Open Concept Saltbox House

“We knew we wanted a saltbox house,” says Elizabeth Burry, standing in the kitchen of her Trinity summer home. “We both love saltboxes.”

She and her husband also like open concept floor plans, and so while the home looks like a saltbox on the outside, it abandons the traditional layout of a central staircase with separate kitchen and parlour rooms.

“I didn’t want it chopped up inside, I knew I wanted an open concept,” she said.

Elizabeth was introduced to Trinity by her husband Ed when the two were first dating. His family is from the area, and his aunt Ada had some land and two houses in Trinity.

“We were always asking her if she would sell us one of the houses,” said Elizabeth.

Then one Halloween evening the phone rang at their St. John’s home. It was Ada, offering to sell them some land “on the hill.” Neither was quite sure where Ed’s aunt was referring to, so they went to Trinity to have a look.

“It was the most spectacular land in all of Trinity,” she said. But with the long and sometimes unwritten history of Trinity, land acquisition isn’t always a simple thing.

“We had to get affidavits from the three oldest members of the community to say that Ada Green owned the land so that she could sell it to us,” she said.

With the land now in their name, they thought the house should be set into the hill, with the entrance on the second floor. They talked with Frank LaPointe, who Elizabeth said knows a lot about historical houses, and he convinced them to build on top of the hill. Frank then drew up blueprints for them, creating the open concept saltbox the couple wanted. Every window in the house has a commanding view, thanks to the home’s hilltop perch.

The house is a modest size at 20 by 28 feet, and is the perfect size for a summer home of two creative types. Elizabeth is a visual artist and jewelry maker, and Ed is a writer. His plays have been performed at the Trinity theatre, and he has published books based on the region’s history. Down the hill, the couple built an art studio and gallery, the Mirabella by Elizabeth Burry Studios, that sits over the water and looks like a converted fishing stage.

While in Trinity, the two spend a lot of time entertaining, and the eight chairs around the dining room table are regularly filled. The table used to be in the couple’s St. John’s home, until they had six inches cut off each side – but kept the length – and brought it to Trinity.

“I wanted to keep the length to make it look like a farmhouse table,” Elizabeth said. The light coloured table is a good match for the cabinetry nearby, and is offset by the darker stained and exposed joists of the ceiling.

“It’s sort of a country feel,” she said, explaining the décor and the look they were going for.

As for the exterior look, Len Barry, from Chatney’s Arm, built the structure of the house. Both Elizabeth and Ed wanted to work on the house themselves and decided to do the interior finishing work. The spruce floor planks are from Cottles Island Lumber and were laid by Ed and a friend, while Elizabeth did much of the tile in the kitchen, and both worked on the walls. They used wood for the interior walls instead of drywall, partly for the look but also because it’s a seasonal home and wood deals well with changes in humidity and weather.

The sunroom was an addition, completed last year, that adds a lot of natural light to the space, and with a fireplace it’s a cozy place to relax, even on cooler nights. It can seat seven people comfortably, and as a sun porch it’s still plausible as being period-correct, noted Elizabeth. The windows are larger than those in the rest of the house, and it’s the only room in the house that has vinyl insert windows. “We’re delighted with it,” said Elizabeth of the new sun porch. “It’s cozy.”

Trinity has worked to maintain the rich history of the area, with the restoration of many of the town’s old homes. In addition to the restorations by homeowners, the town has imposed a set of guidelines on all new construction. All homes built in the village must fit a certain look.

The Burry residence is no exception. With its traditional lines, wood windows, open concept, and saltbox style it’s both a nod to the past and a comfortable, modern country home.