The cottage perched atop a bluff had seen more than 100 years of families roughing it every summer in the seaside "campgrounds" neighborhood of Harwich Port on Cape Cod.
Indeed, these hastily constructed summer camps built at the turn of the last century defied the rules of engineering and common sense. How could they still be standing after more than a century of weather?
Last year the owners of an Atlantic Street property chose to tear the house down and start over, and the result is a refreshing change from the over-sized, out of proportion reconstruction taking place all over Cape Cod.
Note the walls--solid wood with no insulation. Homes in the "campgrounds" were only used in July and August. I hope they saved that amazing enameled sink for ebay.
There's the ocean beyond, but you have to get past the funky wood valances and indoor-outdoor carpet to think of enjoying the view. Plus, on a perfectly sunny day, it's oddly dark in here.
A tiny electric space heater against at the floor removes the chill in the air, but can't be very safe. Cabinetry seems an afterthought and is constructed in bead board when bead board was for budget shoppers. Stainless edging on the formica countertop and linoleum tiles evoke a depression-era aesthetic.
Is that the route to the linen closet? Alas, there's only so much white paint can do for a place like this.
Time for a redo, but with a lot of less than 3,500 square feet and a town height limitation of 28 feet, what could be done? Plenty. Take a look.
Note above that the owners sacrificed the old one-car garage for more living space.
I love the paneled wooden walls. They provide a thread of continuum from the old version to the new and they maintain the rustic campgrounds nature of the neighborhood. Remember, most of the surrounding homes are still original.
It's interesting that this compact home devotes so much space to the kitchen. It demonstrates the evolution of the way we live today.
The architect said he kept ship design in mind, with clever storage solutions a major goal. Note the drawers beneath the mattress and built-ins beneath the window. Nothing interferes with that view.
That ladder goes to a small roof-top deck. Honestly, how does anyone ever leave this place?
The private beach is a few steps away.
Thanks to Houzz.com for providing the photographs and information about this project.
Homes in the Campgrounds are old, uninsulated and unheated, built very close together and not for everyone. They sell for between $350,000 to $450,000--among the least expensive properties in the desirable 02646 zip code. Direct ocean-front properties in the Campgrounds cost more than $1 million before improvements.
Let me know if you'd like to see the current inventory in the Campgrounds. The next tear-down could be yours.
Or you can just keep applying coats of paint for another 100 years.
The National Association of Realtors reveals it's annual profile of home buyers and sellers.
Here are the highlights:
- 39% of sellers who used a real estate agent found their agent through a referral. 25% used the agent they worked with before.
- Recent sellers typically sold their homes for 97% of the listing price, an increase of 2% over last year.
- 88% of sellers used the help of a real estate agent when selling their home.
- 45% of buyers used a mobile device during their home search and 22% of them found the home they ultimately bought via mobile device.
- The use of the internet in the home search rose slightly to 92%.
- The typical For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) sold for $184,000 compared to the real estate agent assisted sale of $230,000.
- The percentage of home sellers who sold their home on their own was 9%, down from 19% in 1991.
- 38% of recent home buyers were first-time buyers, not yet back to the historical norm of 40%.
Extra-long journey to the Cape
If Cape Cod Tourism officials have their way, Cape Codders will soon welcome visitors from China, Brazil and India.
That's the Cape Cod headline from this year's Massachusetts Tourism Summit at the Statehouse in Boston.
When the locals complain about traffic, long lines and crowded beaches, they would best remember that tourism is what feeds them. Visitors spent $902 million here in 2012 which resulted in 8,600 jobs on Barnstable County and an annual payroll of $225 million.
Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross says funding for marketing the Cape as a vacation destination fell from a high of $600,000 before the recession, to a low of $180,000 three years ago.
With an increasing number of food festivals like the Bourne Scallop Festival, and the Wellfleet Oyster Festival luring larger crowds each year, the number of visitors overall should increase as well in the future, Northcross said.
Among the tourism highlights for 2014--The Cape Cod Canal Centennial, The 375th anniversary of the founding of Sandwich and the 400th anniversary of the founding of Plymouth.
In a sea of red and green holiday decorations, on Cape Cod you see a lot of silver and blue as well. It's no surprise.
It's natural to bring the colors we observe out the window into our homes. Even at Christmas. With the sea and sky holding the Cape in a blue embrace, garden centers and home decor shops offer abundant blue holiday decorations.
Enjoy these items from Hart Farm Nursery on Upper County Road in Dennisport, and from Marshall's at Patriot Square, Dennis.
At Christmastime and all times, on Cape Cod the ocean is always just a mile or two away.
Ribbons at the ready for holiday craft projects. Hart Farm Nursery.
Say it aloud, and fast. From Marshall's, Dennis
Decorate your wreath with blue for a change. Hart Farm Nursery.
Cool, blue centerpiece is a standout with Cape Cod dining decor. Hart Farm Nursery.
Christopher Radko's "Shiny Brite" vintage-inspired tree ornaments in rare blue, silver and gold. Marshall's, Dennis.
