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Changing Spaces

  Jean Bill Romeo

A family moves from one home to another, taking their belongings and their memories

Online only: Extensive photo gallery

The process of creating a home is the deliberate layering of materials and story, and certainly a very personal one. We collect items, accrue memories, inherit belongings, and accumulate treasures. As we look around our homes, images of where and when we added this piece of furniture or that painting to our environment often spur happy recollections of our lives. And when we relocate to a new home, new layers and forms take shape as we find ourselves reinterpreting our belongings and grant positions of prominence to things we may have almost forgotten. We are nothing if not minimally an odyssey of collections gathered along the way; a mosaic of memories.

This holds true for Jean and Bill Romeo, who purchased a special home on the Cape after several years of renting seasonally. One of their seasonal rentals was a particularly charming antique once occupied by writer Margaret Stanger. A bit of a local hero, at least in the local literati and bird-watching circles, Stanger penned “That Quail, Robert” in the 1960s while housesitting for a previous owner. The summer after nestling into the 1730s antique with their family of four as renters, the Romeos embarked on their search for a seasonal home of their own and happily discovered the Stanger house was on the market.

The decision to purchase this historical home involved a commitment to undertake a major renovation. The Romeos carefully restored the original charm and historic elegance to the structure. Builder Mark Nickerson of Orleans seamlessly integrated the new spaces with heart pine floors, millwork and paneling from a time when Cape Cod was still a relatively new colony, as well as multiple fireplaces throughout the home. Mid-Cape Home Center in Orleans became a key contributor in the remarkable transformation. “We were referred to the Orleans Mid-Cape location and worked with kitchen designer Becky Stoltz. She and the team were just fantastic to work with,” Jean Romeo says. Nickerson removed walls and thereby converted a closed-in galley kitchen into an open and interactive, functional space that integrated perfectly with the newly freshened living areas.

Just like the underlayment of a complex painting, the home’s architectural foundation, with all of the old world charm cherished by the Romeos, was set; now it just needed an artist’s brush work and palette. Enter Marsha Malone, owner of Nautique in Brewster, who applied her artistic touches by accessing one of her greatest tools, her color paint box, and with it brought the almost 300-year-old home into the present. A seating area consisting of a slipcovered loveseat and club chairs, grounded in a green hue akin to under-ripened pears, highlighted with teal blue, freshened the warm sitting room and immediately informed guests they were in the presence of the fun and sun found on the Cape.

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