Working in the swimming pool and spa business for more than 25 years, Chris Dittrich has seen many changes during that time in terms of what clients on Cape Cod want.
Today, Dittrich, the owner of Shoreline Pools, Inc. of Harwich, says many customers on the Cape want larger pools. However, while requesting an increase in surface area, many are also asking for pools that are shallower, say four to five feet deep, so the entire space can be used for volleyball and other games. Coinciding with this, the company is fielding fewer requests for both slides and diving boards. “People are trending toward shallower pools,” Dittrich says, “so they can utilize the entire body of water for playing games and doing laps.”
Regardless of the size or scope of a pool project—large or small, deep or shallow—Dittrich says his company can tackle the job. “We do it all,” he says. “We specialize in complete project management from landscaping to hardscaping. We want to keep everything under one roof and make it easier for the client.”
“We are all custom,” Dittrich adds. “The biggest side of our business is the service side, not only during the build process but for many years after.” In addition to installing custom pools and spas, the company offers repair services, renovations, pool openings and closings, liner replacements, leak detection and repair, and acid washing. The company builds cabanas, too.
Dittrich says 80 percent of Shoreline’s installations are custom pools, and 20 percent are custom hot tubs. The other side of the company’s business involves the ongoing maintenance of these pools and spas. “We specialize in openings, closings, and weekly maintenance,” Dittrich says. “That way, the clients don’t have to worry about their pools at all.” To ease the homeowner’s burden, Shoreline provides pool maintenance during the week. For those with summer homes, when the homeowner shows up in May or June, their pool is waiting for them, crystal clear, and ready to be enjoyed.
The company is busy during the spring and summer, for sure, but Dittrich says the winter can be busy too as this time is used to secure permits for the coming season.
Shoreline Pools has been in business for nine years, but Dittrich’s experience in the field dates back to the mid-1980s. Growing up, he worked in the industry with his father, the late Todd Dittrich. “I’ve been in the pool business since I was 9 years old,” Dittrich says. “I’m the only second-generation pool builder on Cape Cod.”
With 22 employees on staff in season, Dittrich says he thinks he is also the largest pool builder on the Cape.
“We service Cape Cod up to Boston,” he says. “We deal with everything from regular ‘mom and pops’ to the extreme high-end homeowners and builders.” The company works with several different homebuilders, but one thing remains the same on all projects: Dittrich is there. He is on site for every job, overseeing the work being done. Additionally, rather than juggling multiple projects at once, the company works on just one at a time. “And when it is complete,” Dittrich says, “we move on to the next one.”
Dittrich shares some of the trends he’s been seeing a lot lately. For example, he says pool sizes are growing. “People are trending toward larger pools again,” he says. “They are getting much bigger.” In addition, he says about 80 percent of the new pools the company installs also include custom automatic rolling covers. “It is huge on safety and super energy efficient,” he says. “Everything from the pumps to the heaters. Everybody is very energy conscious now.”
A number of customers are also transitioning from freshwater pools to saltwater, he adds. “People are wanting to get away from harsh chemicals,” he says. “The saltwater is an easier process.”
One unique recent project involved the installation of an indoor 7- by 45-foot lap pool. The contractor on the project was Cape Associates, Inc. of Eastham and the residence was a summer home in Provincetown.
During the 19th century, ships’ names were often carved and painted on wooden signs and displayed on the vessels. Since shipwrecks were common, the signs often washed ashore and ended up as exterior home decorations in Cape villages. Interestingly, these quarterboards were first carved in the town of Chatham.
“Past and present Chatham is tied together by the tradition of quarterboards,” says Bob Lacy, owner of the Chatham Sign Shop on Kent Place. “A visitor roaming the town’s back roads can’t help but notice how many houses have quarterboards. Some are old, some are new, but the names are all interesting.”
In business for more than 25 years, the Chatham Sign Shop offers quarterboards—as well as a variety of other carved wooden signage—in a range of traditional sizes, styles, colors, and shapes: from small oval street numbers to family name signs featuring a custom design.
Working together, Angela and Peter Kimball form the successful team behind AP Kimball Construction of Yarmouthport. “Our husband and wife team gives both a female and a male perspective,” Angela says. “Peter focuses on construction and I lead the customer through the design and construction process, from choosing finishes to fixtures. Multiple perspectives help develop a better product for our clients.”
While AP Kimball does take on some new construction projects, the majority of their work is in the remodeling field, especially when it comes to kitchen renovations. “There isn’t a lot of land on the Cape to build,” Angela says, “but there are plenty of homes that need updating. We have a lot of clients who are retiring and want to make their summer home into a year-round home. That’s where we come in.”
Nothing provides the finishing touch to a home’s exterior like custom-designed and crafted shutters. When it comes to manufacturing and installing this important decorative item, Brewster’s Seaport Shutter Company is a leader.
Founded in 1992, Seaport custom-makes and installs wooden shutters using quality materials meant to withstand Cape Cod’s environment. “We manufacture our shutters using high-end, kiln-dried red cedar, with a low-moisture content—less than four percent. Then we apply five coats of paint to the shutters,” says Lauren Huard, the company’s sales director. She says the combination of the quality wood along with multiple coats of paint, results in a long shutter lifespan—even on homes by the water.
Huard, who works at the company alongside her parents, says Seaport Shutter is a bit different from its competitors because the shutters, whether for the exterior or the interior of the home, are tailor-made for each customer. “We also continue to service the customers even after installation,” she says.
The company offers several different shutter styles. “We are known for our flat panel style with a custom cut-out, or applique, that can be made in a variety of designs. This offers our customers the opportunity to add character to their shutters,” Huard says.
Like the exterior shutters, Seaport also custom-makes interior shutters, coming into the home to measure, install, and service the units. “The interior shutters are manufactured from a furniture-grade hardwood and receive five coats of oil-based paint that can be customized to match any color,” Huard says.
