A couple on the verge of retirement purchases a childhood home to renovate and make their own.By Courtney Raymond | Photography by Christian Scully
Set against a beautiful backdrop in the small, quaint town of East Orleans, Mass., sits a traditional Cape-style home that has a brand-new look and anything but an ordinary story. In the fall of 2007, Heather and Bill Mauke bought his childhood home. “Heather and I met at the Cape Cod Sea Camps nearby almost 40 years ago and always loved visiting Nauset Beach in the summer with our four boys,” reminisces Bill. “My parents actually built this house in the 1960s and I summered here for about six years. We always used to drive by to see it. One summer there was a ‘For Sale’ sign out front and two months later, we bought it.”
The property was originally purchased as a summer retreat for the Mauke family. But sometimes the best laid plans are just the beginning of the bigger adventure to follow. After commuting back and forth for a number of years, the couple decided to move to the residence on a full-time basis, with big ideas for an extensive and very personal renovation.
While the purchase was an exciting and happy-memory-fueled investment for the couple, it did not come without its challenges. During the decades since Bill had summered here, on Gilman Lane, the home had fallen into disrepair. At first, Bill, a former insurance executive who retired early, and Heather, an interior designer, took on the smaller rehab projects themselves but chose to call in the professionals at Cape Associates when they decided to renovate and expand the home.
Since the house features an atypical, open floor plan not found in most Cape-style homes, the couple had a lot of options. Bill and Heather knew they wanted to maintain some of the structure’s original features so that Bill’s memories of living in it were not completely obliterated. Keeping some of the house’s original appeal, the living room, dining room, center hallway and two upstairs bedrooms remain the same as before.
The Cape Associates team started with the kitchen, which was designed with family in mind. “Having enough room for our four boys who now have families of their own was extremely important to us, so we chose an open design with a large center island,” says Heather. French doors lead out to a courtyard and the backyard gardens.
The new four-season sunroom features one of the residence’s five fireplaces, tumbled brick floors and radiant heat. To achieve a summery feel complemented by hints of warmth for the cooler months, the couple selected colorfully upholstered rattan furniture but also coffered ceilings and reclaimed wood accents. “It’s a dining, entertaining and living space all in one. It’s my favorite part of the house,” says Heather. Bob Creonte, project manager for Cape Associates and the lead on the Mauke’s renovation, shared Heather’s sentiment about the sunroom, calling it an “outstanding” part of the home, and adding that her design flair made it all the more eye-catching.
The final phase of the renovation included an enlarged and renovated first-floor master bedroom with cathedral ceilings and master bath, as well as the second-floor office space and guest bedroom with a balcony. “We wanted a place upstairs close to our office where we could go sit outside and enjoy nature,” says Heather about the office/ guestroom balcony. The exterior of the home also received a facelift. New stone walkways, along with additional hardscaping and sprawling gardens that stretch over two-thirds of an acre, now adorn the property.
For other families renovating their homes, Heather has some sage words of advice from her experience as both an interior decorator and seasoned homeowner. “I think it’s important to know how you are going to live and how you are going to function [in the space]. That’s really the most important thing,” she says. “A lot of people want ‘the look,’ but your family and friends need to be comfortable. We entertain a lot and that was important to us.”
As for their experience with Cape Associates, Inc., the couple built such a positive relationship with the team that they now both work for the company. “This project was quite an undertaking, so it’s hard to believe that we started in March and were done in October,” says Bill. “Everyone was so great to work with and even with us living in the house for the last four months of the renovation, they made things easy. We’re proud to now be a part of their business.”