Case Study: Floors + Windows + Doors

Marshland Idyll: Mark McInturff designs a Rehoboth Beach abode to enjoy its special wetlands setting

Perched directly atop an expanse of marshland on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, a house built by and for the owner of Boardwalk Builders, Patty McDaniel, was designed for its location by architect Mark McInturff. “It is a remarkable spot,” he says. “With the water and marsh grasses all around, it feels meditative.”

The three-story house hovers over the wetlands on pilings that allow water literally to lap at its foundation. The structure is L-shaped, with the main rooms and master suite on one side and bedrooms on the other. Where the wings meet, a two-story screened porch serves as the family’s main gathering area, accessible from nearly every room. “It’s a corner site,” McInturff relates, “so I was able to position the house to capture the landscape without the neighboring houses being visible.”

Windows by Marvin—all triple-coated for marine use—in a range of shapes and sizes play particular roles in the design scheme. “The bigger windows are meant for looking through and the small ones are for opening,” McInturff explains. “They suit the architecture of the house.” The windows meet at the corners of the structure to create an expansive effect.

While the water-facing façade is almost all glass, the sides of the house that face neighbors are more closed off. Rather than punctuate those expanses of the wall with random small windows, McInturff designed large cutouts that contain windows combined with siding in a decorative basket-weave pattern. The house is clad in cedar shakes that reflect its coastal locale.

Architecture: Mark McInturff, FAIA, McInturff Architects, Bethesda, Maryland. Builder: Patty McDaniel, Boardwalk Builders, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Photography: Julia Heine.

Mark McInturff’s Trade Secrets

  • Be sure to choose a mixture of sizes when selecting your windows, and make sure they suit the architecture. Big windows are for looking through if you want to emphasize a view. Smaller windows should be functional. A variety of window sizes will also add visual interest.
  • Always try to position windows to capture views. It’s important to bring the outside in.
  • The biggest cost line item in any project is going to be the windows. Put them where they will count. I don’t design glass boxes; I put large windows in places where they make a difference and use little windows elsewhere. It’s a question of asking yourself where you want your money to go.