Exterior of a Turkel prefab home in Martha’s Vineyard featuring Marvin windows and doors.
09 September 2021

This Inviting Prefab Home in Martha’s Vineyard Takes Cues From Nature

Faced with the challenges of building on an island, a New York–based family embraces the benefits of prefab design with a custom Axiom timber home. 

In the seaside village of Chilmark, tucked into a quiet wooded setting, a home with gracious architecture and light-filled interiors honors its owners’ deep ties to the land. "My family has lived on Martha’s Vineyard for ten generations," says Will Seward, a New York City–based builder by trade. When it came time to build his own home on the island, he and his partner, Michelle, knew they wanted a custom dwelling with minimalist, yet warm and approachable design that felt in harmony with its setting. 
For the couple, part of this harmony meant working within the natural constraints of their location, which—accessible only by boat and air—can quickly escalate costs both financial and environmental. "Building on an island is tricky," says Jake Wright of Turkel Design prefabricated homes, who solved the couple’s problem with a customized take on the Boston-based company’s Axiom 2790 model. 
Clad in ash, the multilevel residence is a sleek, right-angled nod to the island’s vernacular architecture—shingle-style exteriors that become weathered and gray over time—and it provides the welcoming, human-scaled getaway the family had hoped to create. 
Inside, an open layout connects large gathering spaces with a double-height kitchen at the center. "It feels like one big room, which is made even bigger by windows in every direction," says Will. The Turkel designer agrees the kitchen hub works well for the busy family of three while drawing light into the home: "Sunlight streaming through the clerestory windows is one of my favorite moments in the house." 
To achieve the family’s desired indoor/outdoor lifestyle, Wright ensured plenty of openings throughout the home and fitted them with windows and doors from the Marvin Signature Ultimate collection. "Marvin understands the kind of rigor and tolerance needed for prefab designs," says Wright, "and their windows hold in heat in the winter and allow cooling in the summer, reducing energy use." 
"The entire prefab experience was miraculous," says Will. "Because the pieces were made ahead of time and in a controlled environment, everything came together very fast, yet ended up much less cookie-cutter than I expected." 
Wright attributes this to Turkel Design’s technical expertise and design process. "We create an incredibly detailed 3D digital model of the home, which allows us to resolve unforeseen problems ahead of time," he says. "That way, whatever we bring to the island, we know it will fit together efficiently and precisely, with less wastage overall." 
Being back on his old stomping grounds makes Will nostalgic. He notes, "The Island has grown a lot. It's different than it was when I was a kid, but it's still a magical place, and I’m glad my son will get to experience it." 
Project Credits:  
Architecture: Turkel Design 
Builder: Catalyst Chilmark LLC 
Window Supplier: Marvin 

This article first appeared on Dwell.com

Photography by 22 Waves Creative for Dwell, Design by Turkel