By Jennifer Sperry
Photography by Brian Vanden Brink
A refreshed Chatham home that’s all about family—inside and out.
Summer on Cape Cod is defined by precious long days that go by way too quickly. Dewy hydrangeas, zigzagging bumblebees, flip-flops, crab hunts, barbecues, dripping ice cream, sand everywhere—summer is all about enjoying the little things and embracing a carefree mindset.
Summer is also, and maybe more importantly, about family time. It’s when everyone finally takes a vacation and gets to just hang out. Creating beautiful spaces that foster togetherness is a specialty of Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders (PSD). For the past 25 years, PSD has helped shape the fabric of Cape Cod’s architecture, preserving historic gems, remodeling the lackluster and contributing to the peninsula’s coastal canon with new, custom designs.
When a client—a couple with three daughters—decided to create the beach home of their dreams in Chatham, they turned to PSD for its reputation and local expertise. “We worked closely with the clients, from the property acquisition stage through design, permitting and construction,” says PSD owner and CEO Aaron Polhemus. “Combining these services under one roof results in a very seamless, effective process,” he adds. “The clients really appreciated our turn-key approach.”
With PSD onboard, the clients eyed a large property on a quiet cove leading out to Pleasant Bay. It boasted two bonus structures: a boathouse that jibed with their love of water sports and a guest house that promised plenty of room for guests. “It’s a very special property,” notes Polhemus of the multifaceted site. “It was the perfect choice for their generational retreat.”
For the main home, the owners envisioned a traditional exterior contrasted by a more contemporary interior. In response, PSD designed a gracious shingle-style house that nods to the past and fits naturally into the coastal environment. Prefaced by a long gravel drive, the structure greets with an orderly, dormered façade, evocative of a storybook cottage. Rows of double-hung windows line its water side.
Dosing the house with additional character, PSD graced the front entry with a covered porch and built-in benches. As a whimsical touch, they extended the exterior walls to frame the benches’ outer ends. “It gives you the sense that the wall was cut away to create an outdoor room,” explains PSD Senior Designer Sharon DaSilva of the design flourish.
“Our goal with the layout was to take advantage of the beautiful views,” continues DaSilva of the programming stage. “The idea was to have the common spaces stretch out across that view, so that every room overlooks the cove.” At the owners’ request, all bedrooms are on the second floor, preserving the first floor for gathering and entertaining.
At the heart of the home is a light-filled kitchen, thoughtfully designed by Hyannis-based Classic Kitchens & Interiors. Kitchen designer Barbara Darcy delivered a timeless design, complete with white custom cabinets in a softened Shaker profile. To break up all the white, Darcy mixed different materials and shapes, including an oversized stainless steel hood, curved mullions, and polished marble. Outside the work triangle, a separate wall of cabinets does triple duty as a breakfast hub, wine bar and hutch.
Contemporary Lucite chairs surround the generous island, topped by both marble and wood. “Visually, the two pair well together,” explains Darcy of the material selections. “The wood’s natural texture and matte sheen contrast the marble’s high polish and sweeping vein pattern. And while the marble ensures easy water cleanup, the wood feels warm to the touch for anyone lingering over conversation or an informal meal.”
To one side of the kitchen is a large family room, where squares of V-groove paneling in alternating orientations break up the long, flat ceiling. The fireplace surround is lined with V-groove as well, while the mantel’s support brackets echo the curvy cutouts on the front porch. “It really helps pull a house together when subtle details are repeated,” notes DaSilva. On the kitchen’s other end, a dining room leads to a screened porch.
“The spaces are actually staggered,” describes DaSilva of the floor plan. “The dining room is closest to the water, then the kitchen steps back, then the living room steps back again. The spaces are open to each other and share light but are definitely well defined,” adds the architect.
Upstairs, the girls’ camp-style bedroom tops the garage, which faces sideways within the home’s perpendicular gable. Although it’s the only bedroom without glimpses of the cove, its unique cathedral ceiling and skylight make it feel light and bright, while built-ins lend cottage charm. On the second floor’s opposite corner, past two additional guest bedrooms, is the master suite, where the owners enjoy views in two directions.
“Overall, the interior is relaxed and clean—nothing is overdone or overly detailed,” summarizes Polhemus.
Establishing a comfortable connection between indoors and out was another priority driving the design. As the project’s landscape designer, PSD created a variety of outdoor living features, including a screened porch, covered porch, stone patio, spa, and fire pit. All encourage maximum summertime appreciation.
But arguably the property’s coolest hangout spot of all is its cedar-lined boathouse along the coastal bank. “The original was in danger of being wiped out,” notes Polhemus. “We built a new one on a screw pier foundation to hold up long term. It’s a great hangout spot for the kids and a really unique entertaining destination.”
Throughout the multi-phase project, PSD delivered relaxed, modern living spaces while still honoring the region’s shingle-style roots. “It’s just a great family home where everyone has plenty of places to gather,” says Polhemus.
“It fits right into Chatham but with a fresh twist.”
SITE PLANNING, PERMITTING, ARCHITECTURE, LANDSCAPE DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION