It’s not surprising that a couple living a fast-paced life in New York City, fell in love with the natural windswept beauty of Cape Cod after their first visit more than 20 years ago, and have made it their vacation destination each year since then. When a two-bedroom fishermen’s cottage—600 square feet—came up for sale in the Cape Cod National Seashore, they saw the ideal spot for their retirement home. The location was perfect: a property high on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. “I love living near the water,” says the wife. “It’s hypnotic.” Although the location was more than ideal for the couple, the house and land posed a few challenges: The site was a steep, sandy slope; the original 1940s shanty was not weatherized and—oddly enough—wasn’t oriented toward the views; and there were strict building and height restrictions if a new building were to be erected on the site. The couple quickly realized they were going to have to build a new house on the land in order to live there year-round. They had admired a house in Truro designed by Andersen- Miller Design, a Los Angeles based firm that works nationally. They contacted the firm to help them with plans to revamp the existing structure. It was clear to lead architect Matt Miller that nothing was salvageable in the old storm-beaten cottage. Miller was familiar with building guidelines and codes in the park and town of Wellfleet, and he knew they would need to design a house sensitive to the surroundings. Read more…
“They call this a floater,” says Stephen Fletcher, executive vice president of Skinner, Inc., and owner of the circa 1815 three-quarter Cape house located in Provincetown. “It came over from Long Point.” Fletcher is referring to the tip of Cape Cod, where a thriving community—centered on a salt works—was established and more than 200 houses and a school were built between 1815 and 1850. Once the salt works went out of commission, families would float their homes across the harbor over to Provincetown’s West End. Today, many of these houses wear ceramic blue plaques depicting a house being floated on a boat. A bit of a history buff, Fletcher is well-versed in most things old. For 30 years he has been a chief auctioneer and appraiser for Skinner, Inc., heading up the company’s Americana Department—he is an expert on early American furniture and folk art. He appears regularly on PBS’s Antiques Road Show, making or breaking a participant’s dream of owning a priceless heirloom or national treasure. And he also sits on the board of trustees for the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
Fletcher not only works in the antiques field, but he also lives it. His weekend house has become the perfect backdrop for his personal collection of antiques and artwork.
The small and unassuming exterior might lead one to think that the Samuel Fessenden House is just another historical home. But once inside the circa 1840 house on Main Street in Sandwich, a treasure trove of antiques and wonderful collections abound—and come Christmas, those treasures are on full display. Read more…
The Captain Ezra Nye house has been much more than a lovely home in its more than 180 years on Main Street in Sandwich. It has served as a dentist office, a boarding house, a law office, and a bed and breakfast over the years. Still, its essential inviting character has always endured. Last year, during the Sandwich Holly Days Home Tour, homeowners Ellen and George Park opened this historic home to let visitors experience that inviting character firsthand. Read more…
After eight years of living in the cramped quarters of an 1820s Federal home in Provincetown, Neal Balkowitsch and his partner, Donald Nelson, decided they needed to upgrade the house to make it more functional. “At first we just wanted to add a master bath and replace some rotting windows, but this quickly ballooned into a whole house renovation,” says Balkowitsch. The old place was small and dark with an unfortunate 1930s addition that had a crumbling foundation. The only way to the master bedroom was via the antique, ultra-steep staircase—and the lone bathroom was on the first floor. “Try climbing those stairs in the middle of the night half asleep,” quips Balkowitsch. Some of the old sashes had been replaced with a large plate glass window in the 1950s, rendering the original historical façade unrecognizable.
“We can walk into town for coffee in the morning or down to a private beach for a swim—there is just something so special about this town.”
After completing renovations on their lakeside cottage in Connecticut, Edie and Joe DeHaen looked at each other and said, “It just isn’t Chatham.” The couple had owned a small place in the seaside town for years, but thought it would be more practical to buy a getaway closer to their home in West Chester County, New York. The lake just didn’t feel right—they missed the saltwater and sea breezes. In 2005, they put their Constitution State house on the market and sold it five days later. Soon after, they started looking for a property in Chatham and happened upon a simple Royal Barry Wills Cape dating from the 1970s. Although the small house was well-built, it was austere to say the least, and its plain facade lacked personality and charm. But its location—in the center of Stage Island with distant views of the harbor—was idyllic.
Edie knew the house had potential. “Later that day, Joe and I had lunch at The Chatham Squire on Main Street, and I took a napkin and drew a sketch of what I thought the house could look like,” says Edie. The house really presented itself as a blank canvas that could be transformed into something more. They made an offer. “We decided to live in the house for a summer before we started renovations,” says Edie. “This gave us an idea of what we really wanted out of the renovation.” The couple decided on two key factors: to add curb appeal, and to open up the living space.
Friends suggested Edie and Joe contact Rick Roy of Rick Roy Construction in Harwich to work on the renovation. Edie and Rick sat down to go over what Edie desired from the new design. “We really wanted to give the house some personality and create outdoor spaces,” says Edie. “We also wanted to open up the interiors.” The whole house was dark inside not only from a lack of windows, but also from the dreary finishes that covered most surfaces. There was a large, red brick fireplace that took up all of the dining room wall. It just didn’t say Cape cottage.
On Edie’s wish list was a farmhouse porch for the cottage. Rick also suggested A-frame dormers on the main house and shed dormers over the garage, which would offer more space and light on the second floor. Rick also recommended the addition of a screened porch, and Joe realized that a second-story deck on top would provide the perfect view of the harbor. “We love the screened porch,” says Edie. “Especially during greenhead season.” The simple, unadorned rectangular box quickly took on a whole new look. To enhance the exterior, new classical trim was added to windows in keeping with the traditional cottage theme, and sliding glass doors off the family room lead to a screened porch, patio, and pergola. “This spot has become one of my favorite places to sit and relax,” says Edie.
Not only did Rick transform the exterior, but also the interiors took on a whole new look. “We lightened everything up,” says Edie. The hall leading to the master suite was widened, a master bath was added and two walk-in closets, and the powder room was updated with country accents, such as bead board walls and powder blue paint. On the second floor, Rick took down a wall to open up the stair hall, allowing light to pour in through the dormer additions. “The dormers not only lighten the upstairs, but add more space as well,” says Edie. To increase sleeping quarters for Edie and Joe’s grown children, Rick added a guest room over the garage with built-in window benches. A window in the guest room is repeated downstairs between the kitchen and family room. Other custom touches include a white box-molding mantel in the living room and a large picture window, centered on the wall to add symmetry.
Edie worked with the Rose Cottage in Harwich for the furniture and fabric that fit well with the casual beach house. She also chose oil, acrylic, and watercolor works by local artists to decorate the walls and to further the cottage look and feel of the house.
Edie and Joe couldn’t be happier with the outcome. “It was a pleasure to work with Rick,” says Edie. “It was joyful! His whole team was respectful and responded to our needs. Rick has great vision and kept the integrity of the original house while enhancing it.” Edie is also happy they made the move back to Chatham. “We can walk into town for coffee in the morning or down to a private beach for a swim—there is just something so special about this town and living on Stage Island.” Even though the drive is a few hours further than the lake house, Edie wouldn’t trade her charming Chatham cottage for anything.