A Little Going at LGH, and Big Red Comes on Strong

A Little Going at LGH, and Big Red Comes on Strong

Sorry, fans, if you feel neglected. Laughing Gull Hill has been pretty stable. Here’s a gloomy, rainy day update. The only LGH report is a new fence. I took down the buoy collection a few weeks ago and reinstalled last week.

Work on Big Red restarted this fall. To review the bidding, Carol and Adam bought and have been updating (to say the least) the family home. During the off season last year, they completely redid the first floor. Tag: Big Red will take you to several blogs. So, now attention has turned to the second floor. 

They are going through room by room, starting with the guest room (once the maids’ quarters) in the rear of the house. The plan for each room is to gut and insulate the walls, install new windows, add new layer of wallboard to clean up the ceiling (cutting in vents for the HVAC in the attic), and restore the old floors. Can’t wait to see the rag tag old floors refinished. The guest suite is part way though the process.

While the first floor is essentially done, they have just added a gas fireplace insert. Very high BTUs, remote control, duel-mode, fans and lights. Pretty darn convenient!

And, they are gradually restoring the torn up areas around the outside. The last I saw the shower, it was just plumbing and hung sheets, and you had to walk the plank to get there. The shower (and sailboard storage) structure is now in place along with a stone patio in and out. And, all is accompanied by a very reasonable offer. 

The shingling continues on the second floor as the windows go in. All looking great, as is the stone walk to the new farmer’s porch. 

I’ve not been as intimately involved, but have been sneaking and logging pics of a couple more local restoration projects. Stay tuned.


Happy Ending…just the beginning!

Happy Ending…just the beginning!

Happy Summer, All. Life’s been slow at LGH, but we’ve been remiss in not updating you on the project down the street at Carol and Adam’s Red House. Thankfully, they provided the perfect impetus last night with a cocktail party to show off the wonderful transformation.

Who couldn’t feel welcome at “Big Red?” Evidently they may still be working on the landscaping around the new entry, although the plywood has a nice feel.

Sneaking through the house for peek on the way to the back for cocktails…first stop is the mudroom wherein the closet in  hides a convenient laundry. (Rumor is there could, one day, be a chute from upstairs.) Around the corner is a powder room with mirror and sink to die for. Hipper, they could not be.

Across the way, the outdoor shower can’t go without mention. How creatively they eschewed a standard wooden enclosure. OK, work in progress, maybe. The stone slabs are amazing and will be great for keeping post-shower feet clean.


And then, the kitchen. As with many such projects, this was the biggest change. The old one looked a little dated even when it was installed in 1974. The new is fab. Compact, but accommodating of spectators and splendidly laid out. And how great that Carol as able to preserve the family’s favorite china cabinet, with monstrous enough space to allow for lean cabinetry through the rest of the space.

The changes to the modern living room were more subtle but marked. For years, this was the dining room, a big one required for the big, extended family. But when Beth staged the place for sale, which ultimately convinced Carol to buy from herself, she switched it up. And the new scheme works perfectly for the fam, giving them a huge living space with beautiful south and west facing windows that bring the outside in.


Reluctantly, Carol gave up on saving the old flooring in the living room when structural considerations required its removal. A nice side effect was being able to resolve the quirky combination of floor heights, odd-looking and a lawsuit waiting to happen. The resultant pristine new floor perfectly compliments the modern look.

But, in the front hall and dining room, removing the traditional Cape Cod floor paint revealed fantastic, rustic original wood. In the front hall, the boards had, at one point, be stained alternately red and green. Carol and I argued the merits of keeping the tinting–I having no vote. But the wisdom of her decision to go au natural speaks for itself. As does the coolness of a live edge dining table to

Finally (whew) a perfect night for cocktails. Under the incredible ancient trumpet vines that add such character to the beautiful outdoor setting.

Stay tuned come Autumn when phase 2 kicks in.

Global Entry

Global Entry

Yay! Beth, Design No. Five and Laughing Gull Hill are the stars of a feature story in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. We are all super proud to see her get the well-deserved recognition. Beth generously shared the limelight with many of her key partners and suppliers on the project, also mentioned in the article, which which does a delightful job telling the story of the house.Untitled.jpeg

As described in Shot to Pieces a few months ago, Beth invited in noted “interior and lifestyle photographer” Joyelle West to do her thing at LGH. She spent a full day here setting up intricate shots to capture the look, and more importantly the feel, of every room…even the bathrooms!


Coincidentally, Joyelle is the Boston Globe’s go to interiors photographer, so after the paper picked up the story, they sent their ace back down to capture a series “lifestyle” pics to round out the story. Again, it was amazing to see how much time and care the team put into styling and staging each shot, 30 minutes at least, before she would snap away.


The Globe reporter had really grooved on the indoor/outdoor nature of the Cocktail Room and Patio combination, so Joyelle was under orders to get at least one shot to captured. Critical to the shot was getting the sail-like tension cover installed in order to  provide just the right lighting on the patio.

