This Cape Cod Home Embraces Traditional Style & Whimsy
May 12, 2023
A Cape Cod vacation home goes from chalet to seashore thanks to an all-star team’s deft design.
Text by Fred Albert Photography by Joseph Keller Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent
As any Hollywood observer will tell you, the secret to a good face-lift is to improve what’s there without betraying what came before. By this measure, the surgery that Polhemus Savery DaSilva performed on a Cape Cod home was very good, indeed.
Nestled on nearly an acre and a half of shoreline, the house was blessed with the kind of panoramic vistas most mortals merely dream about. But its rugged fir beams, dark cabinets, and massive stone fireplace felt more appropriate for a day on the slopes than an afternoon at the shore. At the behest of the home’s new owners, PSD’s team of architects and builders preserved the wings at either end of the 6,000-square-foot house but rebuilt the center, replacing Aspen bravado with an airy, sun-drenched effervescence.
“It was a very complex problem, to adapt that footprint to something that feels more in character with Cape Cod,” says design principal John DaSilva. The architect incorporated elements of Federal, Dutch Colonial, and cape-style architecture on the exterior to make the house look like it had evolved over time, then united it all under a continuous shingled skin.
Leavening this historicism with a healthy dose of whimsy, DaSilva fashioned an exuberant front entry that skewers convention with cheeky abandon. Inside the foyer, a grand staircase culminates in a dizzying vortex of
balusters, while a cavalcade of cutout columns flanks the family room, recalling architect Michael Graves at his postmodernist zenith. (Not surprisingly, DaSilva was a student of Graves at Princeton University.)
Radial arches were woven throughout, looping across ceilings, transoms, and archways, and culminating in a
hallucinogenic veil of circles shrouding the built-in bench and storage niches in the mudroom. “Obviously, this is a client who was open to having fun,” says DaSilva.
The homeowners took a more traditional approach with the decor, which was designed by Susanne Lichten Csongor of SLC Interiors. “They wanted something that felt comfortable and kind of refined, but without feeling too stuffy,” notes SLC’s Joseph Chartier-Petrelis. Working within the owners’ preferred palette of blue and white, Csongor anchored one side of the family room with an eleven-foot sofa, which she paired with plump easy chairs and ottomans covered in indoor-outdoor fabrics so they stand up to anything.
Conversation nooks and window seats abound, offering an intimate respite from the home’s grander spaces, where friends and family (the owners have two grown daughters) can curl up with a book or just contemplate the passing boats.
The gleaming white kitchen, devised in tandem with Boston’s Christopher Peacock showroom, features pristine quartz-topped cabinets punctuated with quartersawn oak accents. While the adjacent dining area commands a lot of attention (thanks to its prime placement and ten-foot-long table), meals are often savored outside, where a full kitchen awaits on the bluestone terrace alongside an infinity pool and gas firepit.
Although the Boston-based owners have summered on the Cape for much of their lives, the husband admits he’s tempted to pinch himself every time he turns in the driveway. “It’s just a wonderful place,” he says, “and we feel extremely fortunate to have it.”