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Transforming a Classic Cape Cod Summer Home into an Authentic Retreat

Cape Cod Beach vacation Home Brewster, MA

A quintessential Cape Cod vacation home sparkles on the bay's edge

"There is something meaningful about escaping to a place that feels a bit more understated, more natural, more cottage-like."  

The family knew the spot. They knew its wild tangles of beach plum and the unique rhythm of the tides that would allow them to swim shoulder-deep in Cape Cod Bay in an instant, and walk the beach, toes sinking into the soft sand, far beyond the jetties, mere minutes later.

They knew the Brewster house because they had rented it for summer getaways before making it their own. They were well versed in the Brewster home’s “subtleties,” says Treffle LaFleche, principal of LDa Architecture & Interiors, “how the sun moves around it, how the weather is, how it flows and how it sits in the neighborhood.”

Beach Home Waterfront Bedroom design with porch
This bedroom's high ceiling and balcony give it a one-room cottage feel. "It's playful," says LaFleche, "yet sophisticated."

“The couple had a complete understanding of how the house would be used,” seconds owner Charlie Gadbois of Wellen Construction. “Right down to the ergonomics of the kitchen—where he’d stand to cook a lobster dinner and where she’d pour a glass of wine. They didn’t have to think about that. They’d already experienced it.”

This made the homeowners an ideal client for what LaFleche terms a “careful and surgical addition and renovation” that would transform this classic Cape Cod home into a subtly spectacular, authentic retreat that plays up its glorious locale. A renovation so gratifying for the clients, reveals Gadbois, that they’ve enlisted the full team to build a new home for them near the city.

New England Cape Cod Kitchen Design
The homeowner is a big cook, even more so on vacation, so it was important to connect the kitchen to the main space.

By the sea, however, you’re rewarded by “uninterrupted views of the dune and the water beyond,” says LaFleche, all along the kitchen, dining and family space. One can almost hear the homeowners exhale, as they think: “I’ve arrived. I’m here. I can shed urban living and the hassles of daily life at the moment, because now the view of the water and the natural environment are there for the taking.”

Indeed, “the ocean, serenity and seasonal fun” were the priority, contends Mark LaFave of Maverick Integration Corp., who configured discreet yet functional systems that allowed the homeowners to have high-performance products yet keep the focus on “the herons flying over the bay,” rather than on television screens, “shrines of electronics” and 10-inch touch screens.

Classic New England Home Interior Design
While the home's envelope is traditional, the furnishings are more contemporary, striking a tranquil, beautiful balance.

Each new space is bright, open and thoughtful—from the contiguous dining and living areas adjoining the deck to the glistening chef’s kitchen to the dreamy master suite fashioned as a cottage just for two. Both the homeowner and interior designer Nina Farmer of Nina Farmer Interiors share a “keen appreciation for the vernacular of the Cape,” says LaFleche, and balanced traditional elements, transitional furnishings and contemporary glass features for a crisp, natural feel.  

This sensibility also informs the landscape designed by Matthew Cunningham of Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design, which features a swimming pool garden nestled in the front yard, as building on the rear shoreline isn’t permitted. The pool isn’t “overstated in any way” explains Cunningham. Rather, it’s “a quiet moment that fits the context of the property,” and about people and shared time.

“The pool is a discovery, cleverly nestled into the south side of the home and surrounded by the native plants you’d find at the beachline.”

Lined with “beach plum, bayberry, cedar and native plants” for privacy, the barefoot-friendly oasis includes a lawn big enough for badminton and a hardscape that fits a few chaise longues. It’s just enough, and it’s plenty. Drenched in sunshine, the garden blooms with pink roses, hydrangea and salt-tolerant perennials, and there are no trees overhead to impede that “incredible Cape Cod sky,” says Cunningham. “It’s magic.”

Cape Cod Summer Home Outdoor Pool and Beautiful Landscaping
Around the pool's perimeter, Cunningham developed a fence that will all but disappear into the landscape, showing only gray painted posts. Maverick Integration installed loudspeakers into the pool landscape that are controlled from a smart phone app.

Architect: LDa Architecture & Interiors
Builder: Wellen Construction
Landscape Architect: Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design
A/V: Maverick Integration
Stone & Tile: Cumar, Inc.
Interior Design: Nina Farmer Interior Design
Photography: Michael J. Lee and Eric Roth

"Prince of Tides" by Sandy Giardi
As seen in BDG Cape & Islands Summer 2016 edition
View the Digital Edition here

Also see: A Cape Cod Shingle Style Home Turns on the Charm featured in Cape & Islands Summer 2016

Featured in: Summer Homes & Style: Bayside Gem

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