Blue hydrangeas are such a hit on the Cape that sometimes silk is called for to get us through till summer. Hart Farm Nursery.
Tabletop trees sparkle in blue and silver. Marshall's, Dennis.
I wonder what the Germans would think of a blue Father Christmas. Marshall's, Dennis.
Let's wrap up this article and put a bow on it. Hart Farm Nursery.
Great white shark Mary Lee, named for the mother of researcher Chris Fischer who tagged the shark off Cape Cod 15 months ago, is fast becoming the most famous great white in the U.S.
Mary Lee is weighed, measured and outfitted with GPS tracking September 17, 2012
Last weekend Mary Lee was the prize-winning float at the annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla off Wrightsville Beach. The decorated boat with mechanized toothy smile beat out 27 other entries to capture first prize.
The crew of the Mary Lee held signs stating "SOS. Save our Sharks".
It's a fun float with a serious purpose. Funds are needed to keep the research on great whites going.
Thanks to the Ocearch website
, anyone can track Mary Lee's offshore travels from the Cape to Florida and back again, in real time on their home computer.
In fact, scientists monitoring Mary Lee online warned the Coast Guard near Jacksonville last winter that Mary Lee took a sudden turn toward shore one day, and authorities closed the beaches.
In this photo, it looks like she practically walked onshore to get to the ice cream truck.
Expect to hear more about Cape Cod's celebrity shark, before the GPS batteries run out of juice within a couple of years.
Happy Thanksgiving and yes, this is actually a bird-- a cousin of the Wild Turkey. But while wild turkeys now roam with abandon all over Cape Cod thanks to conservation efforts begun decades ago, this fellow with the yellow bikini top is in scarce supply.
The Greater Sage-Grouse
is featured on an e-card from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They write the bird "is one of more than 90 bird species that live in the sagebrush steppe, an ecosystem at risk."
This fall, Cornell Lab supporters voted the Greater Sage-Grouse as their favorite sagebrush bird, in a poll they conducted to help bring attention to the region's conservation issues.
Unfortunately only people in the northwestern U.S. have a chance at spotting one of these magnificent creatures. And thanks to the Cornell Lab, there is hope now that continuing conversation methods will help the birds stick around for generations to come.
On Cape Cod, we can thank 18 birds reintroduced to the area at the Massachusetts Military Reservation in 1989. Since then the population blossomed to 1,000 all over the Cape.
I wish you a happy and bountiful day filled with your favorite people today.
This is the time of year when we gather near the hearth of a fireplace glowing with radiant warmth. To make sure your evening of conviviality doesn't turn into a room full of smoke or even worse, follow these safety tips from State Farm Insurance.
First of all, it's best to leave a thorough inspection of the chimney from the vantage point of the roof to the pros, no matter how proficient you are on a ladder. Frost or accumulated moss on the roof can make the surface more slippery than it appears. You can however, take a pair of binoculars and look for cracks in the masonry of the chimney, cracked bricks or a chimney cap that has dislodged.
With your feet planted on solid ground indoors you can tell a lot about the safety of your fireplace with the aid of a flashlight and a flexible set of back muscles.
Begin with the flue damper. Most often, it is opened and closed with the handle located on the face or side of the fireplace surround. With the damper open, check for excessive cobwebs or animal nests.
Check the firebox-- the opening to the fireplace lined with fire brick. Be sure there are no cracks in the brick or masonry which "glues" the brick together.
If you see signs of moisture in the fireplace it could mean your chimney cap needs replacement.
Natural gas burning fireplaces are increasingly popular on Cape Cod because they’re low-maintenance . But "low" doesn't mean "no"-maintenance. Be sure to:
- Inspect glass doors for cracks or loose latches.
- Turn gas off at the source and test the igniter.
- Ignite the fire and look for clogged burner holes. Like a gas cooktop, if holes are blocked, turn off the gas and unclog the holes with a stiff brush or pin.
As the Thanksgiving Nor'easter of '13 bears down on one-third of the U.S. population this week, the reward of safely enjoying each other's company by a crackling fire will be extra special this year.
The couple-- a young lawyer, his teacher wife and their two little children from the Boston area approached me last summer to help them find a second home on Cape Cod.
The supply was decent but not abundant, and we were optimistic we could find something. They wanted three bedrooms, two bathrooms and did not wish to spend more than $350,000. Easy, right?
One by one, properties that had potential sold quickly to someone else and as the end of summer neared, the supply dwindled. The couple hoped more listings would hit the market once home sellers enjoyed their last vacation season on the Cape. But that off-season surge of properties did not appear. And now, going into the holidays, the couple says they are hoping for a "better 2014".
Thus is the story of home buying this year. With buyers on the sidelines with pent-up demand after the Great Recession, all that stands in the way of a robust housing recovery is the supply of homes for sale. There simply are not enough of them.
