Author Archives: Breese

designing a sustainable home on Cape Cope or Martha's Vineyard

5 Key Elements for Designing a Sustainable Home on Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard

5 Key Elements for Designing
a Sustainable Home on Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard

designing a sustainable home on Cape Cope or Martha's Vineyard

Designing a beautiful home with rich architectural detailing does not mean having to forego the environmental benefits of energy efficient options available for new construction homes. Working with a residential architect, your home can provide both beauty and sustainability, resulting in a graceful addition to your Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard property that you will enjoy for years to come.

Here are 5 key elements for designing a sustainable home that is both energy-efficient and contributes to the architectural beauty that is Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.

1. Specify Energy Efficient Windows and Doors

Your windows and doors add to the overall appeal of your home. There are high-quality manufacturers in all every style from stock traditional to modern custom. Windows and doors provide for natural flow of light and air and draw your eye to the most appealing views from your home. It is very important to ensure that you are choosing windows and doors that complement your home’s design while providing sustainability and efficiency.

For example, if you want a wall of windows to let in a lot of natural light, choose windows that have the Energy Star label. This will mitigate air conditioning costs in the summer months. Another option to consider is gas-filled windows with low-e coatings that reduce heat loss, making them perfect for colder climates, such as New England winters.

2. Accenting with LED Lighting

Lighting is critical to accenting the beauty of the architectural choices in your home. Using LED lighting, your bulbs last much longer while still providing a kind of warmth in your home. They can be used in a variety of lighting fixtures. You do not have to forgo style and design to achieve energy efficiency. Consider the LED lighting option for any and all rooms in your home.

3. Designing a Structurally Sound Living Space

Sustainability often starts in the early stages of design when your home is being framed and made structurally sound. It is the relationship of insulation to structure that secures the best thermal envelope. Using insulated panels, for example, solves the structure and insulation in one step. Carefully detailing can improve the effectiveness of heat and cooling. While you might not see these options tucked behind your walls, they are key to the health of your living space, allowing you to safely enjoy your home’s beauty for generations.

4. Designing Ventilation

Part of the appeal of Martha’s Vineyard is amazing views of water open fields and natural woods. Therefore, building a screened porch or sunroom where you can sit and relax is a part of nearly every home. If you are considering such an addition to your home, then it is important to choose sustainable options to increase the ventilation throughout the space. Your residential architect has experience planning the location and orientation of the space. Opening windows from the top down and other thoughtful ideas can make cross ventilation really work. Beyond the shell, consider adding fans or hidden vents that do not detract from the views or the design details of your room while increasing air circulation throughout the space.

5. Choosing Your Wood Stove or Fireplace

Beautiful fireplaces add real ambiance and articulation to a gathering room in your home. A well-designed wood stove can also create a source of warmth in any room. Either feature can be the centerpiece to a room’s design and an inviting attraction for gatherings and relaxation. The atmospheric qualities of well-designed fireplaces cannot be overstated.

Your Sustainable Home on Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard

The regional culture and climate of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard provide a local authenticity and inspiration for your own personal tastes. Using sustainable fundamentals, you can create a beautiful home that speaks to your style while being environmentally friendly.

If you are considering building in the Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard area, please contact us for a consultation.

With more than 25 years of experience, Breese Architects is comprised of a team of exceptional architects and designers that work hand-in-hand with builders, engineer, and lighting experts to create beautiful and sustainable homes for each client. As residents of the island, we know the community and its tradition of architecture first-hand. Let’s make outstanding work together.

Breese Architects Craigville Beach

Unconventionally Traditional: The Design of the Craigville Summer Beach House

The Design of the Craigville Summer Beach House

Breese Architects Craigville Beach

On the highest knoll overlooking Craigville stood a large dilapidated old house. While we all sought to find charm in its finish, strength in its frame and logic in its layout, we could not. So, an all new house, guesthouse and garage were imagined, and a quest for summer living at its finest commenced in that moment. It would be a waterfront compound uniquely suited to the community and to the new owners and their burgeoning family.

