Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Real Estate: A Colonial Surprise


Sometimes, you just get a feeling about how a house will look on the inside. This colonial style house (built in 1860) is located in the historic district in Sandwich, MA on Cape Cod. I've been by it a million times since my parents moved to town in the 1980's. It's on a fantastic lot, sitting on a hill overlooking the beautiful Shawme Pond. I've loved the simple detail and the neat little porch out front with the classic white rocking chairs. It seems so homey. But yet, I had the feeling that this simple exterior was hiding a secret.



For instance, there is an unusual "gazebo" structure out back - not a typical style for the area. But because of the way the property is set back and higher than the road, it's impossible to see what's going on back there.


Here's the view of the pond which is lovely at all times of the year.



So, I was excited when the "For Sale" sign went up a couple of weeks ago - knowing I'd finally get to see what's happening on the inside. Being of the colonial style, built in the mid-19th century, the house is clearly a center entrance, four over four "box". Staircase running from the front door on up. There's nothing remarkable about this front entrance hall - other than it's clean simplicity - all in white and gray. Most houses in this town, of this era, are pretty heavy and dark.


And... pow! The image below is taken from the rear of the first floor - dining room area - looking back to the front hall and door. They've removed the walls (leaving only those necessary to hold the second floor up) and made a modern, open floor plan within the colonial envelope. It's pretty fabulous. I particularly love the shiny painted floors. The house has approx. 3,400 sq. ft - though that includes an addition out back. The original house was likely about 2,000-2,500 I guess.


The red wall block conveniently helps us figure out the floorplan. The sitting room below with the white sofa is on the left side of the front door, as you're facing the house. The fireplace has what looks like an original gas insert - looks very common in late 19th century Victorian style houses. So, possibly there was originally a wood burning fireplace that was retrofitted with gas. I like the original touch - though a more modern gas firebox wouldn't have been out of place given the other changes made.
Love, love the statue. Clearly, the owners are huge art buffs - their collection is amazing. I'm guessing the furniture is a lot of Roche Bobois.  I love the big windows - which are a change to what was likely the original window sizes. Actually, I have to wonder how they got permission from the town to make some of these changes - this town can be strict! My dad wanted to paint his cute little back yard shed "barn red" and it was a fight - and they don't live in the historic district! And tv-man Tom Ellis famously tried to put double french doors on their antique house and they were rejected - even though that house can't be seen from the street. Perhaps this is why the house is so simple from the front...


Anyway, back to the rear of the house, we're now looking from left to right (as facing the house). We have the red wall, the opening to the above sitting room, the opening to the front hall, and then the opening to the other sitting room, on the right side of the front door (as facing the house)




Very much an art gallery feel. Again we have the Victorian looking gas insert. I definately think they should have retrofitted a more modern insert - but perhaps there was a reason it couldn't happen. It is hard to imagine what actually happens in this room. I might have have made it the dining room rather than a 2nd sitting room. Or possibly a music room - something more specific.


Anyhow, the dining area is situated in the back portion of the original structure, where the original kitchen probably stood. Loving the black wall and the art. The far wall shows a picture gallery  and old-timey writing desk, fronting what looks to be a lavatory. I'll admit I don't love the dining table and chairs at all - very hard and cold. I like the idea of the chandelier, but it's too high and just seems out of place.


And, we come to the new addition which houses the kitchen, designed by Alan Clarke (now retired) of Poggenpohl in Boston.



Again, kind of a "pow" moment in the home. The little table and chairs is a bright spot with a great view of the back yard and garden.


The tiny spiral staircase leads to a bedroom above, which overlooks the table and red chairs and has a view of the gardens.


And up the spiral staircase we have this very zen space. I think it must be the master - but then it's awfully exposed to the downstairs, so I'm not sure. The bed looks to be floating in the middle of the floor, with the wall of cabinets behind that acts as a visual backdrop. Certainly stunning.


This is the upstairs center hall, where they've added an unusual spiral staircase to the attic - I guess.


This is a home office, I'm guessing the wall with the single window is overlooking the driveway on the right side of the house and the window is on the front of the house. The shingle house outside the window looks like the house next door. The door to this room would be by that odd spiral staircase shown above.


This bedroom is on the left hand side of the house (as you're facing the house). Love the color - so pretty. Very much "in the trees" feeling.


This looks to be a daughter's bedroom in the rear of the house, behind the home office, overlooking the driveway.


The white vanity is sort of an old-fashioned moment in the otherwise very pristine space.

And now we get to some real changes - the rear of the house. I'm not sure when the different additions were put on - though I have to say that I'm personally too traditional to love how they handled this addition - it seems out of place.  But it's the back and the landscaping is gorgeous.



And we have the gazebo-type structure that envelopes and outside patio/dining area. It's quite lovely.


The house at 15 Water Street in Sandwich, is listed at $990,000 via Sotheby's Cape Cod. I think it's a gorgeous property. I love that while they made the interiors super modern, it would be easy to walk that back a bit for those whose tastes are more traditional. The basic structure is untouched and while there are fewer walls the fact is that open floor plans are very popular today. The kitchen will likely be the biggest obstacle for many. On the one hand - it's a first rate, luxury kitchen with all the amenities. But its modern aesthetic will be a stumbling block for some. The exposed master bedroom (as I said, I'm assuming it's the master) is also problematic.

If I were hired to decorate this house for the next homeowners (hint, hint) I would probably put on a full glass wall in the master, instead of just the glass balcony, or possibly some kind of retractable wall. I'm not sure if the spiral stair case is the only way to get to that bedroom (lord, I hope not!) and assuming it's not, I'd eighty-six the spiral to gain more light and space.

What to do with the kitchen would be the tricky part... Well, all it takes is money. I'd want to soften the palette and add it some more natural materials. Possibly:



Or just rip it out and start over:



My take? If I could, I'd buy it in a heart beat. What do you think?

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