The cover of Designs For Living, a book lavishly illustrating the houses of master architects Robert A M Stern, features a tantalising roundel section of an amazing waterside house. But the real thing is better.
Most houses get something right, be it location, size, scale, design, interior or landscaping. It is rare that a house gets more than a few of these things right. Mishaum Point seems to get everything right.
First comes the location, a point of land at the end of a long bony finger stretching out into Buzzards Bay on coastal Massachusetts below Cape Cod. This is not a body of water that stretches into blue infinity by day and endless inky black by night. Instead, surrounding it is a ribbon of far-off headlands and islands which provides a perfect frame to this seascape.
The house was created just for this situation with clever vision and sound intent. It is quite a large house but it doesn’t feel like it. That’s part of the magic. The scale and use of space are thrilling. The exterior is vernacular Cape Cod with a gambrel or mansard main roof and gables, a fabulous, flared, flattened cupola, and mixed stone and shingle elevations that have windows, windows, windows. With everything to see without and nobody for miles to see within, why not?
The interior design takes into account every direction of the compass ensuring that all rooms, including the bathrooms, have spectacular vistas. I loved the long enfilade which, acting as an axis, spans the house and has water views at each end, and I adored the reading room at the top of the house, a bookish eyrie with panoramic views in which to spend some time with an author or find words of one’s own. Nancy Lancaster the celebrated Virginian interior designer asked of a room, does it read well? All the rooms at Mishaum Point read well.
The gods had decreed, on the day I went, that the weather should be perfect. Under a cloudless sky a gentle breeze flowed through the house taking the edge off the July heat. The only sounds were the gentle lapping of waves on the rocky shore and summer birdsong among the splendid, butterfly-rich wildflower borders.
Wide verandas overlook the bay, as does the infinity pool. I’ll leave it to the beautiful photography and video to illustrate the look further and the website to list the splendid accommodation and features. It is better for me to mention that some houses compete in local and regional markets. This house goes far beyond that – especially as with the correct permissions one may even be able helicopter to and from lower Manhattan as the mood or market takes you. This home is in a national and even global league of its own where location and architecture are both of such an extraordinary standard and relationship to one another that few are equal – never mind better. I have no doubt this is the real point of Mishaum Point.