Meaningful and Moving on Neel Rd, Harwich, MA

This is what we really love… A small, little, intimate home that has a story that could already be told, and now we’ve given it a second life for more stories to be made. Sue has owned this home for more than thirty years, raised a family here, and now retired here for the next phase of their lives.

I’m so happy that this wasn’t a tear-down of a beautiful little cottage resulting in us being asked to build something much larger. It’s perfect the way it is. A3 Architects came up with the scheme and the plan, and they managed to fit everything Sue asked for into a tiny space. It’s not easy to fit what goes into a larger-sized home into a space this small - the addition is only a 600SF footprint here. But with careful planning, a renovation of the existing kitchen/bathroom/mechanical-room inside the existing space, and fitting two new bathrooms, a bedroom, an entryway, three new closets for storage space, and an art studio into the new footprint this home is ready for Sue and her family for a long time to come.

All wrapped up...

We’ve been all wrapped up at Sue’s house for a while now, but it’s fun to look back at the pictures and see how far it’s come.

Sue gets her own bathroom!

She’d get a kick out of that title….but it’s true! Sue and Emily and all the many guests at the home always shared one bathroom. And it worked, just fine, like any home with revolving guests who are sprinting down to the best-kept-secret beach on the Cape all day and all night. But now….now Sue has her very own bathroom. Attached to her bedroom, it’s a little gem of the house.

Emily's Room

Emily is Sue’s daughter. Loves: taking pictures, the colors blue and green, and collecting snow globes. She used to have a smaller bedroom in the old section of the home. This is her new space. And it’s awesome. The only requirements she had specifically for us during the build were a built-in window seat for reading books and shelving to hold her snow globes. Done and done. What a great room…

In order for a kitchen to be a place to gather, it has to be able to fit....people.

Sue’s old kitchen - while it did the job for many years passing as a summer kitchen - was just way too tiny for someone living there full time, with a daughter, and with a ton of friends consistently visiting from afar and needing to catch up, have a drink, and cook good food all together. A3 Architects devised a plan that included raising the ceiling in her living space, removing a sunken mechanical room that was nearly smack-dab in the middle of the house, and removing the only full bathroom that was in the original home. This all made way for Sue’s new kitchen. Cherry cabinets, a cottage-style sink, Ikea faucets (say what you want…I actually love Ikea fixtures. They’re not the greatest, but they are very good. Plumbers hate installing them, but plumbers hate doing anything new and fun…right??), powder-coated cabinet knobs that we saved from the old kitchen and coated cobalt-blue to match Sue’s cookware, Eastern White Pine flooring that we installed with true wrought-iron hand nails… The smile on Sue’s face when she walks through this space now makes every single day of work worth it, honestly.

The little second-floor storage space that something AWESOME

Sue is a play director. She writes plays, directs plays, starts theater programs, starts actual theaters....she’s just awesome. She’s very, very creative. And a very, very creative person needs a very cool space where they can be very, very creative. This is hers. Sue’s Studio. I love it. She loves it. We used the Port Orford White Cedar that we often use outside to carry that natural-ness theme inside and we used cable-railing to keep it very light up in this space. The skylights were a later-in-the-planning addition, and the idea to leave one collar-tie exposed and natural was Sues. This is a very, very cool space… While all the guests that Sue accommodates may love her new outdoor shower, this is her favorite.

Straight and narrow is....soooo boring

We like to mix things up…do a little of this, a little of that….think outside the box a bit when we have the chance. This isn’t anything spectacular, but it’s still pretty cool. Sue wanted to replace the old stone patio that had been installed a decade or two ago with a new wood deck. It had to be natural - not plastic!! - and it had to be a beautiful wood, and it had to be cool to look at too when it’s all said and done. The curve idea came from two schools: the first being that Sue and I both thought it would be cool to do, and the second being that the zoning board in Harwich only permitted us to stay within 15’ of the street line - which unbeknownst to almost everyone - myself, Sue, and the actual zoning board themselves - the driveway to the side of her home had actually been designated a street about a year back or so. But we rolled with the punches. Sometimes being given the parameters of something and needing to be as creative as you can within those given parameters leads to the best results. (Also something I love most about the whole remodeling aspect of building…it’s harder to be creative and build something when given a space that you did not originally design - it’s not starting from a blank slate, per say.) This deck is built out of Port Orford White Cedar, a wood we love to work with. It will last as long as the home will with very little maintenance - just a brushing of a water-based UV protectant every year or so which takes about ten minutes to apply. It’s not like using Cambria where you have to use an oil-based protectant that stinks and is super toxic. The Port Orford White Cedar decking will age and turn silver just like the shingles on the home will, and over time this whole entire living area will look like it grew right out of the same ground that the cedar trees in her front yard have. (We also threw in a curved outdoor shower with no door and super privacy still too just for good measure - kind of the unsung hero of the whole project as it’s turned out to be everyone’s favorite space in a place full of favorite spaces.)

Muir Woods...White Cedar Swamps....84 Neel Rd in Harwichport....what do they all have in common??

The idea for this walkway came from a walk through Muir Woods while on a quick trip out to Cali last year. Sue originally had a walkway leading from the driveway to the old front door area, and in the early stages of planning there was an idea for keeping the original door, adding the second one, and creating a sort of path between the two. But who needs two doors ten-feet apart?? And why not use that interior space for more cabinets and countertop area?? So that’s what we did. If you’ve ever been to Muir Woods, you know the wood walkway that leads through everything, and you know it meanders through the space and diverts from area to area. I love it. Turns out Sue loves it too and knows it well, so when we began talking about a path again that is where we ended up. It was only after it was completed that someone took one look at it and said “Huh….looks just like the White Cedar Swamps up in Wellfleet….”. Oh well, local always rules!

Keeping it real (small...)

A tiny square footage and a monster improvement. Smart use of space, creative and sharp details, planning a space for how it’s going to be used and not using a space based on how it was built.

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