6999 Highway 3, Hunt’s Point, N.S.
Asking price: $3.1-million
Taxes: $13,612 (2023)
Lot size: 5 acres
Listing agent: Susan Diamond, Engel & Völkers Chester
The central premise of the 1989 Kevin Costner baseball movie Field of Dreams was, “If you build it, they will come.”
In real life, sometimes they still don’t come.
That’s part of the story of couple Robynne Moncur and Chris Dineley’s 6,000-square-foot seaside house on Nova Scotia’s south shore (about two hours from Halifax): They built it planning to retire there, but as it turns out, if they move in full-time it could be a lonely outpost for the family.
“Our three daughters have absolutely no interest in ever going there again. … They won’t come to Nova Scotia – they made that very clear,” said Ms. Moncur, an interior designer with a long career of shaping spaces in the hotel and restaurant business.
Over the years there were summers and some Christmases spent on the ocean, but the daughters (fully grown with families of their own in Ontario and California) made it clear the rugged Atlantic coastline is just a little too far out of the way to make it a habit.
“My mother was born and raised in Nova Scotia. We would go every summer until I was a teenager and didn’t want to do it any more,” Ms. Moncur said. In some ways, perhaps she should have seen it coming.
But the pull of the Maritimes was strong enough that when she stumbled across an online listing for the undeveloped land in 2008 she almost bought it sight-unseen. “I had such an affinity to it, and I didn’t know why,” she said.
It was in 2010, when they were building the home and she was speaking to her mother about the location when the final piece fell into place. “She gasped on the phone,” and when Ms. Moncur pressed, her mother explained that bay was very special indeed. “My father was in the Canadian Navy, and as an honorarium you can choose to be buried at sea,” she said. When he died in 2000 the site he chose for his eternal rest was Port Mouton Bay. The X that marks the spot on her mother’s map is right across from Ms. Moncur’s Hunt’s Point home.
The house today
Everything about this home is designed to respond to the ocean. Down a steep grade from the highway the wooded lot gives way to a rocky shore where the house sits.
The house was designed by Ms. Moncur and is built around three “pods” that are the main living spaces connected to each other by walkways that hold ancillary spaces. From the outside, it looks a bit like three smaller cottages connected by lantern-shaped structures, that echo the “widow’s walks” and lighthouse turrets of the Atlantic Coast. “There’s lighting in those coffers, so at night it is really a beacon,” said Ms. Moncur.
Inside and out the couple focused on natural materials: Nova Scotia cedar planks and shake on the exterior and on the interior a mix of black basalt stone and wide-plank oak floors. The walls are mainly white, allowing the few accent colour walls to jump out, and the trim and doors are mainly black.
Ms. Moncur had never done the architectural drawings for a whole house before this (though she is back at it again for her next home, located more centrally for the daughters). Her firm does a lot of design for big hotel chains, and some of her favourite work was for Toronto’s venerable King Edward Hotel, including the refurbishment of the long-mothballed 17th-floor Crystal Ballroom. Like that ballroom, her home was also designed to be unique.
“The last thing I ever wanted it to do was look like a hotel interior,” she said. Her background shows up in the home in elements such as indirect lighting and elevated material choices.
“We didn’t cheap out on anything,” said Mr. Dineley. “We had access to quality supplies, as opposed to Home Depot.” That shows up in things like stainless-steel prep areas in the kitchen with integrally welded sinks, commercial kitchen quality appliances, and the custom-built black-framed windows that dominate all the water-facing walls of the house.
“They are designed to almost disappear because of that small mullion on the steel window,” said Ms. Moncur.
The entry foyer is in the “lantern” on the right, between the pod on the end that holds the primary living suite and the large central pod with living and dining space with a kitchen on the forested side. Passing through the second lantern (where laundry and powder room are tucked away) you get to the guest pod with three bedrooms and a large shared bathroom. All across the back of the home is a connected walkout patio, with defined spaces for outdoor cooking and swimming in the long narrow lap pool.
The home away from home inside the home
Some primary suites are just a bedroom with a closet, but in this house, it’s truly a self-contained retreat. On the right of the door into the suite is an office space that could be converted to a bedroom, but to the left is a long bedroom with ocean views. The space loops around a central chamber that contains a large ensuite bathroom/dressing room, and culminates in a library/private media room on the forest side of the house.
Almost every room has excellent views of the ocean, but to be sitting in bed looking at a raging storm is perhaps the best way to witness it.
“It is truly phenomenal when the waves hit the big rocks, when the tide goes out you can see they are massive,” said Ms. Moncur. “The show is just incredible. It’s spectacular.”