet humble, spacious yet intimate, this finely crafted Martha’s Vineyard getaway has it all.

| July/August 2006

Summers on Martha's Vineyard are sacred for Diana and Roy Vagelos, their four children, their children’s spouses and their seven grandchildren. The members of the Vagelos clan travel from all ends of the country to gather on the island off the Massachusetts coast. “They think summers in the Vineyard are better than anything else,” Diana says. So after decades of squeezing into summer rental homes, in 1998 the Vageloses bought 80 acres of forested hillside overlooking the Vineyard Sound and the Elizabeth Islands and approached a local builder, South Mountain Company, about a house.

The extended family needed space, and they planned to build four houses over time. For the first—the main house—no one was crazy about building something humongous, which would have disturbed the wooded site’s natural balance and displaced several large oak trees. So South Mountain, a group of designers and builders that pays particular attention to how their homes blend into the landscape, proposed two smaller houses connected by a covered breezeway. The Vageloses had their solution.

The first home and a guest house were tucked down into the woods near the water. When it came time to build a third, the family had thoroughly explored their land and fallen in love with a hilltop spot with spectacular views. “For several years we would hike up there, rest and meditate, and think how beautiful it was,” Diana says. “We couldn’t not put the house there—it was just too good.”

While the South Mountain team agreed the hillside site was magnificent, it wasn’t without challenges. “Our biggest concern was keeping the house from breaking the tree canopy above it,” South Mountain cofounder John Abrams explains. “The house would have this wildly expansive view, but we didn’t want it to be too much a part of everyone else’s view from the water.”

“We always keep in mind not just what the family sees from inside, but also what the community sees from outside,” says South Mountain co-owner and designer Derrill Bazzy, who managed the project. “This site was very visible from the water, so we tucked the home’s second floor up into the roof line, and from the water it looks like a one-and-a-half-story house instead of a three-story house. Even though it’s perched, it’s somewhat settled in.”

The water views were down a north-facing slope, presenting another challenge. “It was easy to get fixated on this stunning view,” Bazzy says, “but we had to think about really windy, cool days—about having nice spaces without the view that are protected from rain and get southern sun.”

3/18/2013 1:07:54 PM

Martha's Vineyard vacation rentals may be a little pricey, but I have never stayed in a nicer place. The room it'self was very comfortable and luxurious, and the atmosphere outside is very laid back and relaxing. I look forward to having the opportunity to go here again!

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