Cape Cod Cottage Revival
A family thoughtfully adds on to their Orleans, Massachusetts, jewel box home while preserving its original cottage charm.
Sometimes it can be hard to let go of the past—especially when the past is a charming cottage that backs up to the expansive waters of the Atlantic Ocean. So when Kathy Pattison and Dave Strickler made an offer to purchase a two-bedroom Cape Cod cottage from its reluctant owners, Pattison included a little something extra.
"I wrote them a letter," she says, "to let them know how much the house would mean to us and to our family. I wanted to assure them that we recognized all the love and effort that they had put into the home and to tell them that we would never tear it down."
That last bit was particularly important, because while the residence was in pristine condition, its prime location and tiny size made it an easy target for redevelopment. So ultimately, it was Pattison's parting promise that sealed the deal.
It wasn't long, though, before she and Strickler realized that their case of love at first sight had clouded some of their real estate judgment: The existing house was much too small for them and their two children, Hailey and Grayson.
In order to honor their word and preserve the home's cottage appeal, but still carve out some space for their family, the couple reached out to local company Kurzhaus Designs Inc., to help them get creative. Because the town's strict conservation regulations prohibited them from tacking an addition onto the top floor or the sides of the house, their only option was to add a new level below, a complicated process that involved raising the house slightly off its foundation.
"It wasn't easy, but it was worth it," says Pattison. "We didn't want a McMansion; we wanted to stay true to the house and allow it to keep its scale and its authentic Cape Cod aesthetic."
Get the look: In the living room, the sofa and white chair are from Crate & Barrel; the sofa slipcover is from Needle & Shears; the lamp is from Wayfair; the pillows are from Fabric Loft, 508-778-2625.
With the difficult construction behind them, Strickler and Pattison next gave plenty of thought to what they wanted from their interiors. First and foremost, the house would have to be great for entertaining and be able to accommodate a nearly nonstop rotation of weekend guests, both adults and children. So they outfitted a room with six custom bunk beds with nautical accents, like rope pulls on the built-in drawers and sea-worthy sconces.
Strickler and Pattison also undertook a kitchen remodel to make hosting dinner parties an easier proposition. "The old kitchen was cramped and had a small electric oven," Pattison explains. "We ended up converting the entire house to propane just so that we could put in a huge gas stove. Now, it's my favorite room."
Get the look: The cabinetry is by Harborside Woodworking, 774-696-5223; the Danze faucet is available at Wayfair.com.
In the rest of the house, the interiors have been thoughtfully cobbled together from a mix of finds from local antiques stores and flea markets, pieces the previous owners left behind, and a few custom-made furnishings, such as the dining room table. The dining chairs are vintage scores that add an artful touch to the otherwise neutral-hued room.
"Getting through the whole buying and renovation process turned out to be so involved," says Pattison. "We weren't ready to think about refurnishing a whole home all at once, so we decided to rework things over time, replacing them little by little."
In the bedroom, the couple opted for darker wood furnishings and accesories that pop against the light, exposed walls.
The gradual home décor evolution makes the house feel organic and laid-back, with the patina of well-loved pieces and worn furnishings lending an easiness to the place and striking a chord with everyone.
"The house is intriguing, but the view is captivating, too," Pattison says. "When people walk in the door, their focus is torn between what's inside—the exposed walls, the open loft, the wood ceiling—and that striking panorama of the water."
The office loft is the perfect place to enjoy the scenery, a cup of coffee, or even the occasional bit of paperwork.
Get the look: The chair is from Wayfair.com.
"We're incredibly fortunate," Pattinson adds. "Everything I hoped for when I wrote that letter is true: This is the house my kids will remember when they think back on their childhoods, and it will help foster in them a real sense of place. It's going to be tied to all of their fondest memories."
Kathy Pattison and Dave Strickler with their children, Grayson and Hailey.