A Classic Collaboration

Cape Cod Home  /  Annual Home 2019 / ,

Writer: Elizabeth Hilfrank / Photographer: Dan Cutrona 

Harwich bathroom by Classic Kitchens & Interiors and JC Donald Company

Built-in cabinetry and mirrors contribute to the open, bright nature of the new master bathroom. The space achieves a refined feel, yet it’s not overdone.

A Harwich home is given a fresh start, thanks to thoughtful design by Classic Kitchens & Interiors and JC Donald Company

In July of 2017, Erik and Susan washed ashore from Sudbury, Massachusetts onto Harwich with the intention to stay forever and become area residents.

But just because the couple found the perfect location for their new home did not mean they were entirely content. Once they settled in, Erik and Susan decided that if they were going to be on Cape Cod, they needed to have the Cape Cod aesthetic. They sought to change their dark-wood, dark-tile-covered house into a custom, one-of-a-kind home that brought in the bright and open feeling of so many Cape houses. Their realtor gave them a recommendation of a contractor to reach out to should they ever want to change some things. That man, Don Connelly of JC Donald Company, happened to be the same man that built the original home in 1998. After seeking him out and then getting in contact with Barbara Darcy from Classic Kitchens & Interiors, the couple knew they were in good hands for a home makeover.

The saying goes that things always come full circle, and that could not be truer for Connelly. “It’s funny to see how times have changed,” he says. “Other people have lived there and made changes since then.”

The home renovation began with an investigation of some water damage in the shower area of the master bathroom. Upon realizing the damage went further than just the shower, the couple decided to take advantage of the need for construction to completely reconfigure the space. “Our objectives were to give a little bit of privacy to the toilet area, to move a wall by the closet, and to have a large vanity and make the room spacious enough for two people,” says Susan. “We wanted to make it more open, bright and cheerful.”

Harwich bathroom by Classic Kitchens & Interiors and JC Donald Company

The accessibility of the freestanding tub and shower will benefit the homeowners as they age in what they hope will be their forever home.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Connelly, Darcy, Erik and Susan, the plumbers and electricians, all goals were met, and the result was a bathroom worthy of a Gold 2018 BRICC Award in the Excellence in Remodeling, Bathroom ($15k-30k) category. The qualifications for the award lie in quality of craftsmanship, architectural aesthetic, creativity in use of space, environmental considerations, use of innovative technology, achievement of clients’ needs, how challenges were overcome, and superior installation. Thinking outside the box in use of space was certainly an area in which the designer thrived, as Darcy used glass throughout the bathroom in order to evoke a feeling of openness.

“We used a large mirror, and added mirrors to the cabinet doors to expand the space through the reflected light,” says Darcy. “The glass door on the shower also helped to keep the space open.” In addition to the mirrors being used to reflect light and add brightness to the room, new clear windows were also put in place of the prior stained glass style in an effort to let more light in. To further open up the space, JC Donald Company knocked down a wall to move the location of the closet door. It now sits in line with a straight wall rather than the previous design that had it nestled behind a tile wall for the shower.

Another feature that worked with the desired open floor plan was the use of built-in cabinetry, and it is something that both the designer and the builder believe added the necessary glitz to the bathroom. “We created wall cabinets to sit on the countertops that create a sort of furniture look,” Darcy explains. “They are built in and custom. The door style is simple, but the detail on the molding, the crystal knobs and the glass outside add a certain sparkle and shine.” In fact, the cabinets are what Connelly claims to be his favorite part of the whole renovation: “The cabinetry pops with the shower and tub. The entire bathroom pops.”

Harwich kitchen by Classic Kitchens & Interiors and JC Donald Company

The curved fretwork of the kitchen cabinet doors is a classic touch, adding an element of visual interest that enhances the elegance of the space.

