In the process of building and remodeling homes on Cape Cod, we see a distinct design style and sensibility emerging from our clients’ choices. Whether they are in Falmouth, Osterville or Chatham, our clients ask for a casual elegance we call “Cape Cod coastal.” If you travel off-Cape, just a mile or two past either bridge, it’s just not the same.
Many of our clients are building or remodeling a second home on Cape Cod—a retreat from the stress of their hectic lives in Greater Boston, Connecticut or New York. “After our youngest went off to college, we regrouped and noticed that our fondest life memories, both from our childhood and as a young family, were on Cape Cod,” says one new homeowner in Pocasset. “And we wanted more of that. We wanted a simpler lifestyle with space to create more memories with our kids and grandkids.” Grandkids are a common theme around here. A few weeks ago we received thank-you notes from all five grandchildr
en of a homeowner on Bourne’s Matinee Island, who added a dormer with new bedrooms, bunk beds for the kids, an outdoor shower and cupola. “The cupola is my guilty pleasure” she says.
Clients typically want a space that retains the Cape Cod cottage style, scale and charm, with the addition of carefully chosen, high-end features such as a redwood wine cellar and tasting room for a collection of fine wine, customized storage for fishing rods and boating gear, or a one-of-a-kind handmade chandelier.
Longfellow’s owner, Mark Bogosian, defines this approach as “casual elegance.” “By respecting the architectural scale and natural lines of a space, using beautiful materials and finishes that reflect the natural environment and then adding smart, customizations that are in line with the homeowner’s interests and lifestyle, you get a comfortable space that really can elevate your quality of life,” he says.
Cottage Inspired Modern Living Many of the iconic features that we typically attribute to a Cape Cod cottage design were historically used out of a necessity to survive the cold, windy and wet climate. Early Cape Cod homes had a floor plan with one common room used for daily living, cooking and dining. Cape Codders would typically gather around a large stone fireplace that helped conserve heat, while wainscoting and bead board addressed the problem of preventing moisture within interior walls. Large open floor plans with a combined kitchen, dining room and family room are a popular choice today, and nothing evokes a Cape Cod coastal look better than bead board and wainscoting. “We use bead board often for kitchens, bathrooms, hallways and staircases,” says Mark Bar, Longfellow’s lead designer. “Sometimes a hint of bead board works well as a design element on cabinets, or as a backing to custom built-in shelving. Beaded, recessed panel wainscoting with a thin chair rail and coffered ceilings are two additional elements that often work well in a Cape Cod coastal home, adding sophistication without overpowering the room.”
Natural Light, and Lots of White Another of our clients told us: “It was on one of those stunning, late summer beach days that my husband and I decided to build our second home in North Falmouth. That same afternoon I picked up a shell from the sand and realized I was looking at the color palette for our home.”
An ineffable quality of light that blurs the boundary between indoors and out has drawn artists to Cape Cod for decades. It also attracts our clients, which is why we pay careful attention to the placement and style of a home’s windows, doors, decks and patios in order to integrate light and landscape into our Cape coastal homes. A strategically placed window seat, reading nook, or a three-season sunroom, along with an open floor plan, can create a magical dance of light and scenery that progresses throughout the day.
Typically, a Cape Cod coastal homeowner chooses a color palette inspired by soothing tones in the natural environment: crisp, white walls, warm neutral tones of beige and tan, warm gray hues, cool tones of blue and green and maybe a splash of contrasting yellow or orange. Year after year, white cabinetry remains popular in Cape coastal homes, however, we are beginning to see variations, such as the addition of a contrasting darker gray-blue or green island or pantry cabinetry.
“Careful attention to materials and texture can really make a room spectacular,” notes Bogosian. At Longfellow Design Build’s new Chatham showroom, customers can admire a butler’s pantry that uses a custom-crafted barn door entry and a gorgeous 2 .-inch black walnut countertop with a marine oil finish similar to what is used on the decks and woodwork of fine yachts. We also feature a Leather Finished Quartzite countertop and a Cold Cast Zinc countertop. Says Bogosian: “Both are a great opportunity to add texture and understated sophistication to a room.” Whether you want a traditional cottage look, something a bit more contemporary, or a Cape coastal transitional style that draws from both, Longfellow Design Build can make your dream a reality