A family of four finds a summer getaway in their renovated Chatham cottage.By Jessica Laniewski | Photography by Amber Jane Barricman
What we see isn’t always what we get. This proved especially true for David Leary and Seth Perretta when they set out to own a piece of the Cape they loved so much. The couple found the charming cottage of their dreams in Chatham, but quickly discovered the house hadn’t been lived in for years, and it showed.
Aging home…perfect location
“The home had great light and a beautiful, simple style about it when we first saw it, but had been neglected for a number of years,” remembers Leary. “It was in need of a lot of work, both esthetically and structurally.” The kitchen was original with painted pine cabinets and the single bathroom had undergone a misguided renovation nearly 20 years ago. The windows were also original to the home and there was little to no effective insulation, especially behind the wall radiators.
“We had been searching for a traditional ‘Cape-style’ house within walking distance of downtown Chatham and, ideally, one with enough of a lot to build a pool,” says Perretta, of the 1940s home which was once owned by one of the town’s founding families, the Eldredges. The couple was struck by the home’s pastoral setting so close to town and its strong architectural bones. They planned to paint the home white and live in it “as is,” but quickly realized that more renovations were needed than they had originally expected.
Aging home…‘ball of string’
Through a family connection they came to work with Kevin Boyar at B&D Development [of?], who helped guide them through the project on time and within budget. “Kevin gently pointed out the aging windows, poor insulation and what would become a discovered extra: the garage provided a large space that could be easily incorporated into the kitchen and the extra living space we so desperately wanted,” says Perretta. To this end, B&D Development turned the garage into a family room with a dramatic cathedral ceiling, enlarged the kitchen and added a shed dormer on the second floor allowing the creation of two large bedrooms and a second bathroom. The “ball of string” continued to unravel as new windows were added, a cedar shake roof was laid and the entire home was rewired and replumbed. The builder also did all the framing and finishing work as well in order to put their “stamp” on the aesthetic and kept Perretta and Leary in the loop through daily photo updates. Bit by bit, B&D Development built the family a new home inside the old one. Leary and Perretta were wary of creating a “McMansion” and were delighted to discover they had built a brighter version of the original one they had stumbled upon.
New home…family first
One of the motivating reasons to purchase the home was family; David’s father and brother live on the Cape and the pair wanted to be close to them when they came to visit. The couple, who spend the school year in Washington, D.C. with their two daughters, knew eight years ago they wanted to own a home in Chatham after vacationing on the Cape and Islands for years. They couldn’t resist the Cape’s beauty and its proximity to water, whether it is ocean, inlets, or ponds.
“We also wanted a place where our daughters could run free in the summer and be in touch with the outdoors,” says David. To this end, the family spends the summer sailing in Stage Harbor, playing tennis, swimming and doing art. Leary and Perretta designed the house so they could host family and friends and also have spots to sit and quietly read and relax. The couple wanted a home that felt lived-in and not just a hallway of unused rooms. They got a beautiful home that feels much larger than it is with rooms that seamlessly flow into one another. “We built a little space under the attic eaves — complete with air conditioning and lights — as a secret hide away for the girls,” adds Leary. “They have spent hours there playing creatively and having sleepovers.” The family also added a greatly desired pool to the property, which makes the outdoor space feel even larger.
New home…new lifestyle
The family loves their new home and the rhythm of each summer day; Saturday’s mean a bike ride to favorite breakfast spot, Hangar B and then taking their boat to North Beach to meet up with friends. The house is perfectly designed for adults and children; Leary and Perretta can have friends over for wine and dinner while the kids play capture the flag and hide-and-seek.
“We started the project in the fall of 2009 and showed up in the spring of 2010 ready to walk through the finished product like we had won it on a reality TV show,” adds Perretta. “We moved our furniture in and enjoyed our first summer season that year. It is the rare relationship between a client and contractor that ends so well and, in our case, ended in a new friendship.”