The invitation was unexpected and intriguing: Did I want to spend the night in a dune shack just yards away from the Atlantic in Provincetown?
For those unversed in Cape Cod lore, the dune shacks are the bare-bones dwellings that run along a two-mile stretch of dune ridges and valleys between Race Point in Provincetown and High Head in North Truro. The earliest shacks housed sailors who shipwrecked during the 19th century on the treacherous Peaked Hill Bars just off the beach. Others were constructed to provide a getaway from nearby bustling Provincetown center. Today, 19 rough-hewn shacks remain, and like the rest of the Provincetown community, they are steeped in history, culture, stories, and legend. Read more…
Antiques shops are spread far and wide over the country, but there may be no other spot more gilt-edged for antiquing than Cape Cod’s Route 6A. The road itself—also called the Old King’s Highway—is a treasure, lined with historic houses, ancient cemeteries, stone walls, views of salt marshes—and antique shops. Almost all of these shops are open year-round, but particularly in the off-season, it’s wise to call ahead.
Your day starts in Sagamore at Just Like Home Antiques & Gifts (Route 6A and Westdale Park, 508-888-2033), where owner Peg Wilson has filled her charming shop with collections of antiques and gifts with a vintage look, such as a line of Emma Bridgewater tableware. In a back room is a stunning example of Wilson’s specialty, vintage beds in brass and iron: a lovely 1920s restored iron bed ($600), made up with vintage linens.
Traveling east, Route 6A reveals more of classic Cape Cod, including a historic graveyard and grand houses. As you enter Sandwich, turn left on Tupper Road for the Sandwich Auction House (15 Tupper Road, 508-888-1926, www.sandwichauction.com). Sandwich Auction House holds several auctions a month; the monthly oriental rug auction is a highlight. One summer auction featured a stunning Tabriz carpet measuring just over 8 feet by 12 feet. Owner Duncan Gray opens the house for viewing.
Route 6A through Sandwich is a beautiful drive even if antiques aren’t on your mind. Watch for a glimpse of Sandy Neck Beach as you meander through this stretch of Cape Cod’s oldest town, founded in 1639. At Seaside Antiques (124 Route 6A, 508-888-1912), owner Sandra Tompkins considers her wares—antiques and treasures that are not old enough for the antique label—as one way to go green. Why buy a new blanket chest when you can purchase a gorgeous 1800s lift-top chest ($450)? Amble by the back door, where you’ll see a pretty view of two white church steeples rising above the treetops.
Further into Sandwich is the multifaceted Sandwich Antiques Center (131 Route 6A, 508-833-3600, www.sandwichantiquescenter.com). With 110 dealers represented, the goods here cover a wide swath of culture and history. Customers often ask to see the primitive furniture and Sandwich glass. But owner Peter Smith has charming décor items as well, including a charming 1800s portrait of a plump baby ($875). If you’re there on the hour, you’ll be treated to a chorus of chimes from the more than 50 grandfather clocks spread throughout the shop.
Further down the road in Sandwich is Maypop Antiques (161 Route 6A, 508-888-1230). Owner Paul Opacki has operated this shop—a converted gas station washed in white, plumped with banks of flowers, and worth a look on its own merits—for 25 years. Opacki’s spacious store is lined with tables of glass, china, jewelry, and furniture, including a late-18th century two-drawer tavern table in gorgeous cherry ($1,800).
Sandwich is the perfect home for a lovely shop operated by Toni Rencricca, her husband Nicholas, and daughter Nicole, who started out as collectors. Today they operate Antoinette’s Antiques & Collectibles in East Sandwich (350 Route 6A, 774-413-9799), which features several elegant rooms full of items, including ephemera, glass, jewelry, and coins. Many people stop in to see their collection of cameos, some carved from shell ($40-$850). One entire room is devoted to books and paper.
Edythe Davinis has set up her shop, Edythe & Co. Antiques (433 Route 6A, 508-888-8843) in stylish vignettes, so that customers can better picture how her pieces will fit in their own homes. She loves decorative goods and garden antiques with a little quirkiness. One show-stopper is a shell-encrusted art deco table with a floral design she found at a Paris flea market ($1,950). The store has a sister shop, Trade Secret Antiques, in Osterville.
Look carefully, or you may miss Horsefeathers Antiques (454 Route 6A, 508-888-5298; call first), and that would be a shame. Owner Jeanne Gresham’s confection is filled with antique and vintage baby clothing and handkerchiefs. One adorable example is a peach-colored cotton netting dress with stunning embroidery, circa 1930s ($110). Parents and grandparents will be utterly charmed.
The towns along Route 6A slip from one to the next and before you know it, you’re in West Barnstable. West Barnstable Antiques (625 Route 6A, 508-362-2047) is operated by Walter Munday, a font of knowledge for his fascinating collection of antiques. The eye goes immediately to shelves of navigation and surveying instruments. Before you leave, be sure to ask Walter to demonstrate the Polyphon Euphonion, a German-made music box that is almost four feet high and plays music in outstanding fashion.
