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Inspired by the Bay

A beautiful summer cottage overlooking Cape Cod Bay is a shining example of the success that can happen when a homeowner’s vision meets a build and design team’s creative ingenuity.

Photography by Dan Cutrona

A beautiful summer cottage overlooking Cape Cod Bay is a shining example of the success that can happen when a homeowner’s vision meets a build and design team’s creative ingenuity. Where a small, single-story ranch once stood now sits a two-story Cape style home that defines the casual lifestyle of this coastal region and embraces and reflects the relaxed atmosphere of a vacation home. When the owners of this Dennis property were searching for a Cape oasis, they had a list of priorities and at the top of their list was that the property be located near the water. “My husband wanted to have water views,” says the wife.

After finding an ideal property that boasted views of the marsh and the ocean beyond, the homeowners turned to Dennis-based company, REEF Cape Cod’s Home Builder to guide them through the process of replacing the small, structurally unsound ranch sitting on the land.

“Our goal was to seamlessly integrate a new home on the property that maximized and capitalized on the views and surrounding areas and at the same time enhanced the beach community,” says Jim Hagerty, vice president of REEF and the project’s lead designer.

The property was not without its challenges despite a beautiful location looking out over Cape Cod Bay. “The lot is quite large, but it contains a significant amount of conservation land, so we were limited to building the house on only a small portion of it. The lot also had a substantial slope that required constructing a 16-foot tall retaining wall, so that the first level of the house could sit at street level. We were faced with the challenge of building this wall in such a way so that it would not be obtrusive or unattractive,” says Matt Teague, president of REEF and the project manager. “But, we do love a challenge,” Teague adds.

The team located the wall just to the left of the home, covered it in a fieldstone veneer so that the structure—though integral to presenting the house in a traditional manner that offers plenty of curb appeal—is barely noticeable and blends in nicely with the surrounding environment.

When it came to the home’s interior design, the homeowners had a specific vision for their summer retreat.

“I really wanted an open floor concept—where the kitchen opened to the family room. And I wanted the home to have a cottage feel and be a place that was conducive to entertaining family and friends. I wanted to feel like we were on the beach even when we were inside,” the homeowner says.

A beautiful summer cottage overlooking Cape Cod Bay is a shining example of the success that can happen when a homeowner’s vision meets a build and design team’s creative ingenuity.

Photography by Dan Cutrona

This vision was achieved through a combination of Hagerty’s design skills and the homeowners’ choice of materials and paint colors, resulting in a space where it is difficult to determine where the interior ends and the outside begins.

The entry hall of the house leads into an open area that contains the family room, dining area, and kitchen. A large window above the kitchen sink and glass doors that flank the family room and dining area allow views of the marsh and the bay to pour into the home. On the second level of the home, the master bedroom boasts large windows that offer up nearly panoramic views of the entire property. White beadboard doors and kitchen cabinets juxtaposed with wide pine hardwood floors evoke the cozy feel of a cottage inside the 2,800 square foot home.

When it came to color choices, the homeowner let the natural beauty that surrounds the home serve as her inspiration—choosing grays and tans of the dunes for wall colors, while carefully and selectively bringing in the hues of the ocean. “I wanted every room in the house to have some tone of the water,” she says. Selecting Benjamin Moore’s “Harbor Gray” paint for the lower level of the home proved to be the perfect choice—better than she ever anticipated. “In the evening, as the sun sets and it is nearly twilight, the color takes on an almost periwinkle tone. It is just so interesting,” she says.

The homeowner selected a colored glass tile backsplash with tones of blues, greens, and whites for the wall above the stove. The material and the hues are ideal for evoking the feel of the ocean. “Because the tiles are glass, there is an iridescence creating that twinkle and shimmer of the ocean,” says the homeowner.

The fireplace façade, made up of river rocks and whimsical tiles that are imbedded with crabs, sand dollars, and other creatures from the sea, not only brings in the natural elements of the beach and dunes inside the home, it serves as a testament to the homeowners’ combined vision for the summer home. “My husband really loved the river rocks and I loved the tiles. I was thrilled that we could incorporate both of these elements into the facade,” the homeowner says.

The use of natural materials was continued throughout the home, using stones for the knobs on bathroom vanities, a stone floor, and a Carrara subway tile in one of the bathrooms.

Interior Designer Irina MacPhee, owner of Pastiche of Cape Cod on Route 6A in West Barnstable and Pastiche Attic in Dennisport, praises the homeowners’ use of colors and textures throughout the home evoking true Cape Cod ambiance. “Gray is one of the new neutral colors and it is a wonderful choice for reflecting the natural colors of Cape Cod,” MacPhee says. The designer notes that Cape Cod-inspired décor has become very popular over the past few years and is not limited to just this region—it is being incorporated into homes around the country. “It really is Cape Cod elegance,” she says.

MacPhee suggests choosing a whimsical print, such as an aqua-colored whale to hang over a sofa in the family room. “The whale picks up on the whimsy of the tiles in the fireplace facade and the tones pick up on the colors of the glass tile backsplash over the stove, drawing the eye around the entire room.” She also recommends choosing furniture pieces, such as two driftwood wing chairs and accent pieces such as water hyacinth baskets topped with sea grass planters, to achieve this casual style. Accessories—such as linen pillows with a Cape Cod design and fabrics such as jute or sisal rugs—bring natural elements into a room, punctuating the style.

The homeowner says two of her favorite design elements in her new summer retreat were things she had never even considered during the design process. “Jim had suggested that we include an outdoor shower and my husband agreed. Our guests love using that shower and it really has become such a necessity. I am so happy we put it in,” she says.

Her other favorite spot in the house, she says, is not even inside the home. “My husband wanted to build a fire pit,” she says. Located just outside the walkout basement door is a beautiful stone patio with a fire pit—a gathering spot for friends and families. “You can see the water while you are sitting there and hear the sounds of nature in the bogs at night. It is so soothing and enchanting,” the homeowner says. “If you build it, they will come. Our children love sitting out there with friends and so do we,” she says.

MacPhee says outdoor living spaces are a very significant part of Cape Cod decor and with the rise in popularity of this style comes the desire to purchase quality pieces for these areas. “Because they are seeing the outdoor living areas as an additional room of the home, homeowners want to purchase quality pieces at reasonable prices. I carry a line that has a firepit surrounded by four chairs with cushions. The chairs are so incredibly comfortable, people never want to leave. These pieces really do encourage the Cape Cod casual lifestyle,” MacPhee says.

Since moving into their summer home last September, the homeowner says it has become so much more than a house that they spend time in during the months of June, July, and August. “We have been there for every season and whenever we are there, we get a sense of the water, the salt, and the sand,” she says. For more information, visit, or

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