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Love at First Sight

A labor of love, Brenda Lee transforms a tired old Cape cottage into an enchanting home.

Brenda Lee transforms a tired old Cape cottage

The bright yellow siding and vibrant garden colors hint at the vivid spirit of the house’s interior. Photo by Eric Roth

At the end of a lane in Hyannisport, Brenda Lee found the home of her dreams. Dubbed Sunset Cottage, it was a small, well-worn home in need of a lot of TLC. It was also a home that had been in another family for generations, and they showed no signs of wanting to sell. But the location of the cottage took Brenda’s breath away. “It was really love at first sight,” she says. “I felt that some day, I would live in this house.”

Brenda Lee transforms a tired old Cape cottage

Sunset cottage homeowner Brenda Lee and her cat stop for a photo amidst the home’s whimsical garden. Photo by Eric Roth

Fifteen years ago, while away on a trip to Italy, Brenda and her husband, Peter, heard from the owners of the cottage that they were interested in selling. “We bought the house immediately,” Lee says.

The couple lived in Sunset Cottage for one year before they bought any furnishings. “I wanted to learn the character of the house—to let the house speak to me,” says Brenda. The home, which most likely dates to the late 1700s, was moved to its Hyannisport water-view location in 1948. Because this is a period house, the rooms are smaller and ceilings are lower, so furniture had to be scaled appropriately; many of the pieces that Brenda and Peter purchased had to be custom-made to fit the small spaces. They also bought antiques for the house, which are typically more diminutive than their modern counterparts. But the couple wanted to preserve the character of the house as much as possible. “So many people would have torn down this old treasure and built a massive home, but that was never our intent,” Brenda says. “The home is special just as it is.”

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