At famous West Barnstable Table, just of Route 6A on Meetinghouse Way, the work of more than 14 craftspersons is represented in galleries full of newly crafted antique-style furniture and folk art items, housed in a large barn and an antique cranberry sorting building. This Cape Cod gem (2454 Meetinghouse Way, 508-362-2676) of a shop has been in business since 1970, providing custom order, beautifully designed tables, chairs, and other furniture that are sure to become treasured antiques for generations.
Route 6A takes a jog left at the intersection with Route 132 and continues its stretch of historic homes, bed-and-breakfast inns, and galleries. It’s the perfect time to pause, because the center of Barnstable Village is just ahead, an excellent place to stop for lunch or coffee. When you continue on your way east, notice the flower-banked stone walls, many of them pieces of Cape Cod history.
At Route 149, turn right for a one-of-a-kind antiques shop. The Barnstable Stove Shop (2481 Route 149, 508-362-9913), situated between the ancient cemetery and the old train depot, is owner Doug Pacheco’s incredible collection of stoves. Among the stoves are other antiques for sale, including tools, tiles, and stained glass windows. His must-see collection of restored antique kitchen ranges and parlor stoves includes a restored 1891 coal/wood stove embellished with a figurine of a Greco-Roman woman, angel heads, cherubs, and serpents, and set on a nickel claw-foot base stand ($8,500).
Eldred’s Auction House (1483 Route 6A, East Dennis, 508-385-3116, www.eldreds.com), set behind an antique sea captain’s house, is a Cape Cod tradition operated for over 60 years by the Eldred family. Almost all the art auctions feature antique artworks. Josh Eldred mentioned an auction last summer that featured a Ralph Cahoon painting, “A Shocking Incident at The Boston Public Garden” (total price: $207,000), which set a world record auction price for Cahoon’s work. Auction items may be previewed the day before every auction.
East Dennis Antiques (1514 Route 6A, 508-385-7651, www.eastdennisantiques.com) is situated in one of the many antique homes that line Route 6A. The shop is filled with fine furniture, paintings, and specialties such as antique frames and nautical items. One beauty is a “sailor’s silk,” a Japanese embroidered silk piece that commemorates a young sailor’s tour with the U.S. Navy ($2,500).
Set in a 1780s half-Cape, Spyglass Antiques (2257 Main Street, Brewster, 508-896-4423), focuses on 18th and 19th century maritime antiques and nautical instruments, such as antique barometers, telescopes, sailor-made folk art, and early American furniture and paintings. One item near and dear to owner Brad Finch is a turn-of- the-century ship’s figurehead of a mermaid set on a custom-made base ($10,500). As one of the oldest nautical shops on the Cape, Spyglass is a perfect place to cap your day.
The natural world dwells in Kathy Hallam, tuning her instincts and sharpening her eye. Where most people see a barn swallow in a nest of twigs, Hallam, an artisan in Gray Gables, sees a beautiful harbinger of potential. Hallam’s rendering of the little brown bird, painted in pastel and watercolor and set against onion cloth paper, is a captivating balance of realism and artful impression, from the fine twigs poking out of the textured nest to a dab of deep blue over the bird’s eye for depth. Anyone who sees it will feel her attachment to nature, especially to its animals. Read more…
Inside Riverbend, Donna and Frank Doyle’s 4,600-square-foot home at the mouth of the Herring River in West Harwich, windmills are as much a motif as nautical accessories and the creamy color palette. One windmill in particular-—built in 1924 overlooking a secluded inlet—is a centerpiece here. The windmill is rendered in countless photographs and paintings throughout the home, including several on a wall just past the home’s entrance way. It’s also the subject of an image mounted above the fireplace in the living room, a work supplied by Orleans Camera derived from a photograph Donna’s late father shot of the windmill. This windmill also once graced the cover of an issue of Cape Cod Life. 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.
The realistic coexists with the fantastic on the stoneware created at Flying Pig Pottery in Woods Hole. Using a rare sgraffito technique—carving designs into white clay through a contrastingly colored slip—the Woods Hole company produces a line of plates, bowls, mugs, and more functional items adorned with renderings of maritime icons like mermaids and fish. The company has just released a new line produced by using a warm brown glaze with green highlights over blue slips. On top of their tactile appeal, the pieces are durable and dishwasher safe. For more information, visit www.flyingpigpottery.biz, call (508) 548-7482, or visit their headquarters at 410 Woods Hole Road.
If you need an invaluable, one-stop guide to distinctive products created by Cape and Island artisan—everything from custom sinks to hand-woven fabrics on to stone fireplaces and much more—be sure to order this attractively packaged, easy to use architectural and design sourcebook ($39.95) from the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce’s on-line store. Many of the items have been featured on programs like NECN’s “Dream House.”For information, go to www.capeandislandssourcebook.com or call (508) 362-8910.
