With the help of local Cape builders, a couple from St. Louis plans the perfect spot to spend their golden years.By Rob Duca | Photogrphy by Dan Cutrona
Paul and Nancy Schuster rented summer homes on Cape Cod for years and often were alarmed to regularly see workers with out-of-state license plates renovating nearby properties. So they were insistent on hiring local contractors when building their East Dennis home that overlooks Sesuit Harbor.
They chose Nordy’s Construction in East Dennis to tear down the 1,200-square-foot cottage that stood on the lot, and to build what will someday be their retirement home. Assigned the task of maximizing the dazzling ocean views – despite the presence of a home that stood between theirs and the water – while maintaining a roofline that wouldn’t overwhelm the neighborhood, Nordy’s teamed up with Northside Design of Yarmouthport to create a striking 4,200-square foot, four-bedroom home that includes an expansive back deck, two second-floor balconies, a unique octagonal sitting area off the master bedroom, a finished walk-out basement, and sophisticated stonework throughout the exterior and interior of the property.
“There are splays in the ceilings so the roofline isn’t so high, but it gives you all sorts of neat angles,” says David Nordberg, owner of Nordy’s Construction.
Building a Winning Team
The Schusters oversaw the project from their year-round home in St. Louis, which meant they needed to trust Nordy’s to understand their vision and bring it to fruition.
“We had never built anything before, and all we heard from friends were horror stories,” Nancy says. “But we were well taken care of. [David] was always very proud of what he did, and that gave us a good feeling. And we felt that with the economy the way it is, it was important to use good, local people. This project showed us that there were many qualified people out there doing good work.”
Under Nordy’s guidance, local contractors from across Cape Cod collaborated on the house. Handling the landscape design was Andrew Garulay of Yarmouth Port Design Group. Mitchell Landscape in South Dennis provided custom stonework, including a magnificent outdoor shower designed by Emily Wendel. Robert Marseglia of Brewster was brought in for the wood-burning chimney and the stone facing on the fireplace in the great room. Bead board ceilings throughout the house, most notably in the octagonal sitting room, along with wainscoting was completed by Anything Wood in Sandwich, while Olsen Marine of East Dennis designed custom round trim to frame stained glass windows in the master bedroom.
Other custom work was provided by Shaw Woodworking in Cotuit, M.C. Kennedy in Marstons Mills, Classic Kitchens and Designs in Hyannis, R.C. Civetti in Marstons Mills, Fairview Millwork in South Yarmouth, Neptune Marble & Granite in North Eastham, KAM Appliances in Hyannis, Stonewood Products in Harwich and A Touch of Glass in West Dennis.
Portions of the cottage were retained in the main floor library with knotty pine tongue-and-groove walls that were restored from the original family room. The kitchen, sitting area and great room seamlessly blend together, creating a comfortable and open space for entertaining. Five-inch mountain-grade red oak floors run throughout, with a massive wood-burning stone fireplace serving as the centerpiece.
The lay of the land
The Schusters love to cook, so the kitchen design was a critical component. A multi-level center island, with a wood counter-top set above granite, includes a built-in microwave drawer along with storage trays and roll-out shelves. Double wall ovens and a six-burner Wolf stove more than satisfied the homeowners’ needs.
A guest bedroom and a family room with a wood stove and engineered oak floors make the walk-out basement a wonderful spot to retreat.
On the second floor are the master bedroom, two guest bedrooms and a loft area. The sitting area off the master resembles a lighthouse, following the nautical theme throughout the home. A coffered bead board ceiling and stained glass windows add elegance to the space. A balcony is accessed from both areas, and it has quickly become a favorite spot for the homeowners.
“It’s where we have coffee and cocktails, and watch the sunsets and the beautiful boats coming in and going out,” Nancy says.
Grade changes result in A + stonework
One of the challenges in building the house was the significant grade changes from front to back on the sloping lot. The extensive exterior stonework resolved that issue, and also led to an eye-catching outdoor shower.
“We designed the stone walls to be part of the shower as a way to transition on the grade. That’s a nice feature,” Nordberg said.
The Schusters call it their “Fred Flintstone shower,” and think of it as yet another touch that makes their home special.
“Everything in this house was done with love and care,” Nancy said. “We wanted this to be a big family home. It was important to have a place where family and friends could all gather. And that’s what we have.”