Trading Up

With an eye toward year-round Cape Cod living, a couple seizes the opportunity to have a house with million-dollar views.

By Jaci Conry | Photography by Dan Cutrona
Pictured above: A thousand square feet of wraparound decking was important to the homeowners, who love to relax and entertain outdoors. The stainless-steel cable-wire railing allows for unimpeded water views.

While Cecile and Howard Curtin loved their seasonal home in West Harwich, they wanted a larger place that felt more permanent. Eventually, the New Jersey empty-nesters planned to move year-round to the Cape.

The couple considered several different scenarios, from upgrading the home they owned to renting a larger property. Meanwhile, on their walks they kept passing by a house on Herring River that was on the market. “It was such a gorgeous location,” says Cecile. “But it was priced higher so we weren’t sure.”

In contrast to the light-toned interior color scheme, the Curtins opted to infuse the exteriors with some dark colors when they selected black-trimmed Marvin windows framed by heavy-duty black shutters on hinges.

Eventually, the Curtins found they couldn’t resist the prospect of having a home privy to such beautiful views of the river and Nantucket Sound. They purchased the home in 2014, hoping to add a second floor to it. “However, the foundation was in really poor condition and couldn’t handle the weight of another level,” says Cecile.

To create the home of their dreams, it was necessary to rebuild on the site. The new home sits within the existing footprint—with a second floor. Since it abuts considerable conservation land, there were stringent requirements about what could be built on the parcel.

“We love to entertain, especially outdoors,” says Cecile. “So it was important that we have excessive decking outside. I wanted us to be able to live outside as much as possible, and that meant having less interior space and we are fine with that.”

The home, however, has plenty of interior space. The layout follows an upside-down plan, with the open kitchen, living and dining areas and master suite on the top level of the home, where the views are best; downstairs are three additional bedrooms and a family room.

Stretching nearly six feet high, the sink area windows are a focal point with an amazing view. A cabinet panel conceals the dishwasher, while the Wolf stove and Subzero refrigerator are exposed. “Those appliances have an industrial appeal,” says Cecile Curtin. “Together they make a big impact.”

Throughout, there is an airy, clean vibe. Walls are painted white and shades of gray. “I wanted the house to feel timeless and neutral,” says Cecile. “I didn’t want anything inside to compete with the view.” From the front door one sees straight through to the back of the house at the water, and abundant windows ensure that every room has a view (or two) of the sea.

Thomas A. Moore was the architect on the project, but the Curtins eschewed an interior designer. Instead, they personally invested themselves in every design decision, carefully honing in on elements that were important to them, like the staircase at the center of the house. “Since it’s one of the first things you see, I really wanted it to pop,” says Cecile of the staircase, which has a black handrail and dark-toned treads accented by white painted risers.

Contrasting with the neutral tones throughout the interior are punches of black and pops of green. “The green livens things up once in a while,” says Curtin, who took her cue for green from a large-scale painting of green apples by a family friend.

She veered far away from incorporating overly seaside motifs, like mermaids and starfish. Though a distinct coastal feel was achieved partly by v-groove paneled ceilings and wire-brushed wide plank floors.

The Curtins’ two adult daughters often bring guests with them when they visit. “It’s a very comfortable home. We love it,” says Curtin. “And we love sharing it with others.”

Surrounding a dining table from Restoration Hardware, six chairs sport three different types of upholstery. The chandelier’s drum shade is galvanized metal.

In the master bedroom, high board-and-batten wainscoting is painted white while the rest of the room is painted Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray.

  A large sectional from Boston Interiors provides ample area to sit. Rugs throughout the home add textural dimension, including this cowhide one; others are made of jute and other natural fibers.

A large-scale painting by a family friend hangs over a built-in bench in the entryway. In the home’s second living space a striking steel and wood trimmed chest from Restoration Hardware appealed to Cecile Curtin for its resemblance to an old steamer trunk.

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