houses

Hurricane-Proof Beach Houses

I’ve mentioned a few times that one of my goals is to buy a beach house.

There are fewer places where I’m happier, than on a beach. (From the number of posts on the subject, I think that’s pretty clear!) And while I frequent the New York beaches each summer, it’s a long haul for me to get to any of them. My dream is to be able to spend most summer weekends at my own place, in a nearby beach town.

I’m not envisioning anything fancy. Just someplace bright, airy, and relatively quiet.

I do know the risks that come with owning a beach house, though. Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast’s seaside towns hard. Lots of areas are still recovering—including LBI, where I recently vacationed.

Knowing that, I’ve been poking around the web to see what can be done to help beachfront homes survive hurricanes. In the process, I stumbled upon two very different, but gorgeous, houses built to withstand natural disasters.

This seaside cottageВ sits on Hunting Island, off the coast of Maine.В The stones on the exterior walls came from the island. I love the juxtaposition of the rocks and weathered wood…

rustic exterior

…and how the home is just a few steps from the water!

rustic porch

That proximity to the ocean puts the house in a FEMA flood zone, which meant it had to built to code. Design firm, the Knickerbocker Group, oversaw the project: making sure vents could handle rushing floodwaters, ensuring that all wood was rot-proof, installingВ electrical wiring at least three feet off the floor. And that metal rod running along the roof, inside the living room? That’s to keep it from blowing off during a bad storm.

rustic living room

Scary to even think of that. Though I imagine falling asleep on most nights, listening to the sound of waves, makes the risk worth it.

rustic bedroom
On the other end of the design spectrum, is this Tsunami House, fromВ Design Northwest Architects,В on Washington’s Camano Island, in the Puget Sound.

tsunami_house_02

It, too, was built to FEMA code. The lower level is an expansive patio and seating area…

tsunami_house_07

…but since it would likely be underwater in the event of a hurricane, the main living space is nine feet above ground.

tsunami_house_18

The structure was built to withstand 85 mph winds and earthquakes.

tsunami_house_17

tsunami_house_19

At first, I was really wowed by the Tsunami House. But after seeing the stone cottage, I feel like that’s more my style: simple and rustic yet elegant. Either way,В it’s inspiring—and encouraging—to see what can be done within strict flood zone codes.

Which house do you prefer?

(Images of the stone house via Houzz;В images of the Tsunami House by Design Northwest Architects, found via Weather.com)

New Orleans-Themed Toms

I don’t often blog about products, but I couldn’t resist posting about these Toms. The design is a map of New Orleans.

NATURAL TOMS X MAKE IT RIGHT WOMEN'S CLASSICS

You know how much I love maps. And Toms are pretty much the only shoes I wear.

This particular pair is a collaboration between Toms and Make It Right, a nonprofit founded by Brad Pitt to build affordable, LEED Platinum certified homes in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward—which never fully recovered from Katrina.

I visited New Orleans for the first time, a year and a half ago, and loved the city. I was only there for a few days, but didn’t go to the Ninth Ward. To be honest, I didn’t want to be one of those “disaster tourists” who gawk at places hit by unfortunate events.

I would like toВ see the Make It Right houses, on my next trip, though. Some, like this one, are designed by firms based in New Orleans…

Waggoner and Ball Architects are located in New Orleans and designed this home.

…or nearby Baton Rouge.

Trahan Architects are based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and designed this home.

Others were designed by architects from Tokyo…

Shigeru Ban Architects are based in Tokyo, Japan and designed this home.

…and Ghana.

Constructs Architects are based in Accra, Ghana and designed this home.

Frank Gehry’s firm designed one, too.

Frank Gehry and Partners are based in Los Angeles, California and designed this duplex home.

At first, I was jarred at how starkly modern these homes are. I especially loved New Orleans’ historic architecture, and these houses seem to contrast so much. But after looking at the photos a few times, I could see design elements often found inВ more traditional NOLA homes—slatted wood, vibrant colors, porches.

Either way, Make It Right’s mission is undoubtedly rooted in good. I’m reserving my final opinion on the homes’ aestheticsВ for when I see them in person. 😉

(AndВ here’s one more pair of travel-worthy TomsВ I stumbled across.)

(Images via Toms and Make It Right)