How to Build the Classic, Custom Cape Cod Home of Your Dreams

Text by Kaitlin Madden Photography by Amber Jane

Cape Cod living beckons a particular lifestyle. For many, it’s nostalgia and serenity, a calm among the everyday. It’s a getaway with beautiful places to explore and hidden jewels to discover. Living, working and playing on Cape Cod is a gift at any time of year, and though the Cape might embody a rustic, beachy aesthetic, that doesn’t mean your vacation get-away or your retirement home has to skimp on amenities. McPhee Associates of Cape Cod, a design-build firm that also offers addition, renovation, property management and real estate services, knows how to customize even small spaces for the discerning homeowner.

“People have a real connection to this area,” says Rob McPhee, president of McPhee Associates, “whether it’s because they have memories of it as a child and want to pass that on to their kids and grandkids, or they live nearby and are looking for a place to spend the summer.”

If you are considering retiring to Cape Cod or building a vacation home in the area, here are some things to consider.

First, your dream beach home might not be as large as your house in the suburbs. This leads us to a concept fraught with emotion: downsizing. But a smaller footprint doesn’t have to translate to a less luxurious living space.

“Our clients want to be able to own a second home or build a retirement home on the Cape and have it be affordable without sacrificing the quality in which they’ve grown accustomed,” says McPhee. “It comes down to designing high-quality custom homes on a smaller scale. We work with people to value-engineer their homes and help them make the best decisions that their budget allows.”

“Custom” is the key word. Not only does McPhee Associates assist in customizing homes for many working professionals and retirees, the firm works to build custom relationships with its clients from the beginning. “It’s a partnership,” says McPhee of the company model. “Whether we’re handling the design and construction of a project or working with an architect along with the homeowner and, in some cases, an interior designer or landscape architect.”

Second, there’s a good chance that you will be designing and building your home from afar. The key to doing this successfully is to set a realistic budget and to simplify, says McPhee.

What does it mean to simplify? It means a beautiful home with all the niceties — custom trim details, tiled showers, built-in cabinetry — that is scaled to fit your needs. Today, homeowners, particularly those looking to downsize or settle into a new phase of life, are seeking out homes with more efficiency and warranties and less maintenance and operating costs. Simply put, they want easy living, and isn’t that what Cape Cod is all about?

“As a house becomes smaller, it’s less costly to do those little things that really add to the space, like coffered ceilings, shiplap on the walls, or the addition of a fireplace,” says McPhee.

Finally, it’s critical to recognize that, over time, one’s living needs can change. What once served as a formal dining space may easily convert into a playroom or additional guest room. Empty nesters may opt to lessen the bedroom count to create the library they’ve always desired.

“Nowadays, people are designing homes based more on their lifestyle rather than what tradition dictates,” says McPhee. “They aren’t going as large and over-the-top on spaces that are only used a few times a year. Instead, they focus on putting effort and money into the areas they’ll use the most.”

As a company, McPhee Associates is here for both the big and small. The firm works within budget and building parameters, though there are multiple moving parts and components to what that means. What works for one homeowner may not work for the next, and it’s McPhee’s adaptability that has made it the company it is today.

The project shown is a custom model home (for sale as of publication date) in the desirable East Dennis neighborhood of Windward Village, one of three McPhee developments along Setucket Road. Minutes from golf courses, the harbor and bay beaches, Windward Village and its neighbor, Windward East, have homes and lots for sale that provide the amenities, conveniences, and efficiencies owners of second homes or retirees are looking for.

McPhee Associates of Cape Cod, East Dennis, MA, 508-385-2704

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