Truro House

Cottage, c. 1860
Studio, c. 1981
Interior architecture and decoration, 2016
Landscape design, ongoing

Truro, Massachusetts is the next to the last town at the outer tip of Cape Cod. Our family has stayed there every August for 30 years. During that time we rented a number of different houses but one stood out. In the middle of Truro, close to the Pamet River, the house we stayed in was a typical three-quarters Cape cottage built about 1860. Next to it was a post and beam art studio built in 1981 and expanded to include living quarters in 1986. For ten years we stayed in the cottage and our landlady lived in the studio. The last time we rented it was in 2005.

Early in 2016 the property came on the market and we bought it. We did some basic repairs to the exterior of the building, but we really concentrated on the interior. For urban dwellers who have never had so much as a blade of grass, the exterior work is daunting. Other than taking down some precarious trees, we agreed to live through a year of seasons before making any decisions about what to do with overgrown gardens, unsightly ramps, and awkward brick pathways.

Both buildings have good bones so with a limited budget we embarked on what Sue Larkin, our contractor, called “rip and replace”. We didn’t make any major structural changes to the buildings or move much plumbing, we simply replaced old fixtures with new ones. To contrast the exposed wood beams and floors that are in both buildings, we painted every space white.

We did make two minor architectural changes to the cottage that made a big difference. In the kitchen, we removed a rabbit warren of old pantries and a sort of half loft. This left the kitchen as one big open space. In an upstairs bedroom that sits under the pitch of the roof, we removed a ceiling to expose the rafters and the significant height above them.

Since we were our own clients we embarked on a purchasing process that would be impossible with most of our projects. We learned that Home Depot has more merchandise online than they do in stores, so we spent many hours perusing the site finding unique fixtures, fittings, and materials. We made a number of trips to IKEA and discovered great finds. In lieu of building closets, we scoured catalogs for factory storage cabinets. In the early summer we made a haul at the Brimfield Antiques Flea market buying armoires, wire shelving, and occasional tables—all great bargains. For upholstered sofas and chairs we relied on our dear friends at Lekker, and for carpets, our friends at Stephen King.

Some day we’ll get to the window treatments but for now, the uncovered windows allows us to look out at our many blades of grass and wonder what to do next.