Beach House Revisited, Orleans, MA

My lovely sister-in-law hosted us for a long weekend family reunion in Orleans, just above the crook of Cape Cod's elbow.

via pinterest

Five years ago we stayed in the same house. Back then, the interior was really showing its dated age and the wear and tear of decades of happy summers. Fortunately, a much needed renovation was completed last year. The location, views and landscaping are exceptional. The beauty of this house is definitely on the inside.

Let's take a look at the exterior and grounds first. Not much on the outside has changed in the last 5 years.

The house is built into a little hill with an upper and lower driveway. This is the entrance to the lower drive that no one seems to use except the UPS man, and me.

The official front of the house. The original house probably started at the front door and extended right to the end of the first dormer. Hard to guess the age of the original, maybe 50-60 years? The cobbled together exterior belies a very well done interior renovation. This house is a good example of you can't judge a book by its quirky cover.

Barely visible is a map of Cape Cod on the peak above the three windows.

There is a Cape-wide ordinance requiring a minimum of two hydrangeas per residential lot. This house is in full compliance and in fact, far exceeds the minimum.

The steps to the front walk are framed by heavenly blue and dramatic purple hydrangeas.

Blue hydrangea on the right, purple on the left.

Trailing English Ivy helps disguise the old cement pavers used for the steps and retaining walls. Everyone uses the upper drive which is the first one on the road, it leads to the garages, parking area, storage shed for kayaks and such, and the rear entrance. Maybe that's why they didn't redo the steps.
English Ivy and heather planted at the base of the blue bush.
Heather spiking up through the ivy is genius gardening. 

I love this combination.

The purple hydrangea. She is gorgeous!

This bush puts my so called purple hydrangea to shame.

I wonder if she inspired the front door's color. This is the first purple door I've seen in real life that works well.

The great lawn is off the family room and deck.

If this house were mine, or if I were consulting on the project, I would replace the old picture window in the family room (the big window on the right flanked by two narrow windows) with sliders and wrap the deck all the way around.

We breakfasted and cocktail houred every day on the deck.

The built in benches were my preferred spot.

The view from the deck's corner is framed by pines. Beautiful.

The deck chairs have a a bar across the back, very handy for drying laundry.

The back yard is narrow and completely shaded by pine trees. Shed needles are fragrant and make a crunchy ground cover. Bonus: no grass to mow here. An inviting hammock strung between the pines is an idyllic spot for a post lunch nap or a good read.

Let's finally go inside. Entering the front door, an Arts and Crafts style table anchors four vintage watercolors.

Family Room on the left of the front entrance. Homey, in a good way.

The cousins enjoyed the Family Room after hard days of body surfing and biking.

Now you might ask why would I put a picture of my family on the blog?
Because humans in interiors give our eye the ability to judge the scale.

Seriously serious gamers.

A puzzle table overlooks the great lawn.

The Family Room's new built-ins are very well done.

Slider to the deck on the left, French Doors to the kitchen on the right.

I like that the owners corralled (mostly) their basket collection in this antique display/book case. It sits in one corner of the Family Room.

An antique cranberry harvesting tool sits on top with the birds.

My favorite room. The kitchen. Large. Spacious.

The kitchen reno was total. New cabinetry, appliances, lighting, countertops, glass subway tile back splash, flooring. This kitchen was a joy to work in; the galley layout is very efficient. Two wall ovens, a warming drawer, a six burner drop in, a microwave drawer (love it), trash compactor plus a pull out with two waste bins, one for normal trash and one for recyclables. I love that the owners chose cabinet panels for the refrigerator and dishwasher rather than stainless steel.

Here's a pic from the website.

Photo via We Need a Vacation.
This pic is a bit more yellow than in reality, see the one I took below for more accurate color.

I especially liked the sea glass green glass subway tile back splash, the big, deep sink and the huge prep/breakfast peninsula.

The vaulted ceiling makes the dining area feel very spacious, even with ten adults milling about.
I did the floral arrangement then tidied up and took this picture.

The vaulted ceiling makes the space feel spacious, not cavernous. The dining area is always light filled thanks to two walls of windows. In the pic below, a huge picture window looks out to the deck (on the left) and a bank of double hung windows on the right take in the pine treed back yard. The telescope comes in handy for checking out the goings on in the inlet.

photo by Linda Pakravan

The home's color scheme of sagey, sea glass greens is a subtle beach vibe as well as creating a very soothing sense of calm. Even in the powder room.

I am now a bead board convert.

The attention to detail was remarkable. Just look at how nicely they trimmed around the commode's water supply.

These petite bird watercolors hung above a sweet rattan console in the powder room. They take on more presence with their large mats and didn't seem too "matchy matchy" with the charming wallpaper. The owners must love watercolors, every room has several.

Three of the four bedrooms were redone with en-suite baths. All very, very nice but I have no pics of them. Other thoughtful elements included in the renovation: an outdoor shower, a laundry room right off the new rear entrance (so handy when you arrive after a day's beaching and biking), new pantries, a great sound system, wi-fi, cable TV, central air. They retained the original fireplace and a small sitting room just off the kitchen.

This house was perfect for us. It comes with linens, bath towels, beach towels, a stocked pantry of staples, cooking utensils, a gas grill out back, a cleaning service that really cleans and does the laundry.

That's it for house pics.

This post would have been far more interesting if we had some before shots, but hind sight and all. Five years ago, in 2010, if anyone remembers, the Great Recession was upon us. People were loosing their jobs and selling summer homes, not renovating them. I remember just being happy to be able to be on vacation.

Yeah, in 2010 this quirky house on the Cape was underwhelming but we had a wonderful family get together.

For my dear readers who do not live in the Paradise more commonly known as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, rest assured no one but me goes to the Cape to take pictures of summer homes. It's all about the beach, the food and the The Great Debate on Who Has the Best Lobster Roll.

For the record, we're also very concerned about The Best Croissant. Croissant is a hard word to pronounce, and it sounds foreign to New Englanders so we don't like to talk about it. One caveat, if your beloved sister-in-law asks you where you acquired the best chocolate croissant she's had in years (accompanied by a robust but finessed french roast coffee with half and half that she hasn't had in 7! months) then you are obligated to tell her that you must arrive at this mystery location well before 9 AM or they will be SOLD OUT!

Beaches and food in the next post.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan


  1. So much curb appeal! And the kitchen. And of course, the thought of family gatherings and evenings on the patio and games. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. You're welcome! We had a wonderful time.

  2. What a beautiful setting! Those hydrangeas!! And how lovely to enjoy meals on the deck with that view. Yes, please! Cheers, L

  3. Linda, we are blown away by your wonderful write-up and pictures of our home! We have loved that home and its wonderful setting for 20 years. The renovation was truly a collective effort. In fact, I have sent your blog post to all of the key specialists who were involved in the process – a very talented group indeed. We loved your beautiful pictures of the hydrangeas, heather, and other plantings, which are at their finest in the summer when we’re not there to appreciate them! And you picked up on some interior design elements that even we hadn’t noticed (e.g., the woodwork around the plumbing). We consider your blog post a gift to us – thank you! We’re happy that you enjoyed your weekend visit.

    Joan and Jeff Talmadge

    P.S. Anxious to know the source of the best croissant on the Cape -- is it PB Boulangerie Bistro in Wellfleet?

    1. Thank you! Your home was the perfect setting for our family get-together!


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