Starting Over Yet Again

A Harwich couple tackles their second full-on renovation and end up with a place to call home for the ‘foreseeable future.’

By Laurie Higgins | Photography by Dan Cutrona

Two years ago, Glenn Vine and Heather Pearston were looking for a rental property to buy as an investment. They had completely renovated the Harwich house they were living in, tearing it down to the foundation and then building it back up. It was a process they both enjoyed, so they were looking for a new project. When they found a house with a gorgeous view of Wychmere Harbor for sale on CraigsList {style is all lower caps-DR}, they looked at it the next day and decided then and there that they were going to move.

Starting from the bottom

The house was in pretty rough shape, so Vine and Pearston hired Trevor Kurz and his team at Kurzhaus Designs to do a total home renovation from the bottom up. The original house was just sitting in the dirt, with no real foundation or basement, so the first thing Kurz did was rebuild all the floor joists and put in a fake floor system so they could lift the building up to dig a basement.

“The basement is a ten-foot basement to be finished later,” Kurz says. “What’s really cool about it is you can hide your ductwork and still have an eight-foot ceiling down there.”

The footprint of the new house is exactly the same as the old house, which Kurz estimates as having been built in the 1890’s. He had to tear off the front section of the home because it was too far gone to save, but the homeowners decided to keep the kitchen on the front of the house where it was originally located.

“We lived in the house the first summer after we bought it and started construction on October first,” Vine says. “That way we could kind of get a feel for the house and see what we liked. One of the things we really enjoyed was having the kitchen on the front with the wrap-around farmer’s porch, where we spend a lot of time people watching. It also works well for entertaining, which we do quite often.”

Let there be light…and storage

Kurz designed the snug eat-in kitchen and built the custom cabinetry in-house, which is one of his specialties. Space-saving features like corner drawers and a beautiful center island make the kitchen a joy to cook in. Viking appliances and black granite countertops add an elegant touch, as does the attractive tile backsplash and retro light fixture.

On the wrap-around farmer’s porch out front, Vine, who works for Pella Windows, opted to put skylights in the vertical grain fir ceiling because he and Pearston learned in their last construction project that a covered porch really robs the light from the adjoining room.

“The skylight wasn’t to give light to the porch,” he says. “It was actually to draw light into the kitchen.”

Making the most of the view

The house is a half-upside-down house, with a living room on the second floor and the master bedroom on the first floor in what used to be a garage. The master bedroom has built-in drawers and French doors leading to the side yard. The private master bath features a glass-enclosed shower and more custom cabinetry. A utility closet in the hallway was turned into a lovely half bath for guests.

“A lot of people say to put your bedroom where the views are but I don’t really see the purpose in that,” Vine says. “You sleep in the bedroom. You don’t entertain in there.”

The second-floor living room used to have low ceilings and only two windows. Now it has a bumped up ceiling for a more spacious feel and window-lined walls to take advantage of the stunning water views. A new stairwell with a ship’s ladder leads to a cupola and a 450-square-foot deck on the flat, back section of the roof. The views from the deck inspired nautical touches such as red and green boat navigation lights and cable rails that don’t obstruct the view when sitting down.

Originally Vine and Pearston planned to keep the staircase to the second floor more traditional with wooden banisters, but in a last minute decision they opted to use the same cables as the deck for a sense of continuity.

“The biggest changes to the second floor were in the layout,” Kurz says. “There was one bedroom up here and no bathrooms. There are now two bedrooms and a Jack-and-Jill bath.”

Flooring throughout the house is stained white oak, which is both resilient and attractive. Wide-trim woodwork throughout offers another period-appropriate detail. The rebuilt and redesigned home is now bright and airy thanks to 47 new windows and doors.

“We’re really happy where we are now so we’re going to stay put for the foreseeable future,” Vine says. “We never thought we’d be able to afford a house in this area. I love the views that we have. We’re able to keep the boat on a dock across the street. It’s just perfect.”

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