A new owner reinvents a Chatham classic.
The home has seen it all: horses in the carriage house and later cars in the driveway, summer homes springing up along unspoiled shore and wooden hulls replaced by fiberglass and diesel engines. Situated on a bluff in North Chatham, the sea captain’s home has experienced changing times and changing owners while remaining a prominent residential landmark on the town’s coast.
Having summered in Chatham with his family for years, he knew the seaside property well and kept an eye on it but was unsure the owners would ever want to sell. However, in 2012, they unexpectedly put the home on the market and by late summer of that same year he found himself the new owner. Its quirky layout and dated features did not intimidate the Maryland-based builder.
He decided on a full renovation bent on two goals: to revive the property’s historic charm while simultaneously making it a comfortable, welcoming summer retreat for friends and family. Not surprisingly for a professional developer, he quickly assembled a trusted team that included two firms from his home state, Vincent Greene Architects and Johnson Berman Interior Design, both of whom he had worked with on a renovation previously.
Knowing he needed an experienced contractor with local expertise, the owner reached out to Chatham’s Minglewood Homes, a full-service building company known for new construction but also historic renovations. Minglewood navigated the town’s building, historical and zoning regulations while meeting deadlines efficiently: the work was completed in just 14 months.
“The project was quite an undertaking,” explains Minglewood’s owner Timothy Smith. “So many different hands had touched the property so many times that there were different styles everywhere. Our goal was to unite all of the disparate spaces as one cohesive whole,” he continues, “and to restore as much of the original beauty as possible while updating and modernizing for the future.”
“The biggest challenge was undoing a lot of things that had been done,” agrees architect Vincent Greene. “There were some very interesting moldings and materials. Parts of the house were dark and not communicating well from a flow standpoint; they weren’t taking advantage of the available light and views. We needed to open up the layout and let it flow,” he says.
The renovation left no stone unturned. “We redid the whole house from top to bottom,” says Smith, who notes that the remodel included everything from a new kitchen and bathrooms to the removal of interior walls and a relocated front entrance. Outside, the rambling home gained a new roof and cladding; Minglewood also restored exterior treasures such as the barn’s cupola and the main home’s widow’s walk and covered porch.
In designing his new kitchen, the owner envisioned a room that hearkened back to earlier colonial days. Dana King of Crown Woodworking in Chatham crafted the custom cabinets, whose exposed black hinges evoke the colonial look. Soapstone counters, exposed reclaimed beams, high-back Windsor chairs and hanging copper pendants add to the historic styling.
At one point in the property’s history, a breezeway was built to connect the main house—a Shingle Style dwelling with Italianate influences—and the nearby carriage house. In time, the carriage house morphed into additional living space. “It’s very rare that you find a property with two very different personalities, the formal Italianate structure and the rustic barn,” says Greene. “We completely renovated the breezeway between the two and played up the concept of leaving one world and entering another.”
The newly refurbished carriage house is an earthy combination of exposed brick, cobblestone and natural wood tones. Its original wide-plank floors, which gently dip towards a central drain, were preserved, although the slopes made furniture placement tricky. The first floor is styled as a clubroom with comfortable leather furniture, a TV, game tables (including shuffleboard, a family favorite) and a full-service bar crafted by King from reclaimed barn wood. There are also multiple bedrooms—“The carriage house can sleep an entire family; it’s like a resort,” describes Greene.
For the interiors, the owner worked with Johnson Berman but also sought out local talent Heather McGrath to manage the hunt for furnishings and antiques and to keep up with the fast-moving project. Her Chatham business, Simpler Pleasures, is a combination home furnishings store, showroom and workroom: she has fabricators on staff and also creates her own exclusive furniture designs.
“He enjoys having his friends and family around him and likes to make everyone feel at home,” explains McGrath of the owner’s priorities. “He also wanted the interior to have a traditional New England feel, which required sourcing not only new pieces but also antiques and quality reproductions to complement the home’s historic character,” she adds.
It’s fitting that the renovation is representative of the owner’s personality—many conversation pieces, including a mounted tarpon and a historic ship wheel, were part of his personal collection. His passions are building, boating, fishing and family, and his newly redone home satisfies every single one.
Photography by Dan Cutrona
By Jennifer Sperry
Article published in 2014-15 issue.