Into the Woods

A second home in Falmouth becomes a wooded wonderland for a couple with a passion for entertaining, being creative and appreciating the natural beauty of cape cod. 

In the most fantastical works of great literature, there’s almost always a mystical forest: wooded and enigmatic, it’s a place for lovable protagonists or notorious villains to gather, contemplate, dream and adventure. Little Red Riding Hood went traipsing through the woods to her grandmother’s house. Lucy Pevensie stumbled through a wardrobe into snow covered ferns until she met a seemingly friendly fawn in Narnia. In The Wind in the Willows, Mole traverses the “Wild Wood,” hoping to meet Badger, and in Harry Potter, young wizarding students are warned of the precarious mysteries of “The Forbidden Forest.” Sometimes these larger-than-life settings represent love, the complicated intertwining of branches mimicking all the most complex intricacies of amour. Sometimes they stand as a symbol of confusion, as when Alice finds herself lost in the darkest parts of Wonderland. Regardless, the literary presence of a forest is almost as timeless as the stoic, storied stumps of the oldest trees, and the most heralded fantasies are made all the better for the enchanting, mysterious presence of these sylvan glades. 

This home in Sippewissett embraces the natural splendor of Cape Cod, with an interior fit for sprites, fawns and all manner of fairytale creatures.

Stepping into Judi and Larry’s Falmouth home is enough to make one feel like they have just stepped into the pages of James Lapine’s “Into the Woods,” maybe even onto the stage of the Globe Theater where the musical adaptation first debuted, except in this story the backdrop leads to beautiful Buzzards Bay. Support columns made from southern yellow pine trees are scattered throughout the home; when coupled with the open floor plan and the predominance of glass doors and windows, they provide a whimsical atmosphere and an intricate segue into the landscape. “We always start our work with the site: the land, the views and the sunshine,” says architect Jill Neubauer. “The clients were aesthetically open and just excited to see what came out of the process. Between the home and the water, are protected trees, so that inspired us to take that woodland landscape and see it as a filter to the view rather than a barrier.”

Judi and Larry first purchased the home adjacent to their own in Sippewissett with the idea of turning it into a modest guest house. “We had this small expansion idea. It was only supposed to be a garage,” explains Judi with a chuckle. “But as we started talking more, it became obvious that we wanted a lot of open space for our family to spend time together.”

The interior draws from the many varying colors of the trees outside the home—from off-white on a dry, sunny day to warm purple after a fresh rain shower. The lighting fixtures hang above the island as a perfect homage to Neubauer’s artful design.

“It was a design journey,” adds Neubauer. “The home kept evolving and the more excited that Judi and Larry got about the project, the more they wanted the home to do for them.” The couple took their time with the design (about four years to be exact), making sure that the home met its full potential, complete with an art studio, screened in porch and, of course, a “man cave” for Larry. “It was worth it not to rush,” says Judi. “Taking our time really let us think about how to maximize the space.”

With a background in liberal arts and fine arts, that Neubauer credits as a never-ending well of inspiration from which to draw, and a masters degree in architecture from Harvard University, it’s no wonder that she creates unbelievable spaces that feel as if they are straight from the pages of a storybook. Indeed, the homes that Neubauer dreams up can easily be considered works of art in their own right—thoughtfully conceptualized and masterfully designed. “I’m particularly drawn to second homes and the place they hold in family memories,” she says, explaining that Judi and Larry presented her with the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into those themes.

“They were just terrific,” says Neubauer of working with the couple. “They are open-minded, joyful, brave and want to share their home with friends and family. You can tell that they did not approach the project with any preconceived notions; they just wanted to see what the site and team could make.”