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From the dining area, pivot doors swing 180 degrees into an intimate living room, one of the most traditional-style rooms in the house, complete with an off-white sofa flanked by two bamboo chests, a pair of club chairs, a linen-wrapped coffee table, and two nautical charts mounted on the dusty turquoise walls. An exit from the kitchen leads to an office/living room furnished with a desk, three club chairs, an antique drop-leaf mahogany table, a rattan lamp, a massive seashell-encrusted mirror, and a black-and-white photo of Donna with her grandchildren on the French wallpaper-adorned walls. Because the house was designed for ease of maintenance, there are few carpets, uncomplicated window treatments, kid-friendly fabrics, and simple decorations throughout the home.

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A railing with supports styled to look like canoe paddles leads upstairs. Two nearly identical rooms set aside for each daughter and husband feature beds and furniture from their grandparents, antique alabaster lamps, sea grass blinds, and floor-to-ceiling windows that lead to porches possessing views of the river and Nantucket Sound that rival any other in the house. The children’s bunk room features sets of bunk beds, storage trunks, and nautical blue vinyl golf lockers affixed with nautical symbols for each grandchild. The largest of the three second-floor bathrooms is windowless, but a mirror stretching from the door to the back screen of the shower keeps the light glimmering off the Carrera marble floor.

Above the garage, the game room is outfitted with oversized furniture including an Ultrasuede couch, a pine coffee table, a billiard table, autographed pictures of various sports celebrities on the walls, and a mammoth flat-screen TV. A bronze Moravian star lantern hangs from a cupola.

Up another set of stairs, the newly created master suite and luxury bathroom is a regal feature of the home. The room is handsome with contrasting formal and organic elements, bathed from floor to ceiling in a chamois shade. The king-size bed with bamboo frame and raffia headboard is surrounded by a Queen Anne loveseat and two dressers. Two sets of doors exit to the wraparound deck, and the window treatments with white linen draperies are intentionally simple in order to accentuate—not distract from—an incredible view.
The six-bedroom, five-bathroom home required new windows, siding, roofing, electrical work, flooring, and interior finishes. Still, the renovation was completed inside the home’s original footprint, and many pieces from the original home were either donated or recycled. The entire kitchen—cabinets, countertops, sink, and all the rest—was dismantled and donated to a newly married couple in a fixer-upper in New Bedford with a limited budget.

In sum, Riverbend is a marvelously functional, well-designed house for a 12-person family. The children can play pool in the game room, the adults can host a dinner party, and others can doze upstairs all at the same time without anyone disturbing anyone else. Five decades in with a renovation in the books, this summer retreat is poised to stir memories for generations to come.

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Jeff is the Managing Editor for Cape Cod Life Publications.

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