It was roughly 20 years ago when the Mansfields stumbled upon Kinnakeet at the end of an unmarked sand road on Hatteras Island. There, in its rugged glory, was the muse for their dream home. “It was a total discovery,” Pat says. After some determined detective work, they managed to acquire the blueprints from the National Park Service. Galvanized, they hired their architect friend Jon Buschke from Madison, Wisconsin, to sketch a plan.
Much of their 2,800-square-foot main house has the feel of the original lifesaving station, but the couple was not interested in building a reproduction. They chose to replicate features most important to the integrity of the design and look—the paint colors, the wrap-around porches, the watchtower, the shuttered windows, the beadboard walls and wood floors, the angled ceilings around the dormers, the nailing detail— but freely added modern touches that flowed with the maritime character. Porches were widened, and some sections were screened in. A sunken spa overlooking the river was installed in one corner, and transoms were placed in interior and exterior walls.
Pat says, “I don’t think I design, I adapt what I see.” She is having as much fun now as she did at the height of her career. “We built this house for us,” Pat says. “We didn’t build it for its resale value. We just want to live here as long as we can.”