New England Traditional Architectural Style and Character

Unconventionally traditional in its architectural style the design evolved, not from pouring through images and plans of old houses, but from an intellectual and artistic design process. Using the specific potential of the geography of the site, a new structure on three floor levels took shape. The face to the beach and water with large open panels of glass and the face to the community with fine traditional windows and pleasing shingle-style forms.

Working It Through

As Cape Cod and islands residents tend to do, a historic review board scheduled a public hearing to see the proposed house before allowing the new owners to tear down the old. They talked with some formality around a large imposing table. After much discussion about the old existing house they finally asked the architect to present the permitting drawing of the proposed new house depicting the facade most visible to the community. The group went silent upon seeing it, proceeded to the vote, and approved unanimously.

Strict scheduling and cost parameters were adhered to as final design decisions were made. The management of so many moving parts fell largely on the New York and New England contracting company Sea Dar Construction. Well staffed in the field and in the office, this very complex architectural design was completed to the enthusiastic satisfaction of the owners. Experienced team managers in their own right, the owners participated actively in driving the progress, analyzing the options and resolving final decisions. The results were exquisite and the final push for summer enjoyment was impressive.

Architectural Style

Breese Architects continued to design, refine, illustrate and detail the summer family multigenerational compound. Four major components make up the residence – a main house, a guest house, a garage, and a pool.

Each structure is unique in its massing and detail. The main house features three different levels on the ground floor. Each wing shifted at a slight angle from the others to accentuate the focused water view. First floor decks and terraces and second floor balconies expand living out into the summer air and sun.

The charming guesthouse is organized around and focused on the pool. The pool terrace is an active room in its own right. The garage is a “T” form in plan with two cars entering at different levels and perpendicular rather than parallel to each other. The central living room of the main house opens through dramatic lift and slide glass doors to a stone terrace flooded with sun and views of the sea. An intricate pergola of tapering depth creates patterns of shadow and light on the floor and walls. The screened porch and dining room become one as the glass wall between them pushes easily and entirely out of the way. The fireplace is a monolith of shaped stone with a traditional tapering form. The hearth is raised and extended to engage as the first riser of wide flanking stairs. Circulation through the house flows gracefully on finely detailed stairs joining three floors. Shapely open ceilings reach up to high mullioned windows and a band of natural light.

Consulting a Design Team

Interior design and decorating was a collaborative effort of great ease. Ann Gallagher blended the impulses and directives of the owners with the logic of the space and suggestions of the architects to fine effect. Finish materials and artwork engage like a residential art gallery.

Landscape architecture and garden design was cultivated by Horiuchi Solien of Falmouth on Cape Cod. In a team collaboration, the effects of transition from inside to outside, pool to deck, beach to shower, soft to firm was developed and detailed. Mature trees and plant material were preserved, rescued for transplant and augmented with new native growth.

Interested to learn more? Contact Martha’s Vineyard-based Breese Architects and let us show you our work on this and other exquisite design projects.

Breese Architects of Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard, and Greenport on Eastern Long Island.

Breese Architects and Interiors Studio MV

Residential architect and interior designer – Which is right for your project?


Breese Architects New England Traditional Architecture
Breese Architects custom staircase
Breese Architects coastal bathroom design

If you’re planning a building or remodeling project, you probably wonder whether you need to hire a residential architect or interior designer. You may have already chosen a contractor, but is it necessary to hire another professional?

Generally, your decision depends upon your particular project. Each professional is trained in their respective specialty, and the homeowner must decide which is better suited for their unique project. Homeowners who live in a community like Martha’s Vineyard are, of course, concerned about the aesthetic value of their residences, and both the architect and designer are well qualified to satisfy the property owner’s desire to create a beautiful home. Architects and designers are creative thinkers, respectively, but each one’s job entails specific tasks. Read on to learn the key differences between residential architects and interior designers.

Residential Architects

Trained in engineering, architecture and project management, an architect has, as a rule, more extensive education and licensing than an interior designer. Because they’re involved in the overall planning process, architects tend to be more focused on abstract ideas. An architect is experienced in looking at the “big picture” and viewing the project in a three-dimensional light.

Architects can plan both the interior and exterior of a building and are aware of the community’s building permit process and building codes. They are highly proficient in planning electrical and plumbing layouts. The architect will also help with limited aspects of interior design, such as ceilings and trim.

