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The Cottage on the Cape

It is “This Old House’s” first time on Cape Cod for the 2020 Idea House, featuring quite the forward-thinking floor plan

Since 1979, “This Old House” has been influencing the world of home improvement through their ground-breaking television program where they share tips and tricks while renovating challenging, yet charming, historic homes. As the first series of its kind, “This Old House” sparked the general public’s interest in the inner workings of home building and design. In 2015, continuing to inspire creative thinking, the franchise launched  the  Idea House to showcase innovative building practices and products through an annual new home build. From New Canaan, Connecticut to Narragansett, Rhode Island, each Idea House has pushed the envelope with fresh practices and styles. This year, the program finds itself in Eastham for a contemporary build in a town that embraces new, affordable options.

At the turn of the new decade, the “This Old House” team envisioned a small, functional space for the next Idea House. The 2017 Cape Cod Young Professionals House Design Contest winner was the perfect fit. The contest called for accessible housing plans for young families on Cape Cod. One of the winners, Providence’s Union Studio Architecture & Community Design’s “Side Hustle House,” proposed a resourceful plan that provided space for additional income within the home. Matt Cole, President & CEO of Cape Associates in Eastham, stepped in as the builder, “This Old House” came along in the fall of 2019, and the project took off. 

“Our whole mantra at “This Old House” is, ‘Build your dream. Do it right.’ And, that is what we try to convey through our Idea Houses. We look for top-notch builders, architects and partners in these homes. We have had such amazing responses from so many manufacturers, retailers, and showrooms who are participating in this project. This specific home has really been a hit; it just seems to have resonated because the story line is so interesting,” Claudia Jepsen, Vice President of Marketing at This Old House, says. 

“The Cottage on the Cape” provides two income generating opportunities. First, the Accessory Dwelling Unit off of the back of the home can function as a separate rental space. Second, the garage will serve as a creative studio space. Such conveniences modernize the home, amplifying square footage with purposeful amenities. “The home accomplishes the idea of a flexible design. Calling out the need for an in-law apartment is a huge aspect,” Andrea Baerenwald, Director of Marketing at Cape Associates, says. 

On the exterior, classic Cape Cod style is given a modern twist. Atlantic blue shingles and black windows add a modern touch while upholding the traditional look. “I think the look and feel of the design speaks to New England. All of the materials take into consideration the Cape Cod climate, like the harsh salty air and frequent winds,” Baerenwald adds. The tight building envelope furthers the home’s affordability, with a focus on insulation and product choices, like triple-paned windows. Indoors, the comfortable floor plan is in sync with the exterior’s aesthetic.

“On the interior, we are going for a slightly modern look with a mini-coastal vibe,” Jepsen says. The main home has two bedrooms upstairs and a reading loft, a perfect extra gathering space. The attached suite is complete with a living and dining area, bedroom, bathroom, and separate laundry room. Smart products are being implemented throughout the home, showcasing top-notch brands like AdvanTech, Aeratis, Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods, Elkay, and many more. Ensuring livable and tasteful coastal décor, Denise Enright Interior Design from Stamford, Connecticut will perfect the aesthetic inside. 

“At under 2,500 square feet, this house is going to feel right-sized. I think people are going to see the house and be able to envision themselves in it, which is important,” Jepsen notes.

The partnerships between all of the companies have united seamlessly, with all parties collaborating to create a paramount structure that will benefit the Cape Cod community. “Seeing this project come to life here on the Cape will be a lot of fun. So many of us have grown up in this business following ‘This Old House.’ The opportunity to build this with that team is a tremendous honor,” says Matt Cole, President & CEO of Cape Associates. “We hope the project helps bring awareness to the fact that there’s a need for flexible housing here, and that smart design is within reach.” With national suppliers on board, new products are coming to the Eastham home, bringing to light the possibility in smart, yet affordable building. “It has been a real community effort. All of the stars aligned for this project,” Baerenwald adds.

“The team at Cape Associates have been fabulous partners throughout the building process. They are very collaborative and thoughtful. Matt Cole is doing an incredible job, being smart and doing things right,” says Jepsen. With Cape Associates’ top team on the job, the project is expected to be completed mid-June. The home’s progress from the very beginning, can be seen via a live webcam available to view on the “This Old House” website. Additionally, the Idea House Build series, hosted by Chris Ermides, will release episodes chronicling the process on their site, app, and YouTube, showcasing an in-depth look behind the build. Multiple episodes are already available to view, revealing architectural decisions, specific product choices, and insider building tips. 

A true testament to the building possibilities on Cape Cod, “The Cottage on the Cape” is a beacon of light for local young professionals. With its energy efficiency, income opportunities, and smart products, the 2020 Idea House re-imagines all that a home can be.

For more information and current updates, head over to the “Cottage on the Cape” Idea House page on thisoldhouse.com.



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