Inside, the three-bedroom house has a contemporary layout, with a great room flowing into the dining area, kitchen, and sunroom. Yet the cypress beadboard in every room, the bare tamarack floors, and Poineau’s custom-made doors give it the feel of an old-fashioned cottage.
“We always follow a theme and have continuity to everything,” Poineau says. “We try to build so there’s not one element in the house that is more valuable than another, so you don’t leave saying, ‘That’s a fabulous kitchen,’ or ‘That’s a fabulous fireplace.’ Your impression is of one style.”
But with all due respect, it’s impossible not to be enchanted with the veranda that overlooks the river. The porch was the most-loved feature of the old cottage, and in the new house it is even more impressive—100 screened-in feet interrupted only by a small sunroom with French doors for cross traffic.Because the porches are bug-free and somewhat private, they’re more functional than an outside deck. “We really live there in the summer,” Mary says. And when the weather gets chilly, the Biddingers gather around a small fireplace installed 21⁄2 feet off the porch decking.
Over that tiny fireplace sits a mantelpiece made from one of the five trees removed for the new construction. Such intimacies are tucked throughout the house, from the butler’s pantry re-created from memories of Mary’s grandmother’s place to the diamond-shaped window salvaged from the old cottage. When the house was done, it felt so comfortable and personal that the Biddingers sold their home in Ohio and made Indian River their permanent residence—not the couple’s original plan.
They had never built a house before but, thanks to Poineau’s willingness to blend their ideas into a cohesive style, they say the process was a delight. “With Andy, we spent so much time talking about what we liked, it was almost as if we sat here and watched it being built, like we knew every board,” Mary says. “I think that’s why it was so fun.”