The search for a signature piece of top-quality upholstered furniture goes well beyond simply selecting a sofa or chair that fits a particular room, or is covered in a great fabric. Margie Huggard, owner of Margo’s Practically Unusual in Osterville, says customers looking for an upholstered piece that will endure should start with the materials and construction of the furniture. “Shop for the frame and materials,” Huggard says, “and then choose the fabric.”
Huggard, who has been in business on Wianno Avenue in Osterville since 1996, says the materials used in furniture—the wood of the frame, the fill of the cushions and pillows—and how it is constructed, all play an integral role in how long a piece will last.
Huggard recommends selecting items with frames of kiln-dried hardwood, such as birch or maple, rather than a soft pine; she also recommends checking the contents of the item’s cushions and pillows. “There are different types of cushions, such as poly-down wrapped,” she says. “If the pillows are down, there should be stitching to keep the fill from shifting.”
The furniture’s support system should also be checked, Huggard explains, referring to the coils or s-rings located beneath the cushions. She urges her customers to fight the urge to replace an older, quality-made piece, simply because of its age. “People sometimes have a sofa they love, but the fabric needs updating,” she says.
For those who may be overwhelmed by the choices available in the upholstering process, Huggard suggests hiring an interior designer who can lend his or her expertise. “An interior designer will understand the details,” she says, “and can help in selecting a piece that transforms seating from ordinary to extraordinary.”
From a 19th-century cupboard with original paint to a vintage 1930s windmill, Kindreds Antiques & Folk Art of Osterville specializes in early American and primitive antiques. Among these, the shop offers an array of unique decoys. Considered the only form of folk art indigenous to the United States, decoys were made and used by Native Americans who later taught the craft to local settlers to help them hunt.
“Our mission is to sell antiques and folk art of distinction for those with kindred spirit,” owner Ann Rascati says. “Everything [we offer] is hand-crafted and nothing is mass produced. We want to encourage and support the craftsmen who are keeping our traditions alive.”
Other one-of-a-kind, handcrafted items offered at the shop include unusual paintings and other folk art pieces, vintage quilts, and more. After successful years in Osterville, Kindred’s is now partnering with Carabelle’s at 86 Cotuit Road, Route 149, in Marstons Mills.
Eagles and cars. Horse and buggies. Fish and ships. Since opening in 1939, Cape Cod Cupola of North Dartmouth has completed requests for all sorts of custom weathervanes—in addition to cupolas and finials. Seal and shark designs are popular, as are catboats and the Wianno Senior sailboat; in 2013, the company designed an elaborate castle for one Cape Cod client.
“Nothing is unusual for us anymore,” says Brian Chabot, the shop’s manager and an employee since 1977. “Last year, we made a mermaid holding a martini glass.” The finished product was installed on a pool house roof.
Cape Cod Cupola’s four crafters make about 400 weathervanes a year, each requiring an average of 18 to 24 hours to complete. Generally, the weathervanes are made from copper since the metal is malleable, solders easily, and weathers well. “It goes through a process of aging that is attractive,” Chabot says, adding that when the customer brings a weathervane home, it looks like a shiny new penny. Over time, though, it grows brown, light green—and later—a lighter patina green. “Once it has gone green, that is the desired color of many collectors,” Chabot says. “When you see one that’s green, you know it’s been out for 30 years, 40 years.”
The company offers a lifetime guarantee for the weathervanes, but Chabot says very few come back needing repair. “It’s good to see they survive the storms that Cape Cod gets,” he says.
What does he like most about his work? Chabot enjoys seeing the finished product up in the air. “I love going back year after year in my travels and deliveries,” he says, “and locating something we had made in the past, and seeing that it is still flying in the wind.”
The traditional art of wood block carving is known as xylography, and Paul White of Sandwich has been carving out his niche in the craft for more than 45 years. With an expansive studio on Route 6A in Sandwich, Paul White Woodcarving specializes in hand-carved wooden eagles. Paul employs the art form’s traditional style by using chisels and mallets, working with various woods and paints, and finishing the job with 23-karat gold.
Paul’s designs are inspired by traditional eagle carvings, such as those that have adorned American buildings dating back to colonial times. The artisan creates custom pieces for clients around the world and also leads regular workshops.
“I have six scheduled workshops yearly,” he says. “What makes our studio unique is the cross-section of various carvings and I so enjoy teaching others.”
A fascinating aspect of photographer Michael Kahn’s work—aside from the beauty of his vision—is that his stunning images of sailing yachts and seascapes are traditionally shot and processed. Toting a 1950’s camera, Kahn travels around the globe to capture images on black and white film and then prints the photos on silver gelatin paper in his darkroom.
Kahn’s photography has been profiled and his images showcased in National Geographic, Coastal Living, Sailing World, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications. His photographs are displayed in art galleries and museums throughout the world, including Edgartown’s North Water Gallery. “His work is perfect for Martha’s Vineyard,” says Robin Nagle, director of North Water Gallery. “He captures the essence of the sailing community and the history of Edgartown village.”
In 1947, brothers Leo, John, and Charles Barbo, founded Barbo’s Furniture in Stoneham. The business has grown and expanded over the last 67 years with showrooms in Falmouth and Dennisport catering to every customer’s needs, from quality mattresses to complete office furnishings to high-end sofas and more.
Now under the leadership of a third generation of the family, the company remains as committed as ever to decorating and furnishing Cape Cod homes.
“We are the largest family-owned furniture store on the Cape and are planning on many more years servicing Cape Cod homes,” co-owner Dave Barbo says. “We base our philosophy on our customers’ needs. We listen to our customers and deliver the style they want to help create their lifestyle.”