Harbor Bright

“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.”

AUT10_Fea3_DeHaen10 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.


Nancy Berry is a freelance writer who lives in Yarmouthport.

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