Designer Michael Ferzoco of Eleven Interiors breathes new life into a Truro antique.
It’s not often one comes across an early Cape Cod period house in close to its original state—floors, windows, and moldings still intact. Tucked away on a quiet lane in Truro is a diamond in the rough—a 1790 structure with good bones and authentic Colonial charm reflected in several early architectural details. The house has an interesting past, typical of many Cape Cod homes, which often have structural additions from one period or another, reflecting differing needs of families through the centuries.
In this case, a circa 1840 house was floated down the Pamet River and added to the original 1790 structure. Despite its patchwork provenance, Scott Slater, a lover of antiquity as well as Cape Cod, purchased the L-shaped house without hesitation. He soon contacted Michael Ferzoco owner of Boston’s Eleven Interiors to renovate the spaces for 21st-century living without harming the home’s historical integrity. A master at reconfiguring interiors to maximize light with savvy design elements, Ferzoco began re-imagining the spaces.
“Scott was a wonderful client,” says Ferzoco. “He wanted to honor the age and antiquity of the house while enhancing it to its fullest potential.” Scott spent a summer living in the house to understand the rhythm of the spaces—what worked with his lifestyle, and what did not. After the season, he decided against changing the historic envelope of the house, choosing to work inside the existing footprint. Ferzoco began to create a design that honored the past without hampering comfortable contemporary living.
The existing kitchen was dark and small with a sleeping loft above it, a very traditional feature in early Cape homes where life centered around the kitchen. “Initially we thought we might use the loft as an office, but the ceilings were low and the room was cramped,” says Ferzoco. The designer had the loft removed and added a skylight, flooding the kitchen with natural light. He chose custom-designed cabinetry with butcher block tops. “We wanted to give the room a sense of patina,” he says. To achieve this look, a distinctive Paris flea market find was placed in the center of the kitchen—a well-worn butcher-block table.
“We left simple open shelves above the counters to further the illusion of age,” says Ferzoco. Today, the kitchen feels spacious, yet warm and comfortable. An authentic detail was the incorporation of rough-sawn ceiling beams that look hand hewn, painted white with simple wood boards between the beams. The attractive backsplash behind the commercial stove is another French purchase featuring antique blue-and-white tiles from the turn of the last century.
The dining space has a handsome, antique round table with contemporary chairs placed around it providing a great focal point adding effective dramatic contrast. Ferzoco introduced a bank of two-over-two windows topped with operable awning transoms to open the space to views of the private garden as well as allowing additional light to stream in.
The main portion of the house was originally divided into three separate spaces. To create a more relaxed living environment, Ferzoco removed the walls, opening up the entire interior. An original fireplace anchors the expanse. Originally the three separate rooms had quite different functions—a larder, a borning room, and a parlor—and there was a typical decorative hierarchy to the trim details in each typical of Colonial homes. “The original parlor’s window trim with corner blocks was the most decorative, so we replicated it for the other windows in all three spaces,” says the designer.
Ferzoco designed an attractive built-in, floor-to-ceiling bookcase to house Scott’s vast collection of books and sculptures. The king’s cut floorboards—original to the house—were sanded and refinished adding a warm glow. Scott’s notable artwork collection, by both local and French artists, is an appealing element throughout the house. Another original parlor was turned into Scott’s home office. In an ingenious recycling move, old window sashes that came from the original house were recycled and became the doors for a handsome credenza.
The only completely new structure was the master bathroom. “There was no space off the first-floor master bedroom for a bath, so we created a small room with a shed roof and a bank of two-over-two windows, which match the windows in the dining area,” says Ferzoco. On another antiquing foray in France, Scott found a deep antique claw-foot tub—the perfect finishing touch.
Today, this ancient Cape house has a contemporary layout with comfortable, well-designed living spaces on the first floor, an elegant master bedroom and bath, a light-filled kitchen, and a creatively sophisticated living room—yet none of the house’s historical integrity is lost. Despite stunning interior design elements that are the essence of 2012, the house glows with a sense of respect for Cape Cod’s past.
For information on Eleven Interiors, go to www.eleveninteriors.com
Contributing Editor Nancy Berry lives in Yarmouthport.
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