Quintessential Cape

A charmingly reimagined West Dennis cottage epitomizes Cape Cod through and through

What does it mean to live on Cape Cod? Beach days. Harbor sails. Main Street strolls. Lobster rolls. This all might sound cliché, but it’s all inextricably part of the Cape Cod experience. And these quintessential Cape experiences speak to a larger truth—that Cape Cod living is easy-breezy living, the kind of living that relishes in and celebrates life’s simple pleasures.

A Cape Cod home, then, should reflect and encourage this type of living. That’s exactly what designers Sarah Waldo and Peyton Lambton of Washashore Home set out to accomplish in the renovation of a classic Cape-style cottage in West Dennis. The home was simply outdated, as it hadn’t been touched since it was built in 1956. Dark, yellow-varnished knotty pine paneling throughout made already modest spaces feel even smaller, and the vibe was more 1950s cabin than Cape Cod cottage. For the design team and homeowners Linda and Marty, it was important to maintain the 600-square-foot home’s distinct charm all while hitting the proverbial refresh button for a lighter, more open feel.

“We wanted them to have that original Cape feel and not just bulldoze the house and give them a completely different feel,” says Lambton. “They bought this house for a reason—because there was something charming and exciting about it. It just needed to be reworked with the layout and freshened up.”

How this Cape home’s fresh start came to fruition is actually quite serendipitous. “The day we closed on the house,” Linda recalls, “it was the off-season, so it was pretty quiet on the Cape, and we had always wanted to try this restaurant on the other side of Dennis.” That restaurant was Gina’s by the Sea, and it just so happened that Waldo had plans to dine at Gina’s that same night. Linda and Marty crossed paths with Waldo that evening and they struck up a conversation, the couple commenting on the old pine paneling in the restaurant. “They said, ‘What do you think about that? Because we just bought this little cottage…’” recalls Waldo. “She came to the house the next day,” says Linda, “and she was so wonderful. We just loved her ideas. We’re very fortunate to have met her.”

The project posed a unique challenge for Waldo and Lambton, having never taken on a house this small before. But their vision for the home was clear from the very beginning—a vision of a contemporary Cape that leveraged its existing footprint and materials. “I think a lot of people would’ve walked into the house and been like, ‘Aah! It’s so much work!’” Waldo says. “Or think that they have to tear it down,” adds Lambton. Not a single wall here was taken down, and a good portion of the original wood paneling got a second life.