In the living room, the fireplace received a new fossil-embedded gray limestone surround. Taking his cues from abutting homes, Dick replaced the “spindly brick chimney,” which, he says, rose at an “uncomfortable, non-vertical angle,” with a stone chimney. With the living areas now enjoying a more open relationship with each other, the need arose to link them. The bull’s eye trim, seen on the fireplace mantel and used sparingly before, was carried throughout the house as one theme. Another is the neutral palette the wife selected, with added grays, pale greens, and soft lavenders.

Douglas Dick, principal of LDa Architects and Interiors of Cambridge and Chatham renovated a nineteenth-century Hyannisport cottage

Photo by Sean Litchfield

One of the goals for the renovation was to keep the impact on the front of the house minimal. From where the original, poorly placed staircase stood, to the back of the house, the structure was rebuilt from the foundation up, its integrity having been compromised by a series of what Dick calls, “bad additions.” A second staircase, linking the kitchen to an upstairs bathroom, was removed altogether. The second floor master bedroom, one of only two bedrooms in the original cottage, had been squeezed into a small space, while the back half of the second floor was used as storage. Mirroring elements from the front half of the house, Dick transformed that attic space into a master suite by adding 45-degree bays and raising the roof, literally, with a new tower element. “If not for the bays,” he says, “the bed would fill up the entire room.” A third bedroom was added, as was a third bathroom, all of which were outfitted in Waterworks tile in configurations the wife designed.

Douglas Dick, principal of LDa Architects and Interiors of Cambridge and Chatham renovated a nineteenth-century Hyannisport cottage

Photo by Sean Litchfield

The original kitchen may have been serviceable in its day, especially given that guests of the Swiss Cottage Colony enjoyed meals in a common dining hall, but it in no way could accommodate the nightly preparation of the fresh vegetables from the family garden, or the catch of the day the husband, an avid fisherman, brings home. Just to reach the kitchen was an ordeal in itself and required one to pass through three doors.

The new L-shaped kitchen is both functional for every day use and perfect for entertaining, especially when the large pocket doors of the husband’s office are opened to proffer guests additional seating. Colorful fishing flies, which now hang here and there in the home, are expected to take over the office desk as the husband moves into full retirement. The kitchen’s Shaker-style cabinets reflect the wife’s preference for simplicity. “I like to edit rather than add,” she says, explaining her current design style. In selecting the marble for the island and counters, she could not help but fall for one called “Storm at Sea.” Dick extols its practical virtues: “It has a leather-finish texture, which is really lovely and functional. Dark marble often shows rings, but because of the textural surface, this marble avoids those foibles. It is a beautiful material and feels great.” Adding even more beauty to the kitchen is the breakfast nook, cozying up in the same spot as its predecessor. From this little bay, the couple can sip their coffee while watching graceful sailboats floating toward the Sound.

A small porch off the kitchen and a circular brick terrace, painstakingly laid out by hardscape contractor Gary Blondin, are new additions, perfect for intimate gatherings, but when the extended family and friends come together, an antique barn standing in the midst of the shared lawn shifts from storage space to special events venue. Another addition to this part of the house is a spacious laundry and mudroom, one of the key requests for the renovation. The new draping rooflines that shelter all of these spaces give the back half of the house the same captivating architectural interest enjoyed by the front.

Dick’s directive in updating the home included respecting its “wonderful diminutive scale,” and when it came time to furnish the new spaces, the clients chose cottage-size pieces that are big on charm. Some came from their global travels, like the petite Korean apothecary in the second -floor hall and the Asian chest sitting under a painting by English painter Haydn Cornner in the living room. Others are hand-me-downs, like several of the lamps that came from the wife’s grandmother’s cottage. A few items were picked up from Ebay, and still others, like some of the bureaus the wife had stripped and refinished by Dip ’N Strip in Hyannis, were left by the previous owners. The couple already owned many of the couches and chairs, but they received new life when reupholstered by Cape Cod Upholstery Shop in South Dennis.

The cottage’s square footage did not change much, but its character and convenience were decidedly enhanced. “This was not a project with big gestures,” says Dick. “We restored shine to a traditional cottage.”

For more information, visit lda-architects.com.