Captain’s Quarters

An updated sea captain’s home sails into this century.

By Laurie Higgins | Photography by Christian Scully

Katie Ragan and her husband, John, were sure of two things when they started shopping for a summer home: they wanted it to be located in Harwich Port, Mass., and they wanted a water view. But after seeing an antique captain’s home built circa 1840, they were instantly smitten and purchased the Harwich Port property within the hour, despite its landlocked views.

Starting Light

That was back in 1994. They knew the house would eventually need to be renovated, but at first they just made some cosmetic changes. In 2008, the stunning wraparound front porch began to fall off. The Ragans hired McPhee Associates of Cape Cod to renovate it.

Builder Rob McPhee kept the original stone foundation on the porch, replaced the concrete slab flooring and added new columns. A white bead board ceiling enhanced the romantic period charm and the porch became a favorite gathering place for family and friends.

Standout Features

One of Ragan’s favorite features of the renovation is the reclaimed antique pine floors in the living room, dining room and kitchen. A compass rose is painted on the flooring in front of the new bar in the dining room. “There were two smaller sliders in the dining room, so we took those out and put one big slider in that leads to an outdoor kitchen and courtyard area,” McPhee says. The courtyard is bluestone with cobblestone edging. A new stone fire pit is located in the center of the grassy backyard where the family now spends a lot of their time.

In the interior kitchen, every effort was made to create a sense of period. The bricks from the dining room fireplace are exposed and have been whitewashed. Storage is a combination of cabinetry and old-fashioned-style shelving. An existing piece of furniture was given a new top to become a dining island that matches the granite countertops. A tile mosaic over the stove features a map of Cape Cod. A Boos Block butcher block adds an extra work space in the now spacious kitchen that was previously a small kitchen and bath.

Upgrading Sleeping Quarters

Guest rooms, both under and at the top of the central staircase, were given makeovers with fresh paint and carpeting. The sons’ bedroom features fun nautical details and built-in dressers for extra storage and a finished look. As a place for the sons to relax with friends and each other, McPhee built a dormer with a raised ceiling height.

The master suite is off a separate, enclosed hallway filled with new storage space. “In the master bedroom, we raised the ceiling a bit and made it a tray ceiling,” McPhee says. “We added a round window over the bed so that it looks like a porthole in a ship. Board and batten on the walls created the old Cape Cod look.”

The exterior of the house was re-shingled and Ragan chose new shutters with vintage appeal. Exterior plantings include traditional climbing roses and hydrangeas. Wide grassy swaths of lawn contribute to the total effect. “I wanted it to look like a captain’s home, which is what it once was,” Ragan says. “But now everything is more open and more usable. I wanted to keep it simple and comfy. That’s the way both of my homes are.”

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