Erik and Susan moved into this home with the intention to stay in it for at least as long as they did their previous home, so for a minimum of 20 years. Thinking this would be the last home they purchased, they wanted to make the space something they really enjoyed with unique detail but also something that would be handicap accessible, should they need it. They did not want cookie cutter, but they wanted causal elegance with nice finishes. With this in mind, Connelly, an aging-in-place building specialist, added some features that could be helpful as the couple gets older, such as a removable showerhead. “It was not the primary goal to make this space accessible as the couple aged, but it was something to keep in the back of my mind knowing these people would be here for a while,” Connelly says. “Curves in the tub area are helpful as people age, but also, the bathroom would just not look as good if there weren’t curves.” The curves here were not the only curved detail added to the house, however, as the bathroom was only one part of the entire home remodel.

Each bathroom in the home was redone—Rene Yang of Tile Showcase in Watertown designed the tilework—and Classic Kitchens & Interiors, along with the JC Donald Company, also tackled the kitchen. By adding curves to the molding atop the cabinets and appliances, they worked to create a unified experience throughout the home. The trim detail in the master bedroom also tied into the trim of the bathroom. Similarly to the bathroom, the focus of the kitchen was to brighten and open up the space without adding square footage. So, designer and builder got creative again. The dark cabinetry was replaced with all white wood, just like the bathroom, and glass doors were added to create the sparkle effect that the mirrors on the cabinets do in the bathroom. The same built-in design for the cabinets was used to create that desired openness. Both the bathroom and kitchen also feature tall ceilings, and the homeowners really wanted to emphasize this wow factor. In order to do so, the cabinets in the kitchen were lengthened to hit the top of the ceiling instead of leaving a gap.

Another request of the homeowners was to make the appliances less obvious to the naked eye. To achieve this goal, the builders built them in alongside the cabinets, which also helped to open the area. Like the cabinets in the bathroom, these cabinets had flush insets. The high-end detail found throughout the house allowed for subtle cohesiveness in what now feels like a bigger home. All countertops, both on the vanity and in the kitchen, were transitioned to marble in order to add light and glam to both spaces. A large fireplace separating the living room, dining room and kitchen was knocked down to take away from the visual separation between the rooms. Now, the three rooms easily flow from one to the next and create an atmosphere in which everyone can mingle while not necessarily in the same room. The space was also reconfigured to show off the view of the pond just beyond the home.

Harwich kitchen by Classic Kitchens & Interiors and JC Donald Company

In similar fashion to the master bathroom, built-in cabinet drawers and see-through cabinet doors add to the open nature of the kitchen.

The success of this renovation does not lie in individual talent alone, but rather in the unique way in which everyone worked together. The unity felt throughout the redesigned home is a reflection of the unity between all involved in the project. “The teams really worked together well—us with the design team, giving a little bit of input there, then with the plumbers and electricians. It was a nice project,” says Connelly.

“This was my first time working with Don—it was wonderful,” says Darcy. “The homeowners were really open to a one-of-kind space. I would sketch out certain ideas, and Susan would get excited. We really worked alongside each other.”

Susan agrees: “It was great because Classic Kitchens does a lot of kitchens. They know what they’re doing, and Barbara is a very talented designer.” She adds: “Don was excellent, as were the people who work for him. We’ve done home renovations before, and this was by far the best experience.”

So, 20 years later, with the same builder behind the hammer, this Harwich home looks like an entirely new place. “It was nice to go back,” says Don. “It’s crazy to see how much things have changed over time. Everything is about trends, and the trends are so different now.” Yet, no matter the year, one trend seems to always remain the same, and that is bringing family together to truly make a house a home. Thanks to the family of designers, builders and homeowners, that’s now possible here.

“We wanted this to be a home that our children, who are now all grown, would want to come back to,” says Susan. “And everyone has really enjoyed it. We walk in, and we like the feeling we get.”

Elizabeth Hilfrank

Elizabeth Hilfrank is a freelance writer who lives in Mashpee. A Cape Cod washashore, Elizabeth writes most frequently for Cape Cod Life Publications in Cape Cod HOME. When she's not writing, she works as a video marketer for a tech start up in Boston.