Beach Baroque

BY Marimar McNaughton

A glazed skybox hovers above miles of unencumbered marshlands and waterways. For boaters traveling the Wrightsville moat via Lees Cut who witnessed the transformation of a mid-century brick ranch on pilings their reward is found in three cantilevered clear glass levels sandwiched together with slices of rusted core ten steel.

Mark and Kelly Batson make no apologies for minting their new idiom on an old Wrightsville Beach rancher — not for the incongruous pairing of silvered lions head door knockers mounted on brick white posts anchoring bullet-holed core ten steel gates announcing their renovated pied de terre at 32 Pelican Drive nor for any of the many splendid ornate contemporary features of this modern baroque home on Lees Cut.

Its rust meets Villaggio De Batsone — the rambling Mediterranean home they designed and built for themselves then sold in Landfalls Drayton Point. Rust Mark Batson says was the theme for their new look.

While painted brick exteriors delineate the homes old sections raw core ten steel and painted aluminum roofing material used for soffits and overhangs herald the new. The idea Batson says is to create a maintenance-free fa�ade.

New steel columns support elevated walkways. Glass panels open exterior stairwells and deck rails to views of the homes surroundings — marsh islands overlooking Kenan Creek to the southeast and the Intracoastal Waterway to the northwest.

Batson worked with architect Michael Kersting to renovate the home and brand the exterior look.

I wanted him specifically because I like his style Batson says. Exposed I-beams are as much a part of the structural support as they are integral to the look Batson wanted throughout the home. The view from the street front features a layered roofline.

That was something Kersting came up with he says. Building within the homes existing footprint was something the Town of Wrightsville Beachs planning department insisted upon but aesthetically Batson says We wanted to keep as much of the look of the old house as possible. You have to work within a certain set of parameters and be creative within that.

Classic garden elements — like plant-filled urns and a statuary fountain — foil metal schools of pompano fish hanging in relief. Ornamental grass plantings outline poured concrete pavers beneath palm trees. Elsewhere old growth crape myrtles and Leland cypress were preserved.

The gardens buffer the ground level outdoor space. Batson says surprisingly it is whats favored most by his family instead of the upper decks he thought would see more use. Its human nature he explains to want to be nearest to the waters edge.

Under a cantilevered canopy of decking material and exposed beams cushioned all-weather wicker furniture is grouped near a studded bar built-in and a sandy fire pit that doubles as a play area for the Batsons youngest four-year-old family member.

Two upper floors are cantilevered above ground in a reversal of the stacked wedding cake elevation typically seen in new Wrightsville Beach architecture.

 Basically the whole house was rebuilt Batson says. The only reason we kept it the way it was was so we could grandfather this ground floor.

The ground floor can be accessed from two points of entry: through the front door and foyer or via the outdoor living area. Inside cozy upholstered furnishings surround a fireplace hung with family portraits. Large plate glass windows welcome the water views that compete with a flat-screened television a project table and a home office suite. The laundry/kitchenette and powder/shower are also convenient to the indoor/outdoor gathering area that may be sequestered behind a barn slider or open to the core ten front door/foyer. The interior stairs ascend to the primary living and dining rooms on the second level and the marriage of ornate Mediterranean furnishings and sleek industrial finishes. The themes unfold to the tune of Italian love songs and dimmed lights digitally controlled and programmed from Batsons iPhone.

The look is a blend of styles that reflects both Mark and Kelly Batsons personal tastes.

Shes more traditional Mark Batson says. I tend to be more contemporary though but youll see this house is a total mix.

Taken from the same quarry where Michelangelo plucked marble for his statue of David yards of Calcutta gold marble veneer the central kitchen island and counter back splashes.

Banks of white lacquered Euro-style overhead cabinets tooled with lift-up hinges open from bottom to top while side-by-side refrigerated coolers and freezers anchor the west end of the kitchen. Walnut cabinets were fabricated by Batsons Tongue & Groove. He and Kelly selected the ultra-modern chandeliers.

Commercial grade storefront window glass meets in corners. Hinged portholes open into the rooms. The finished epe deck soars above the landscape. North light pours into the art-filled spaces. Bisected by an elevated light well through which sun shines from clerestory windows the kitchen and living rooms are subtly defined.

Batson alone designed the floating fireplace from the homes thematic finish materials: wood glass and metal. Perforated niches contain hand blown glass. A faux Mona Lisa hangs over the hearth. Plush furnishings are arranged around a circular wool rug. Siblings share a hall bath and balconies while the parents occupy the third floor aerie that includes a waterfront bed chamber dressing rooms/walk-in closets and a master bath also tooled with Calcutta gold marble and gilded his and hers vanity sinks and mirrors.

Beyond the d�cor the home is as energy efficient as the builder homeowner could implement. In addition to the thermally broken commercial glazing system in which inner and outer frames are separated to prevent temperature transfer and condensation the floor roof and walls are sealed with closed cell foam insulation. A tankless water heating system a multi-stage HVAC system a Smart Energy electrical management system and a system that regulates lighting help maintain a $200 per month power bill for the 4 000 square-foot house.


Resources for this Home of Distinction

Homeowners Mark and Kelly Batson

Architect Michael Ross Kersting Architecture

Building Contractor/ Interior Designer/ Kitchen Designer Tongue & Groove

Landscape Designer/ Landscaping Classic Landscapes

Appliances/ Kitchen Hardware Atlantic Appliance & Hardware

Audio/Visual Port City Sound & Security

Bath Hardware/Plumbing Fixtures Ferguson Enterprises Inc.

Electrician Blanchard Electric Inc.

Lighting Fixtures YLighting

Wood Floor Restoration/Tile Installer Rug Runner Inc.

Tile Supplier Southeastern Tile Connection Inc.

Cabinet Manufacturing Shoreline Cabinet Company and Pankratz Woodworking

Countertops/Installer/Kitchen Marble/Granite Counters Bluewater Surfaces

Closets Coastal Glass & Hardware

Painting J W Painting and Tongue & Groove

HVAC Airmax Heating & Cooling

Pavement/Driveway Pervious Solutions LLC

Roofing Highland Roofing Company

Fireplace Diversified Energy

Furnishings (Manufacturer) Blue Hand Home

Draperies (Manufacturer) Shutter Worx Inc.

Exterior Furnishings Leisure World Casual Furniture

Window Supplier Matkins Glass (commercial glass from Kawneer)

Professional Builders Supply (aluminum clad Eagle)