Longfellow Design Build identifies trends among its clients.Text and photography by Mike Ciolino
Whether remodeling a kitchen in Osterville, designing a custom home in Harwich or renovating a historic 1890s barn in Falmouth, baby boomers are making choices in architecture, floor plans, materials and features that give them access to an active, coastal lifestyle.
“The majority of people we see building or remodeling homes on Cape Cod are over 50 and from greater Boston, New York or Connecticut,” says Mark Bogosian, owner of Longfellow Design Build, a Cape Cod-based custom building and architectural company. “Our clients are typically baby boomers beginning to plan for their retirement years by relocating or building a second home on the Cape. They want a simpler, uncluttered life. They want to enjoy the Cape’s natural beauty, out-of-doors lifestyle, and they want more quality time with friends, family and especially their grandchildren.”
Longfellow Design Build architect Kelsey Birchenall agrees. “Without question, open-concept floor plans are our most commonly requested structural feature,” she says. “[It] allows family members and friends to be together while engaging in different activities in separate spaces.”
In many Cape Cod communities, where plot sizes were initially determined by the size of a family and coastal land developed as summer homes, modestly sized homes with smaller footprints are common. By utilizing or creating an open-concept floor plan with carefully planned sightlines, a family can “live large” in a smaller space with a greater sense of openness and relatedness.
In a recent renovation of a modest Falmouth home, removing a wall created an unobstructed sightline from the front door, through the family room to the kitchen at the far rear corner of the home. A bank of three windows was added to each side of the far corner of the home looking out onto a tidal river. This carefully planned, creative renovation created an inviting living space that dramatically elevated the overall feel of the home.
Regardless of a project’s scope, Longfellow’s clients typically want a home design that is clean, uncluttered and uncomplicated. The addition of carefully chosen and unique fixtures, materials and finishes can provide the pop of color or texture needed to contrast the white cabinets and neutral wall colors chosen by most Cape Cod homeowners.
Longfellow senior designer Mark Barr explains: “Every home needs focal points. A unique countertop material, copper range hood, colorful glass pendant light or an artistic chandelier are all great opportunities for adding color and texture and reflect a bit of the owner’s personality. We have a few unique countertop options in our Chatham showroom; a leathered quartzite and walnut wood with a marine-oil finish that our customers are very excited about.”
Longfellow’s clients appreciate craftsmanship, but also have a keen eye for what is worth spending money on. “Everyone wants top-quality and high-end finishes,” observes Bogosian, “however there are specific features in a home such as coffered ceilings, wall paneling, furniture-quality built-ins and custom cabinetry that go a long way in giving a home a high-end look.”
“We’ve spent time on the Cape every summer since we were kids,” shares one 50-something couple that is a Longfellow client. “Our kids are beginning to have their own families, so we wanted a place big enough for everyone to enjoy … A place to create memories that the grandkids can think back on when they have kids.” Isn’t that really what we all want if we are lucky enough to get it?