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Collecting the Cape

Just as the exterior appearances of the home, barn and the grounds are the result of ideas gathered to create a holistic experience, the interior spaces continue the theme of collecting. In fact, the home feels like a well-curated gallery. The owners love art and thoughtfully display paintings in every room, including many pieces by local artists. They are also antiques collectors, so tables, dressers and other furniture items predate the original home. Their collections of clocks, barometers, rugs and china are extensive and complement both the design of the house and its theme. And, it is the exquisite attention to detail that really sets the entire project apart from a typical renovation. Craig Ashworth of E.B. Norris & Sons, Inc. and Scott Sisson of Homes By Sisson, Inc. led the construction teams for the house and barn, respectively, and paid attention to particulars such as the color of the mortar in the new chimneys and the use of unlacquered brass for doorknobs and other fixtures—“so it would tarnish nicely,” says Lichten. The window surrounds, built-ins and wide-plank wainscoting are just a few examples of ways that the new wing of the house remains authentic to the design of the original. “We tried to capture and preserve real 1930’s features such as the low storage cabinets in the older bedrooms,” says Lichten, who also delights in the number of “eccentricities” that they were able to weave in. The owners discovered and procured new mantles for the fireplaces in their travels, as well. “We found the dining room mantle in Connecticut,” recalls the owner, “put it in a U-Haul, and brought it up with us.” The new dining room is nearly square, which makes it difficult to furnish, but the owners discovered a square table from the early 18th century that fits perfectly and is ideal for four to eight guests. Lichten used Harmon-hinge doors, which his firm “uses all the time” as the segue from this more public space to the private part of the wing, which contains the master bedroom suite.

The transitional area between the dining room and the master bedroom is one of the most distinctive parts of the house, its main stairway. Lichten says, “The house really expands here. It’s a pastiche, an homage to the early settlers on the Cape.” Constructed of pine, the staircase is large and bold, in contrast to many of the home’s other, more subtle features. “It’s Jacobean style,” notes Lichten, “something you would find in a 16th-century English house.” One can almost feel the weight of this feature, and it seems to anchor the home both literally and in history. In fact, from the interior, one could be forgiven for believing that the new wing is actually the older section of the house, and yet the aforementioned increased ceiling height, modern amenities and other contemporary living elements belie the truth. 

“Often in renovations, the charm is obliterated,” says the owner, “but Kevin’s creativity allowed us to preserve it. It was a great collaboration with him and the builders.” 

Lichten adds, “We agreed on all the things that were wrong. I’ve never had problems working for friends, but this was one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve ever worked on. Many clients see the design process as more of a painful necessity…”

“My favorite part was the process!” interjects the owner. “And there’s not much more that we could do here; now it’s just a matter of maintenance. It really was fun, as all projects should be. Having known each other for so long and so well, it was just great to work together.”

Make sure to visit Kevin Litchen online here!

And check out other stories from our Winter 2020 issue here!

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