37 Newbury Neck Road, Newbury
Year built: Completed in 2005
Square feet: 4,349
Baths: 2 full, 2 half
Taxes: $7,907 (2020)
Visionary environmentalist Rachel Carson once wrote effusively about Parker River Wildlife Refuge, including its Great Salt Marsh — some 3,000 acres of grassland and creeks hugging the Atlantic Ocean that is beloved by birds, insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and (two-legged) mammals.
“Look carefully out over the marshes and you are sure to be rewarded with some sort of heron, standing motionless in the manner of herons — a good camera shot if you have a telescopic lens,'' the late author wrote in a 1947 monograph. “There may be an American egret, a great blue heron, more rarely a bittern.”
Carson could well have been writing about the view from the 734-square-foot rear deck spanning the breadth of this house, which rises from a bluff above the marsh. "Look out over the marshes when the tide is high, and you see nothing but grass and water,'' Carson wrote. "But look again when the tide is on the ebb, and you will see that every creek has a border of black mud.''
Her account was not the inspiration for the way this home sits on its 2.56 acres or the materials used in its construction. Instead interior design choices — the ceilings are 10 feet, and wood and stone play a role in every room — were influenced by the concept of feng shui and its call to make a home balanced with the nature surrounding it.
Compared with the rear and sides of the house, the front of this home is straightforward, an almost Cape-like facade that sports a portico topped with a Douglas fir and mahogany roof and ipe decking. The left side has a distinct silo-like tower with a barrel roof that appears to stand sentry over the marsh.
A custom-made 900-pound door of stainless steel and walnut (one of several) opens into an entrance hall with a limestone floor and a walnut and metal ceiling. This space, and others in this home, has radiant heat.
This level hosts a living room that takes up much of the 1,752-square-foot first floor. Two Rumford fireplaces share a build-out made of ash and are flanked by bookshelves. A nook for storing firewood takes up one side of the build-out. But this isn’t the room’s focal point: It is the view of the marsh through two sliders to the deck.
The kitchen continues the push for natural materials in distinctive fashion. Sliding doors from the dining room open into a space with custom hand-cut cherry cabinets and light-toned quartz counters. The island, however, is topped with black granite. The appliances are high end and stainless steel, including a gas stove so nicely positioned to the view that one wouldn’t mind standing next to it waiting for water to boil.
Just off the kitchen is a dining area with two crystal pendant lights, views of the marsh, and a door to the deck. The ipe deck is spacious, with walnut and steel railings and room for a table for six. It ends in a porch with handcrafted walnut screens, a mahogany ceiling, and walnut paneling.
Completing this floor is a half bathroom off the kitchen and a bedroom in the front of the house that has access to the home’s screen porch. The room is currently used as a playroom, and the closet needs to be reenclosed.
Off the kitchen, a curvy staircase with a black metal railing and tiger maple treads stitches all three levels together and climbs the home’s windowed tower.
The 1,388-square-foot top level holds the owner suite, another bedroom, a living room with a fireplace, and the main full bath. The owner suite offers a walk-in closet, a wall of windows overlooking the marsh, a private screen porch and deck, and a bath with a mahogany vanity topped with granite, vessel sinks, a standalone shower, and a jetted tub framed in wood that overlooks the marsh. The main full bath has a tub/shower combination, a single vanity, and the laundry facilities.
The walk-out lower level, measured at 1,752 square feet, holds the fourth bedroom (now used as a music room), a family room, and an office with a half bath and a separate entrance. The level is plumbed for a full bathroom, which could be finished to turn the bedroom into a suite.
Hot water is from a propane-fired tank, but gas hookups are available for the range, oven, and dryer. The home also has a central humidifier, reverse osmosis filtration, and built-in sound systems. No flood insurance is required.
Mary Holmes of Heritage Realty Associates in Newburyport has the listing.
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