Somewhat ironically, only a sliver of the “sail” shows up in the final piece. Still, we thought it appropriate to celebrate the article last night at Crisp Flatbread Company who’s own sails, also from Sperry Sails, inspired this wonderful addition to the patio.


Shady, Under Cover Operation

Shady, Under Cover Operation

The patio was our first addition to the house. It functioned as our living room while the rest of the joint was under construction. It works beautifully for hanging out and entertaining, but has always been a little hot at midday in the height of the summer. So, we added some shade.


Beth’s inspiration came from similar “tensioned covers” she spotted at Crisp Flatbread Company, one of our favorite restaurants on the Cape. A few questions and a little research lead her to Sperry Fabric Architecture. The company is a spinoff off of Sperry Sails, a forty year old sail loft in Marion. A couple months ago, she rang them up and arranged a consult with Seth, their field guy. He spent an hour or so with us and more or less conceived of the design on the spot. A week later he provided us a detailed design (from their CAD system) and a proposal.

We were out of town when they installed last week, so don’t have a sense for how long it took. We’d been pretty sure we wanted to do it when Seth visited, so discussed maintenance with him. It should be straightforward for me to take down in the fall (or for hurricanes) and to reinstall in the spring. It’s pretty much just lines and knots. I’ll probably take down the guyed mast and store inside as well.

It rained last night and things stayed fairly dry under the cover although that was not the main purpose. And, the light fabric lets plenty of light through, so the cocktail room stays brighten, even on a cloudy Memorial Day.


Countdown to Red

Countdown to Red

I’ve been peeking in the windows for weeks, but on my walk yesterday, texted Carol who kindly OKed my sneaking into “Big Red” to check on progress. She tells me they have an early June move in date. So far the contractor has been very good with schedule.

The floors they were able to preserve have all been refinished. In the gutted areas, they’ve put in beautiful new pine that is ready for stain. I love the juxtaposition of the slate next to the patio door as well as the way they turned the boards perpendicular at the far end of the living room corresponding to the exposed beam. Walls and new bullseye trim are fresh painted and look super.


They’ve preserved many of the wonderful details that characterize the house. The big cabinet in the kitchen was the most work. A favorite of Carol’s, in order to work in the new layout, they had to shift it a few feet from its original location. Well worth the effort to retain the memories and commodious storage.


Opening doors, I was able to detect work in progress. We still have some closets that look similar at Laughing Gull Hill. In fact, there were many reminders of our own house and project. The two are very different, but elements have a similar feel. As reported, the Lovell family were common residents, living here before moving a couple blocks into town.


A before/after. You can see the outside door that went away. They now have tons of storage in the huge mudroom.


The exterior, too, has been progressing as well. The new covered entrance to the mudroom replaces the door that had been around the corner. So, they are good to go and will put a wrap on Phase One before the summer. I can’t wait for kitchen cabinets and appliances. Stay tuned.




More on the Red House. Carol sent me into sneak around and record progress with a few pics. The big deal this week was new molding, nicely done to match the old. First, the old:


And, voila, the new. They seem to have matched the old bullseye molding perfectly.

Preserving the old with the new is clearly a goal of Carol and Adam’s. They’ve kept some nice details. Old cabinetry, which was moved into what they called the “summer kitchen.” A neat old window. And, I’m particularly pleased they maintained the narrow maids’ stair in the back.

I don’t know where this door will end up, but I’m glad they are keeping it.


This kind of preservation doesn’t come easy. It takes planning and often costs more than replacement, but IMO is mandatory when rehabbing and old house. Not being on site all the time, stuff can often slip by and decisions are made without the homeowner. So Carol and Adam were smart to make their desires known in writing.

Yesterday, I though about another parallel between the Red House and Laughing Gull Hill. Regular readers will know that Capt. Lovell, who moved from there to LGH, became Cotuit’s postmaster. Well, in somewhat of a coincidence, Carol’s parents rescued the old Wianno Summer post office and moved it to the Red House lot. Needs a little rehab itself, but it remains a fun feature of the property.


Lastly, Spring has sprung in Cotuit, and our ospreys are back, squeaking away and wildly active this weekend. (A little Googling tells me that Ospreys head down towards the Caribbean in the fall.)

X’Ray Vision

X’Ray Vision

Of course, Carol, the proprietor of the Red House is a fan. She particularly likes the postings that feature her house. Responding to last week’s lament at my not having snapped any pictures of the superior electrical work before the walls were closed, Carol supplied me with a few she had taken. Neatly wired, no?


And, Carol shared a few shots of her plumbing, too. Also, nicely-done.


Plaster went up on the walls this week. They are now working on the window molding, matching up to the antique modeling throughout.


As is my wont, I strolled by the Red House on my walk yesterday. Here’s a view of the house nestled in the woods across Ropes Field (owned and maintained by the Barnstable Land Trust).


Back at Laughing Gull Hill, there was another photoshoot yesterday, this one more focused on details than full room shots. My intent had been to share some of the photos from the first photo shoot. But, Beth shut me down as she is trying to keep her powder dry for House Beautiful or Architectural Digest each of which, as I understand it, have a larger readership than the LGH blog (though surely no more devoted).