February 2016, Vol. 16 Issue 02
Native New Yorkers, the Merola family have long held a tradition of spending summers in Rhode Island. When they learned the costs of renovating their existing cottage would significantly outweigh the benefits, they instead opted to build new. The result—a distinctively modernist box structure clad in milled slats of charred, brushed, and oiled cypress manufactured by Delta Millworks—sits nestled within the marshy landscape of Quonochontaug Pond.
The vacation home that Chris and her husband, Andrew Merola, commissioned from Brooklyn-based Bernheimer Architecture isn’t what you’d expect to see when tooling around the marshy coastal plains of South County. The rectilinear black box—oriented on an east–west axis, along the shore of Quonochontaug Pond—only reveals its rich and varied texture up close: Cypress boards charred using the Japanese shou-sugi-ban method subvert the pattern of gray shingle siding found throughout the region. Despite its discernible deviations from the local vernacular, however, the house’s effect is hardly jarring. “When you’re coming in from the water,” Chris says, “it’s just this little square! It’s not a loud house; it sits there quietly.”