Coastal Character

A Cape cottage with a twist features a variety of architectural elements, textures and whimsical details.

By Jaci Conry | Photography by Brian Vanden Brink

For decades, a dated cottage sat upon this stunning cove-front parcel in Chatham. “The old house had been neglected and the yard was so overgrown you couldn’t take in the view at all—you barely even knew the cove was there,” says architect Sharon DaSilva, of Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders (PSDAB).

Design Credit - Polhemus Savery Dasilva Architects

A cupola the owners coveted sits at the peak of the garage roof, where it is capped with a playful copper weathervane depicting a rowboat.

When the new owners purchased the property, their main objective was to create a home that took advantage of the pristine setting. While the lot was being refurbished—down came the old trees with vines and weeds growing in them, and native plants and grasses were added around the yard to create a lush, verdant landscape—plans for an appealing new home that oozed individuality were drafted by DaSilva.

“The owners are from Maine,” says DaSilva. “They wanted a ‘Cape Cod cottage’—which is a pretty typical request we get here. However, they had a lot of ideas that they wanted to incorporate in the home. My job was to take the bits and pieces of things they liked and put them into a whole that made sense.” Not only did PSDAB conceive the design for the home, they were also the builders, which made executing the multiple phases of the project seamless.

The homeowners’ wish list included an eyebrow window, a balcony, a cupola, shutters with cutouts and an exposed chimney. Paramount was that every room have a vantage to take in the view. “We couldn’t include every element they wanted—but we managed to make most of it work well together,” says DaSilva. “There are a lot of details that make the home feel special.”

Indeed, the four-bedroom home, an expanded Cape with Shingle Style elements, has individual appeal at every turn. The powder room has a teak and holly floor, teak-paneled walls, a curved ceiling and a porthole mirror to evoke the feel of a yacht interior. Other bathrooms exhibit intricately detailed tile work depicting ocean motifs. Turquoise shutters with starfish cutouts beckon from the front exterior and foreshadow the relaxed, whimsical nature of the home. Inside the front entry, starfish cutouts also adorn the spindles of the main stairwell.

“The homeowners were interested in using various textures throughout the house to give distinctive characters to different rooms,” says DaSilva, noting the first floor’s teak flooring and shiplap-paneled walls, painted white. “This particular shiplap is known as ‘nickel space,’ which means that the intent is to have the joints be the thickness of a nickel,” explains DaSilva.

The coffered ceilings in the open kitchen, living and dining area on the first level are clad with bead board. The second floor also exhibits distinctive wood treatments, including a white pickled oak floor in one bedroom and a reclaimed wood ceiling in the study.

The eyebrow window the homeowners requested was installed in the central bedroom on the second level; the ceiling above it forms an intriguing arch. A ship’s stern balcony faces the center of the ocean cove and all three of the upstairs bedrooms have access to it. DaSilva incorporated the cupola the owners coveted at the peak of the garage roof, where it is capped with a playful copper weathervane depicting a rowboat.

On the main level there’s an informal nature to the connected, airy living spaces. The white kitchen cabinetry—designed by Classic Kitchens & Interiors—pairs well with pale blue stools at the island and the upholstered chairs at the dining table behind it. The adjacent family room is also awash with light tones. The area is anchored by a large fireplace—one of three in the home—faced with rustic Southeastern split face granite; the rough hewn reclaimed timber mantel was hauled down from Maine in the homeowners’ car.

Design Credit - Polhemus Savery Dasilva Architects

An eyebrow window winks at the pool.

French doors off the main living space lead to a three-season room that was originally intended to be an open-air porch facing the backyard—which now has a pool and built-in fire pit—and the cove beyond. “During the planning process it became apparent that the owners were looking to spend more and more time here—it wasn’t just going to be a summer home,” says DaSilva. “So we decided to make the porch a room with heating and cooling. It gives them another space to be in rather than the big open main living area, it’s more intimate and cozy.”

The ceiling is clad with natural clear cedar and the mahogany floor is laid in the shape of an octagon—yet another distinctive element that works to make this special home truly one of a kind.

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