With the partial tear down and rebuild of a mid-century Cape, a busy family of four gets a lifestyle upgrade.By Lenore Cullen Barnes
Photography by Dan Cutrona
Design & Build: George Davis, Inc.
We could all use a bit of sprucing up once we hit “a certain age,” couldn’t we? Such was the case with this classic Osterville Cape-style home, built in the middle of the last century. It features the well-proportioned bones and quality craftsmanship of its era, but the layout was definitely a throwback to a bygone lifestyle. Jeff and Nancy Bilezikian and their two young daughters had no need for a maid’s quarters, for example. However, after living in the house for almost seven years, they did want an accessible high-functioning kitchen. Other priorities that remained high on their list were a hard-working laundry/mudroom and improved overall flow. To handle the project, the Bilezikians hired George Davis, Inc.
“Like a lot of old houses on the Cape, ours had a weird kitchen,” Jeff says. “It was closed off from the rest of the house and wasn’t designed for contemporary amenities like a dishwasher. There were two maids’ quarters, barely the size of a closet, with a bathroom so tight you had to keep your head down. The ceiling was about five-and-a-half-feet high. The laundry room was made for a hand-crank machine, not a washing machine with the capacity for families today.”
Rebuilding for an updated floor plan
Jeff and Nancy wanted to open up the kitchen to the dining and living areas, update the kitchen to accommodate modern appliances, and improve both the laundry/mudroom and indoor/outdoor access.
“We didn’t set out to tear off the wing, but in the end it was the most feasible option,” says George Davis, who has known the Bilezikians for years and had worked with them on a previous project. “Our mission was to design and construct something consistent with the rest of the house so that it looked like it had always been there. Once we decided to tear down the original structure, we expanded the foot print.
“We were able to blend the exterior so it looked like it fit, including adding a second front door into the hallway leading to the kitchen and mudroom. We also added a second story over the new wing, with a guest suite that is not connected to the original second story. The old roof line (of the kitchen wing) contradicted the roof line on the rest of the house; now, it mimics it.”
Inside, says Davis, the Bilezikians wanted everything “very simple and up to date. It was all about function. Nothing was for show. Everything was designed for how they live.”
Staying organized with a new laundry/mudroom Prior to the renovation, Jeff says family and visitors used to leave everything outside the back door, which entered directly into the kitchen. Now, all the “stuff” that comes with a fun active lifestyle has a destination.
“Everyone comes in the back door, into the laundry/mudroom,” Jeff says. “Our daughters are coming and going from one activity to another and we’re all dropping shoes and towels, life vests, tennis rackets, golf clubs, fishing gear. Instead of being dumped outside the back door, everything stays in the mudroom. There are cubbies with shoe space and benches. We’re not trying to hide those things, but it’s nice to have a place to corral it all.”
The expansive light-filled laundry/mudroom includes a built-in bench with storage space below and built-in cubbies and shelves along one of the walls. Plenty of room for a large capacity washer and dryer is tucked behind double doors. White painted vertical v-groove wainscoting and a pale gray tone on the walls contribute to the crisp look the Bilezikians desired. “We wanted cabinetry and materials that are plain and clean and white,” Jeff explains. “The kitchen and pantry cabinets resemble the 1950s plain-front style associated with the age of the house.”
A kitchen for modern living
Oil-rubbed bronze hardware further marries the mid-century and contemporary looks, while radiant floor heating beneath the plank tile floors is a decidedly modern amenity. The flooring combines the resiliency a busy kitchen near the beach requires with the warm patina of its scuffed wood appearance. The center island, topped with the same granite as the perimeter counters, has ample space to prep food while chatting with the girls or friends seated opposite. The adjacent pantry adds an abundance of storage space for cutlery, china and appliances. With its bonus counter space and bar sink, it is a perfect staging area when entertaining.
Using the same materials throughout the renovated “wing” lends a cohesive, uncluttered feel. Tile plank floors, a granite counter on the vanity, and v-groove walls in the new powder room off the hallway leading to the kitchen and laundry/mudroom, reinforce the fresh Cape Cod tone.
By all accounts, the project was a smooth and mutually appreciated collaboration between George Davis and the Bilezikians.
“George is easy to work with, professional, and makes the process stress-free,” says Jeff. “We’re proud of the project,” Davis says. “We accomplished our mission with a quality outcome. We successfully met the challenge of tying the new construction into the existing structure. I really enjoyed working with Jeff and Nancy.