The heart of the home

A Rye home’s addition opens the interiors up to the natural environment.

This airy, open-concept addition in Rye brings the outdoors into the kitchen and adjacent living areas. Homeowners Joe and Julie Tucker worked closely with architect William Soupcoff of TMS Architects in Portsmouth as well as a talented group of designers and artisans to build a space that suits their needs and love of nature.

To be present in Joe and Julie Tucker’s addition is a deeply satisfying experience. It is a place that brings the outdoors in and the indoors out. Visitors can soak in the sunshine, listen to birds sing, feel a soothing cross breeze, spot wildlife and enjoy a meal from a finely designed interior perched on top of a landscaped knoll, the property’s highest elevation.

The creation of this airy oasis was long awaited and needed. “The last time the house was remodeled was more than thirty years ago,” Joe says. “The rooms were tired and outdated. We wanted to modify the house’s structure and the way we lived.”

Maximizing the home’s views was equally important. “The property is fairly expansive in the back,” Joe says. “We have about three and a half acres of land, a barn, a neighboring orchard, and lots of wildlife and domestic animals, so we wanted to have a lot of glass and a panoramic view of the property.”

Julie adds, “I wanted large windows so it feels like you’re outside.”


The homeowners selected silestone countertops—a manmade material—for the anti-bacterial benefits. “Silestone does not have any pores, and it will not stain,”
Joe Tucker says. “It also has the same look of white Carrara marble.”

To bring their ideas to life, the Tuckers turned to William Soupcoff, AIA, of TMS Architects in Portsmouth. Both Soupcoff and Joe—a notable builder and owner of Tucker Associates Building Contractors in Rye—have years of experience in residential renovation and design. “Most of the homes I build are TMS’s designs,” Joe says. “We have collaborated very closely before, and we did so again on this addition.”

Soupcoff enjoys working with Joe, and says he is very respectful of design and what an architect brings to the process. “He is probably the best of the best in terms of standards and quality,” Soupcoff says. “It is very enjoyable working with someone with high standards.”

Together with Justin Knowlton of TMS Architects who served as project manger, they created and built a stunning open-concept addition—consisting of a kitchen full of state-of-the-art appliances plus a comfortable sitting and dining area—that perfectly integrates the rest of the house; an outdoor patio; and surrounding scenery. High ceilings, large windows and glass doors bring in an abundance of natural light while also offering 180-degree views to the outside. “Joe and Julie wanted this to be a gathering place—an open space for entertaining and spending most of their awake hours,” Soupcoff says. “It is by far the heart of the home.”

Connecting with nature

The addition’s large glass doors open to a beautiful stone patio, a picturesque place for relaxing and entertaining. It is also a space that seamlessly bridges the structure to nature. “The flow is nice from the living spaces down the steps to the patio then down another set of steps to the surrounding yard,” Joe says.

Both the patio and steps are made of schist—a hard stone quarried in Jefferson, Maine. “This stone has a beautiful, swirling blue-green color just like the ocean,” Joe says. “Not only did we use it on the patio, where it has a thermal finish, but we also used it inside for the fireplace surround, where it has a highly polished finish.”

Elliott, the Tuckers’ Labrador retriever, is right at home in the addition’s cozy sitting area. Landscape paintings by artists of the Hudson River School decorate the space throughout. Cebula Design in Newburyport, Massachusetts, helped with the interior design.

Equally striking is the chimney. Its keystone adds architectural interest while its playful arrangement of brick and natural stone provides a stunning sculptural element to the surrounding topography. “We liked the concept of the house and the chimney growing up from out of the landscape,” Soupcoff says.

To reconfigure and enhance the outdoor space, Joe credits two subcontractors. Michael del Sesto, owner of Hayden Hillsgrove Stone Masonry, Inc. in Moultonborough, worked on the patio’s configuration and material selection; Dan Provost, of Daniel Provost Landscape Contractors in South Hampton, guided the landscape and garden design. Natural boulders surrounding the patio help retain the soil and add a sense of scale; colorful containers and verdant plantings add color and texture.

Other exterior features include mahogany windows, Azek trim, white cedar shingles and a ribbon cart-path driveway. The addition also has pronounced roof overhangs, a standard architectural detail Soupcoff likes to include in his projects throughout New England. “There are a lot of advantages,” he says. “A pronounced overhang will deflect radiant energy and prevent overheat; get water runoff away from the building; and make it possible to have the windows open during a light rainstorm.”

A simple, open space

Perched atop the highest elevation on the property, the interior spaces have sweeping views to the outside. The use of schist and natural boulders creates a beautiful bridge from the building to nature.

A soothing color palette, comfortable furnishings, and rift and quartersawn red oak flooring make for a calm, open and unified interior space. “The paint colors and furnishings are very much influenced by the architectural design and the outside scenery,” says interior designer Michael Cebula of Cebula Design in Newburyport, Massachusetts, who helped the Tuckers with surface finishes. “The wall color we chose—Benjamin Moore’s Homestead Green—was the color we thought spoke best to the outside.”

Cebula also selected custom-made furniture from Baker Furniture and a Tufenkian rug—a “beautiful and durable piece,” he says—that offers the Tuckers’ Labrador retriever, Elliott, a cozy place to rest by the fireside.

For the kitchen, Julie wanted plenty of workspace and storage. Stainless-steel Miele appliances, a Carrara marble backsplash from Portico Fine Tile in Greenland and white silestone countertops give this all-white kitchen the desired “simple and clean” look and keep the surfaces streamlined.

For easier accessibility to pots, pans and plates, the Tuckers opted for more drawers than doors; they asked Jon Lummus, owner of Islington Mill Furniture in Portsmouth, to craft the custom-built maple cabinetry, painted in Benjamin Moore’s Winter Snow. Lummus suggested and installed a three-drawer corner cabinet —a lazy Susan alternative—that Julie absolutely loves.

Overall, the kitchen is an all-inclusive space. “I love that I can cook for company while in full view of the sitting and dining area,” Julie says. The kitchen sink was purposely placed in the corner so people could sit at the counter. Other friendly faces can be enjoyed, too. “The location of the sink gives me a perfect view of our goats while I do the dishes,” Julie says.

Favorite features

The Tuckers couldn’t be happier with their new space. “It is the best place to sit and read in the evening with a fire in the winter or with all the large windows open in the summer,” Julie says. “I love the colors and all the windows. This addition is everything I dreamed of.”

Joe says he is a fan of the large windows as well. “But really my favorite thing about this addition is how much my wife loves and enjoys it.”   

Categories: Architecture and Interiors, Kitchen Designs