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Rehab Diaries: A Wellfleet Guest Cottage Revived on Cape Cod

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Rehab Diaries: A Wellfleet Guest Cottage Revived on Cape Cod

December 16, 2019

Our Wellfleet guest cottage started life as a potting shed, a storage spot for lawnmowers, bags of soil, rakes, hoes, etc. Then, in the 1970s, my mother turned it into what she called “the studio” (it even had its own phone line!), where she worked at her desk overlooking the garden. She installed a small kitchen, added a bathroom, and used the space as a retreat and a place for overflow guests. When she died in 2004, my husband Josh and I inherited the property, but until this past summer, the guest cottage had remained untouched and had become almost uninhabitable (except for mice and spiders). Josh and I realized we had to do something—fast—to save the structure, so we enlisted our friend Malachi Connolly, a New York/Cape Cod-based architect, preservationist, and longtime board member of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust, to come up with a plan.

“I love the intimacy and efficiency of small spaces,” Malachi says. “It was nice to work with the simple shed shape, which organically provided a sitting room downstairs and a sleeping loft upstairs. This separation of elements lent a kind of purity to the contemplation of how to craft the spaces. And I think the decision to remove the tiny kitchen liberated the space from having to perform multiple living tasks and transformed it into a more gracious bedroom suite with an outdoor shower.”

Here’s a look:

Photography and styling by Justine Hand.

wellfleet guest house exterior brick path
Above: The entrance to the newly rehabbed guest cottage. “Working with Truro-based Tim Dickey Design/Build, we salvaged as much of the original structure as possible,” Malachi says, “which involved several steps: tearing up the rotting plywood plank floor and replacing it, removing the damaged drywall, adding insulation, installing new windows from Marvin, and replacing the roof. The only survivor: the original arched window panel to the right of the entrance.”
wellfleet guest house exterior light detail
Above: A detail of the exterior anodized aluminum Mast Light from Original BTC; it’s a design that dates to the mid 20th century, and was originally a mast-mounted fitting for illuminating yacht decks. (Malachi likes it so much he’s using it in another Wellfleet remodel he’s working on.)
wellfleet guest house downstairs peak thru door
Above: The wood screen door, from Special Buildings’ Supply in Brewster, MA, is painted a custom cobalt blue shade from Benjamin Moore, which we matched to the main house’s front door.
wellfleet guest house downstairs door with shaker pegs
Above: The peg rails are from Peg and Rail; the Venetian bronze doorknobs are from Baldwin. (For more ideas, go to 10 Easy Pieces: Simple Doorknobs.)
wellfleet guest house downstairs daybed
Above: A pair of cream Task Lamps from Original BTC flank the the Donald Judd-inspired Twin Daybed from Urban Green in Brooklyn. The small dresser is original to the house, and the green glass bottle lamp is from a yard sale.
wellfleet guest house downstairs ladder
Above: The staircase, rafters, and beams are all original; rather than painting them, we left them in their natural state. The striped cotton flatweave rug is from Madeline Weinrib, who closed her line last year after twenty years in business (there’s good news, though, she’ll be launching a limited edition collection of rugs soon).
wellfleet guest house downstairs bestlite floor lamp binochs
Above: A Remodelista favorite, the Ikea Frosta stool, serves as a side table (but it seems to have disappeared from the Ikea site). The walls are painted Atrium White from Benjamin Moore.
wellfleet guest house downstairs bathroom door
Above: The petite Architectura Toilet is from Villeroy & Boch and the robe hook is vintage. The plywood floors are painted Stonington Gray from Benjamin Moore. (Whenever I need a paint suggestion I immediately call Justine Hand, our Remodelista contributing photographer, a fellow Cape Codder who has tested every possible version of gray and swears by this shade.)
wellfleet guest house downstairs bathroom
Above: An Original BTC Hector Medium Dome Wall Light illuminates the small bathroom; the wall-mounted sink is from Duravit, and the recessed Palmer Medicine Cabinet is from Rejuvenation. The Vola HV1 Mixer Faucet in white is a tribute to my mother, who spec’d a Vola faucet (a rarity at the time) when she designed the previous bath. (A clam shell serves as soap holder, an old Cape Cod trick.) The Black Point Mercantile canvas floor mat (sadly, no longer available) is from John Derian’s Provincetown shop. For something similar, go to Sault New England.
wellfleet guest cottage sleeping loft
Above: The sleeping loft has original detailing and the original wood plank floor. The Urban Basics Storage Bed is from Urban Green in Brooklyn and the Marie Patterned Quilt is from Les Indiennes, bought on sale at Sue Fisher King in San Francisco. The mattress is from Casper.
wellfleet guest house bedroom art
Above (L to R): A pastel by Truro artist Rob DuToit, a still-life by Wellfleet photographer Rachel Brown, and an ink drawing by Rob Dutoit.
wellfleet guest house bedside detail feathers
Above: A pair of Hector Medium Dome Wall Lights from Original BTC serves as reading lights.
wellfleet guest house exterior with shower
Above: Malachi redesigned the outdoor shower using horizontal mahogany slats.

For more Cape Cod inspiration, see:

The Soulful Side of Old Cape Cod: Justine’s Family Cottage

An Artist’s Cottage in Truro, MA, Gets an Overhaul from a Boston Design Duo (Ikea Included)

A Shipshape Cape Cod Cottage Inspired by Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic”

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