Those homes that do go on the market are often gobbled up with buyers paying cash -- as many as one in five nationwide and one in three on Cape Cod. And the number of buyers purchasing a home smaller than they own now-- exactly the size of young families moving up, is greater than the number of upsizers -- 19 percent to 15 percent, according to a new report by the National Association of Realtors. In other words, that small to medium-sized home of 1,200 to 2,700 square feet is sought by nearly half of all buyers.
The survey reveals a predicted rough home buying winter season ahead, with a full 45 percent stating they believe the supply of homes for sale in their price range is inadequate.
Here are some other findings of the NAR report:
Biggest challenges when searching for a home during winter:
- 45 percent of respondents indicated that there is not enough inventory within price range;
- 34 percent shared that there is not enough inventory on the market;
- 29 percent believe that winter weather makes house hunting unpleasant;
- 7 percent indicated that there are too many buyers in the market.
Top reasons consumers are looking to buy a home in winter:
- 26 percent of respondents believe that sellers are more motivated to sell and willing to negotiate;
- 24 percent indicated that they think home prices will be better;
- 24 percent revealed that they were unable to buy a house during spring or summer;
- 20 percent shared that they think there will be less competition between buyers.
The current purchase status of those surveyed includes the following:
- 28 percent of respondents reported that they are relocation buyers;
- 19 percent shared that they are existing homeowners downsizing to a smaller or less expensive home;
- 19 percent indicated that they are first-time home buyers;
- 15 percent revealed that they are current homeowners moving up to a bigger or more expensive home.
Amount of cash winter home buyers are planning to use for their down payment:
- 13 percent of buyers are planning to put down 3.5 percent cash (United States Federal Housing Administration loan);
- 23 percent are planning to put down 10 to 20 percent cash;
- 22 percent are planning to put down 21 to 99 percent cash;
- 19 percent are planning to put down 100 percent cash.
Of those planning to use all cash, the respondents fall into the following categories:
- 29 percent of respondents are downsizing to a smaller or less expensive home;
- 26 percent are relocation buyers;
- 11 percent are moving up to a bigger or more expensive home;
- 11 percent are buying a vacation home.
So, after reading these statistics, if you're thinking about selling your home, please do it now. Thank you. :)
It's an unwritten rule of home design. Once you improve one element in a room, the remaining elements call for improvement too. Have you ever replaced the countertops in your kitchen? Suddenly the cabinetry and floors look dated and horrible.
Dated and grimy light switches detract from the overall appearance of a home.
While shiny new kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, there are other details in a home that hint at its relative care and modernization--light switches. Yes, those ubiquitous devices on the wall you only think about when turning on a light or plugging something in. Every home has dozens of them, yet when did you last have a conversation over cocktails about the type of outlets and switches you chose for your home?
If you're doing a minor remodel, why not take some time and relatively little expense to bring those switches into the 21st century?
A near-invisible flush mounted outlet from Trufig of California. The product line received "Most Innovative Product’ by the American Society of Interior Designers in 2011 as well as several other awards for design and innovation.
A simple but modern push-button switch by Trufig.
Kitchens are loaded with outlets. This near-invisible wall outlet by Trufig reduces visual clutter.
With all the wood paneling found in homes on Cape Cod, an outlet like this would be a stunner.
Yet another option appears so old-fashioned, it looks totally new. It is the line of switches and outlets by Forbes and Lomax of London, UK. They look as much at home at 1920's-era Downton Abbey as a new Polhemus, Savery and DaSilva masterpiece on Cape Cod. Rather than disappear, Forbes and Lomax elevates switches to jewelry for walls. Finishes include unlaquered brass, stainless steel and nickel.
Old-school toggle switches shine in stainless steel.
Bank of light switches in unlaquered brass will mellow to a darker patina unless periodically polished.
European electrical standards allow for more unique designs.
The most important consideration in replacing electrical switches in the home is that they have GFI, or ground-fault circuit interrupters in all water areas to prevent against electrical shock.
Homes with young children may wish to install tamper-resistant outlets.
Lastly, the more high-end you go, the more you'll want to keep the look consistent throughout the entire home. If you install a toggle switch in one room, the other rooms will appear forgotten with common, generic switches. And while the cost of a single switch can be between $100 and $200 uninstalled, the purchase of dozens of these high-end devices for an entire home adds up.
Reports of illness due to proximity to wind turbines in Falmouth brought a crew from ABC News to that upper Cape Cod town this week.
The report focused on claims by Falmouth resident Sue Hobart, 57, who says she abandoned her "dream home" on Blacksmith Shop Road due to nagging health issues brought on by the three 400 ft. turbines beyond the woods in the back of her home.
Correspondent Sue Donaldson James spoke with Hobart's physician Steven Rauch, a balance expert at Harvard University who diagnosed Hobart with Wind Turbine Syndrome. It's a controversial ailment not yet recognized by the Centers for Disease Control. Hobart believes the giant turbines create pressure from low-frequency sound known as infrasound and can impact people with sensitive inner ears.
James reached out to other residents within close proximity to the turbines. Some of them referred to their former neighbor as "nuts".
What do you think? Watch the report and ask whether you would chose to live near a Wind Farm.