Form Fits Function

Keeping its character intact, an antique home is refashioned for modern times and a big family.

By Lisa Cavanaugh | Photography by Brian Vanden Brink
Build & Design: Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders
Interior Design: Julie Stein Design
Kitchen, Bar and Bath Design: Roomscapes Luxury Design Center

When a family of seven wanted their historic home on Cape Cod to become a comfortably modern seaside escape without losing its traditional perspective, they turned to the renowned architecture and construction firm Polhemus Savery DaSilva. “It was important to our clients that the home maintain its scale and character,” says John DaSilva, design principal at PSD. “It was quite a commitment on their part to make such extensive changes but still preserve the historical lineage of the house.”

Polhemus Savery DaSilva’s renovation included adding all new shingles, doors and windows without detracting from the historical attributes of the 1800s home.

Go with the flow

The 19th-century Greek Revival house, known as a “bar and gable” because of the traditional gabled roof and a horizontal wing, sits where the village meets the ocean in Chatham, Massachusetts. The home is christened “Time Out,” which aptly reflects the spirit of relaxation the remodeled home now embraces.

With five children, the clients knew they wanted a contemporary open flow plan with plenty of space for family time. “The floor plan was completely reworked,” says DaSilva. “The front door, which used to lead to a center staircase, now opens directly into the kitchen and great room.”

A new look

To achieve their client’s vision, PSD rebuilt the entire home on the structure and sheathing of the old house. The original facade was somewhat crudely put together, with numerous rough details, so the team corrected the flaws, made the home fully water-tight and added all new shingles, doors and windows, while still allowing the character of the house to remain.

The four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home previously had two awkward rear wings, which PSD removed and, in their place, created new ones with vernacular features that now suggest an organic growth over time. “The perimeter and footprint of the historic home still exist,” says DaSilva, “and the more elaborate classical details of the front portion ease into the simpler details of the added wings.”

The dining room and kitchen are on the street/view side of the house, with a living area beyond the kitchen and a playroom opening off to the back. Standing in the great room, one can enjoy natural light and a view from all four sides, including through the staircase that leads up to the master suite, which encompasses the whole top of the historic front portion.

Light, structure and design

Providing natural light can be a bit of a challenge with an older house. “Continuous windows would be out of character with this historic property,” says DaSilva, “so we had to judiciously locate doors and windows to bring in all-day sunshine.”

The front door is more symbolic than utilitarian, as the family members tend to enter the home via a cheerful mudroom accessed from their long driveway. The first floor also contains a powder room, home office, laundry and guest suite.

In the great room, both structural elements and design choices work together to create a distinct sense of separate areas. A drop beam over the wood-topped breakfast bar nudges it into the family space, while the more functional marble work island is kitchen-centric. The textured ceiling over the living area suggests a room of its own. “By centering that space there is an implied separation, but the social interaction and circulation flow remain intact,” explains DaSilva.

Addressing the interiors

“With an open plan, the interior designer helps make the whole space feel unified, but also gives each area its own specific aesthetic,” says Julie Stein, the interior designer on the project.“We strove to

To accommodate the family-of-seven’s lifestyle, the floor plan was reworked into a contemporary open flow plan.

keep the natural warmth of the home intact with an awareness of the need for practical materials,” she says. To both reflect the history of the house and add new touches, Stein chose finishes that were rich in texture and interest such as glass, marble and grasses. “We wanted to complement the coastal view and natural beauty of the home.”

Stein sourced furniture from Lee Industries and Maine Cottage. She and her clients chose Oly lighting for the dining room, Quadrille wall coverings in the half bath, and found a number of unique items from Oomph home furnishings. “We didn’t want a lot of obvious or direct seashore correlation. We were looking for a clean and vibrant modern design while accentuating the attributes of the structure.” A number of the lighting fixtures were selected to reflect the history of the house as well as the location, such as a stairwell verdigris lantern and maritime sconces in an upstairs bathroom.

A house for seven required carefully planned layouts and practical efficiency. Roomscapes Luxury Design Center did the kitchen as well as the bar and baths. The kitchen is equipped with two Miele dishwashers, a Wolf range, microwave and warming drawer, a Sub-Zero refrigeratorand U-Line refrigerators in the coffee nook and bar areas.

The family thoroughly enjoys their remodeled beach home. “The client has been a friend for many years,” says Stein. “They love that the home now fits their lifestyle and at the same time complements its unique history and coastal location.”

Harbor, outer beach and ocean beach are visible from the house and yard.

A mix of modern and traditional elements, along with a water view, in the first-floor home office.

Patterns and textures in the chandelier, tile work, furniture and wall-covering suggest the sea and sand, just a stone’s throw away.

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