Monday, February 27, 2017

Cape Cod - Old Versus New

On our wish list for a beach house, I stated that we wanted a property that hadn't been recently updated.  There were a few reasons for that.  I feel like there are still a fair amount of house flippers around and I didn't want a flipped property.  Those houses tend to be more expensive as you are paying for the convenience of not having to manage the renovations yourself.  In addition, I have family who bought a flipped house, had it inspected, the whole deal, and it's been one disaster after another.  The guy basically took short cuts that were good enough to get past the town's building inspector and a private home inspection but caused issues a few years later.

I also really wanted some of that quintessential Cape Cod and to make decisions on what to keep versus what to update on my own.  I've seen houses with nice, stone countertops but the original cabinets and tile floor from the 1980s.  None of it goes with the other and yet it's listed as "updated kitchen" because of the countertops.  With a premium on the list price.  I'm fairly opinionated when it comes to this topic.        

While there are antique homes and cottages on Cape Cod, a good majority were built in the 1950s to present day.  Route 6, the main "highway" through the Cape was built in the 1950s, so naturally it makes sense that more people began to use Cape Cod as a summer retreat at that time.  (Midway through the Cape, that highway is reduced to one lane each way.)  Go back in time - you bought a place on the Cape.  It either came furnished or you filled it with second hand furniture.  Now, there's a lot of teardown, gutting and renovation going on.  This isn't necessarily negative but there are still a lot of old school Cape Codders who like the simplicity of how life (and cottages) used to be.   Unassuming, if you will.  That being said, a friend of mine rents a gorgeous house in Chatham for a week every summer.  The family who owns it has left a scrapbook of photos in the house so you can see the transformation from 1950s beach cottage to updated beach house.

Our cottage is single story, under 1,000 square feet with three bedrooms.  The kitchen and living space are at one end of the house and the bedrooms are located on the other end.  I prefer this type of setup, especially with kids.  Before we bought this place, I had found some renovations of similar cottages online.  Basically, the attic space is unused so the ceilings were removed and the walls extended up to create airy rooms with very high ceilings.  Our cottage now has very low ceilings and at first, I mentioned doing this but Rich balked.  And now I agree.  We aren't Young House Love here and would like to keep the teardown to a minimum.  The inside of our cottage seems dark but I have to remember that cottages were built this way for a reason - to keep it cool inside.  People weren't running air conditioning units at the beach in 1960.

It appears that the bathroom was updated in the 1980s.


The tile is cracked around the almond colored toilet.  I thought maybe we could possibly salvage the base of the vanity but the sides aren't real wood.

It also looks like at that time, a sunroom was added onto the kitchen or a porch was converted into a sunroom off of the kitchen.  These walls (and those in the bathroom) are the only ones covered in sheetrock.  The remaining walls are different types of wood paneling.


That is one of the bedrooms.  I'm going back and forth on whether or not to paint the wood walls.  Yes, it's outdated but I'm not necessarily looking to bring this cottage to 2017 - know what I mean?  I may need to live with it for a season and see how I feel afterwards.  And see that bureau and chair?  They left that along with other furniture, including antique beds.  I'm a huge fan of antique furniture and some of this stuff looks like it was placed here 60 years ago.  Excuse the semi blown-out photo below but that's the only way to show you the detail on this footboard.  When I originally saw these dark wood twin beds, I considered painting them white to offset the wood paneling.  But upon closer inspection, there's some detail work and now I really need to think about whether or not I want to paint over that.  I'm leaning towards no.  I keep envisioning an Antiques Roadshow type of scenario where I'm told that I've ruined the furniture by painting it.


Aside from the bathroom and kitchen/sunroom, the cottage has it's original wood floors.  Thank goodness because the last thing I wanted to deal with is carpet.  Especially in a beach house.


I took a whole set of photos on the day the house was inspected but I don't feel right sharing those because they show the owner's personal items.  I have a soft spot for the elderly (ask Rich, I make friends all the time) and it was a bit sad being there with all of their stuff knowing that it had not yet been cleaned out by family.  It was definitely brighter in there back in the fall so we'll have to see how the lighting changes with arrival of spring.    


Christi said...

I love that you wanted an "unflipped" house. The old Cape charm is so lovely. Cape cottages should be dark-ish and cozy and rustic. And have an outdoor shower!

Do you think you'll move down to the Cape for the summer?

Schaefer Clan said...

Oh, I grew up in Framingham and have fond memories of going to the cape each summer! The cottages we rented were just like this! Enjoy!

Sarah said...

Christi - For this summer, we plan to go back and forth. Next year, we may rent to friends and family for part of the summer.

Thank you! (Schaefer Clan)

Meg said...

Oh my goodness your cape house reminds me so much of my Nana's cottage (in marshfield, so not quite down the cape) with all the old and antique touches. It may be falling apart but it's cute! Definitely hasn't been updated since probably 1969 or so!

Lisa said...

Oh, those beds are lovely! I'm no expert, but I'd say don't paint. :)

The main reason I'm commenting is that I've always had a soft spot for the elderly as well, and my heart was warmed by your comment about not sharing the other photos you have. The curious side of me would love to see, but I feel there's a kind of sacredness in that sort of scene. I'm happy for the previous owners that this cottage has passed into the in the hands of thoughtful, considerate people. Enjoy, you guys deserve it.