Looking for a way to spice up your table this summer? These fish pinch pots ($44 for a set of four) from Jobi Pottery are sure to be welcome additions to any home. Hand-made in a variety of colors and glazes reminiscent of vintage Fiestaware dishes, these bowls are adorned with one or two hand-painted, whimsical fish at the bottom. The pinch pots are perfect for sushi condiments, desktop organizers, organizing jewelry, or as a decoration. Each bowl is made by Susan Urtzman in her Truro studio, using original molds from the shop’s beginnings in the 1950s. Jobi Pottery also makes matching mugs, dinner plates, mugs, serving bowls, sushi plates, and more. To see the rest of the collection, visit www.jobipottery.com.
The days when cooking outdoors meant a long, involved process of starting a fire, keeping the fire going while you ran back and forth between your patio and the kitchen inside (always forgetting a grilling tool, condiment, or serving plate in the process) are long gone. Today’s lovers of outdoor entertaining can have everything right at their fingertips—from cocktails to appetizers to full-course meals—with outdoor kitchens that can be customized in every shape and style due to the development of easy-to-design-and-install kitchen components.
There are outdoor kitchens on the market today that offer a limitless array of cooking options—if pizza is your family’s favorite summer dish, you can purchase an honest-to-goodness pizza oven. If your guests love rotisserie chicken, you can have a rotisserie unit built into your outdoor kitchen. Kitchens can be as simple as an open-air grilling center beside a pool or patio, surrounded by porch furniture, or you can ask a contractor to come up with a design that incorporates a complete Caribbean-style oasis with integrated pool-side seating, a swim-up bar, and more. (For a related story, be sure to read how Marston Mills’ Artistic Grounds contractors designed a stunning, Caribbean outdoor kitchen for one North Falmouth family in our Summer issue of Cape Cod HOME, on newsstands now.)
Jason Hogan, head of marketing at Stonewood Products in Harwich and Mashpee, says that the development of high-end, easy-to-move modular components and appliances in stainless steel have made it relatively simple to design and install an outside kitchen—no matter your budget and space limitations.
“The development of modular components has really helped turned the outdoor kitchen market into a growing trend,” says Hogan from the company’s Harwich location. Hogan says that some customers want a relatively small kitchen, with a simple grill, perhaps a sink, and a small refrigerator, and others want the whole works. “Some customers want big gourmet kitchens with all the bells and whistles,” says Hogan, noting that Stonewood had one customer whose fancy outdoor kitchen rang in at close to $70,000. “Some people want really elaborate set-ups, fancy countertops—they want different kinds of stone, or seating for up to 40 people.
“The lightweight modular units, which are built off-site, are really easy for contractors to work with,” says Hogan, noting that Stonewood offers a full line of outdoor kitchen modular options and stone veneer choices, which can be viewed on the company’s web site (www.stonewoodproducts.com), along with a helpful Do It Yourself video on an actual Cape Cod outdoor kitchen installation.
The modular galvanized steel cabinets housing grills, sinks, refrigerators—even kegerators for those who want their beer cold and on tap—are then covered with cement board, which is surfaced with stone veneer. Stonewood has lots of veneer choices for outdoor kitchen customers. “We recommend the thin stone veneer, which is the natural stone,” says Hogan. “The natural stone has come down a lot in price and can be the same, or even cheaper, than manufactured stone veneer. We have a huge display here where people can pick the stone to match their house or their patio. It can be a mosaic look, a pattern—and if they want something that looks like brick, that’s easy too.”
Building an outdoor kitchen may seem like a costly investment, but as Hogan points out, the cost of remodeling a kitchen can be three times the cost of an entire, brand new outdoor kitchen. “When you consider that you can build a really nice, outdoor kitchen for $10-$12,000 in less than a week’s time—and that the cost of remodeling your interior kitchen can run $25-$30,000—you can see that an outdoor kitchen is a pretty reasonable investment,” says Hogan. “And the other thing is that outdoor kitchens are smart environmental choices. Instead of burning fossil fuels to go out to eat or to travel around the country, you’re dining and vacationing in your own backyard.”For information on Stonewood Products, go to www.stonewoodproducts.com.
Finely wrought, glass “sea bubbles” capture the alluring movement of the swirling blue and green waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and hold a bit of the Cape and the Islands wherever they are displayed. Each four 1/2 inch ball is filled with sand and seashells, resembling a sea bubble caught in the ocean waves. The ocean balls are crafted by local glassblower Michael Magyar, at his studio in East Sandwich. No two are alike; each one has a different design, color, and size. The ocean balls are part of the Cape Cod Sea Bubble Collection and can be custom-made in a variety of sizes, colors, styles and even can be engraved at no additional cost. Ocean balls are $58; for more information visit the Glass Studio on Cape Cod, 470 Route 6A, East Sandwich, 508 888-6681, www.glassstudiooncapecod.com.