A Compact Cottage on Cape Cod

May 30, 2023

Thoughtful details allow this Cape home to make maximum use of minimal space.

Text by Bob Curley    Photography by Read McKendree

There’s a temptation when building a house with a million-dollar view to install floor-to-ceiling windows, but this vacation home in a small Cape Cod town demonstrates that what you don’t see can be just as important as what you do—and that how you’re seen by others matters, too.

Working within the confines of a narrow lot across a road from the water, architect Chris Brown of b Architecture Studio chose to pepper the front of the compact vacation home with eight picture and double-hung windows, the latter beginning around chair-rail height. Combined with raising the elevation of the home three feet, the setup effectively edits out the view of the road while permitting sweeping views of the harbor.

Moreover, the use of more traditional windows combined with clapboard shingles and a restrained design aesthetic allows the house—which is quite contemporary on the inside—to blend seamlessly with its neighbors. “There’s this timelessness of a cottage on the Cape that fits completely, but the house still has some great modern features in it,” Brown says.

Inside, the window design serves a different function, allowing for the installation of built-in storage along exterior walls and under custom sofas in the living and dining areas. The extra storage maximizes efficiency in a home that barely tops 800 square feet.

It’s not apparent from the street, but the house is T-shaped with a pair of bedrooms placed in the wings. The layout accommodates twelve-foot ceilings in the main living areas while permitting the bedrooms to have their own tall ceilings despite a loft that perches between the two rooms.

That loft space, accessed via a ladder, lends a tiny-house vibe to the interior, but there’s a remarkable amount of living space packed into (and outside of) the home, aided by an interior design that unites the sparseness of Scandinavian elements with a warm color palette. Eleven Interiors principal Michael Ferzoco’s decision to dangle a dozen glass oyster shell-esque lights above the kitchen island is an obvious nod to the nautical setting, but the rest of the home, with its blues, corals, and sandy browns, merely hints at its surroundings.

To preserve a sense of space, the house is virtually devoid of freestanding furniture, and the few pieces chosen feature narrow, open legs. The net effect, says Ferzoco, is a seaside home that could be on any shore, even somewhere in Europe in the middle of the last century, not just Cape Cod in the 2020s.

Project Team
Architecture: b Architecture Studio
Interior design: Eleven Interiors
Builder: Cape Associates
Landscape design: Gregory Lombardi Design


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