Ask the Pros: Architecture

Advice on designing the perfect home by the bay

How do you define Tidewater style and how did it evolve? What architectural elements are part of this vernacular?
Tidewater-style homes typically include wrap-around porches that are covered by an extension of the main roof form. Usually, these homes incorporate lower pitched, hipped roofs. Historically, they sat on open, pier-type foundations to allow floodwaters to pass under the building. The design is largely a pragmatic approach to the coastal climate found along the East Coast from Delaware and Maryland to Florida, where high temperatures and humidity can linger through most of the summer. The covered porches provided relief from the direct sun and the numerous windows helped with cross-ventilation at a time when mechanical cooling was not as readily available as it is now.

These homes always feel welcoming to me. I think the expansive porches and simple materials are a big part of that. We try to incorporate many of these elements in our work because they help to create a sense of place that our clients feel is appropriate for homes located along the coast and near the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. —Leo Wilson, AIA, LEED AP, Hammond Wilson


Architect Leo Wilson transformed a traditional 1970s split-level home on Mill Creek Cove in Annapolis. He and his team designed three gabled forms as vertical elements to break up the waterfront-facing façade, installing large windows and doors to capture the views. A sunroom addition with a balcony above it opens out to a patio with stairs leading down to the dock. Contractor: Greg Younger, Younger Construction Co., Inc., Annapolis, Maryland.