Homeowners in the Martha’s Vineyard community might find it preferable to skip the contractor altogether and hire an architect only. You get first-rate service and the assurance that a professional will take care of the entire project, making sure the building is safe, sound and aesthetically appealing. If a general contractor is used, they also can oversee construction administration, making sure everyone involved is effectively communicating and plans are being executed as planned.

Interior Designers

Breese Architects and Interiors Studio MV

Interior designers focus primarily on interior design and space planning, rather than engineering or architecture. The designer can create a lighting plan and help you choose your fixtures and recommend where to place them. They’ll also help you select the types of flooring and backsplashes that coordinate with your décor. Other tasks of the designer include choosing hardware and finishes, selecting paint and wallpaper, and choosing window treatments and other furnishings. A qualified interior designer will always consider the latest in modern design techniques.

Breese Architects and Interiors Studio MV

Which Professional Is Right for My Project?

The jobs of residential architects and interior designers often overlap, and you can be confident that both keep up-to-date on the latest trends in modern design. The type of project will be the primary factor in your decision of which professional to select. If your building project is large, such as new construction or a major remodel, it’s better to go with the architect. If, however, you want to transform an area in your master bedroom into a powder room, you might find that an interior designer can best help you bring the ultimate in luxury and personality to that new room.

Here at Breese Architects, we have both architects and interior designers available in the same office and can work in tandem to provide a one-stop solution for your home improvement and building needs. As experts in coastal architectural design, we’re well aware of what requirements are needed in the area and can help you visualize and complete your dream project, one that is functional and dynamic to your personal style.

We know Martha’s Vineyard. Let us assemble the right team for your job and see how residential architects and interior designers can complement each other’s expertise. Build the right team from the start and create positive synergy from the get-go As we say here at Breese Architects, let’s make outstanding work together. Contact us today!

Breese Architects of Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard, and Greenport on Eastern Long Island.

Breese Architects, Residential Architecture Style



Breese Architects, Residential Architecture Style


From what we see and what we are designing right now ALL of these are “trending up” in residential architecture.

  1. On Chappaquiddick, an island and a part of Edgartown, we are building in an architectural style with a very traditional and vernacular late 19th century sensibility and detailing.
  1. In Concord, additions are under construction in keeping with the Walter Gropius modernism architecture of the 1940s and 50s.
  1. In Aquinnah an all new construction house embodies the very prevalent combination of contemporary and transitional architectural styles. Walls of glass open up living space to panoramic water views while more traditional double hung windows with divided lites grace the bedrooms in this residential architecture project.
  1. Chilmark Pond Residence is traditional shingle style architecture in external appearance with a more contemporary open plan interior.
  1. Great Pond transcends classification of style with a very rustic and yet very modern architecture overall vibe. This residential architecture location uses stone, metal and glass in the exterior shell, and has a timeless “one for the ages” look and feel.

The architecture of your home comes from your unique collaboration with the architect and interior design team. The history and cultural location of the property can have an exciting and appropriate stylistic influence.


As your architect and interior design team, at Breese Architects we want you to be outwardly enthused, and inwardly proud of your incredible new home (loving it inside and out!)

So, while we are happy to focus on the building component called “house” we can already see your custom dining room table and unique swimming pool. In a strictly professional definition we are architects, and as such engineer, design, and detail the exterior shell and the interior layout, flow and orientation of space. And yes, it is Architecture that defines value in an ingenious sensitive response to all aspects of location.

  • Like a beautiful view of the water
  • Like a sloping knoll in a clearing
  • Like a cultural response in an old neighborhood
  • Like a covered bridge or a sturdy dock or human anatomy

ROOF to give shade and shed rain, and hold nothing

FLOOR to provide support, order, and level headedness

WINDOW to remind us to be outdoors and to travel the world

TABLE to share thoughts across and do what a floor does at a more ergonomic height

SEAT to remind us how much we would prefer to stand and admire the design.


At this point, for me in my practice as a residential architect, every location and family brings forth an unavoidably complete vision of home. The burgeoning residence is no more without expressive structural engineering or hidden technology than it is without the dining room table and the pool terrace.

Breese Architects of Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard, and Greenport on Eastern Long Island.