Done? Yes…OK, No

Done? Yes…OK, No

We get a lot of “How’s the house going?” My recent stock answer is “More or less done.” But that belies the reality that decorating continues. (And, we do still have bit of a punch list.) Beth has a photo shoot scheduled for a few weeks from now and continues to prep for that. As a consequence, I arrive every weekend to the results stuff from Design No. Five.

Most interesting, perhaps, is the suspended bed in the nursery. Kinda boat-y.IMG_9466.jpg

That fat rope also went to good use in the Guest House, where we were short a bannister.

We added a cool fixture upstairs in the Guest House and some more modern lights in the upstairs hall.


In an unexpected twist, having thought were were settled on chairs in the dining room…we weren’t. The new ones are extremely cool. I like them because, while comfortable, they are narrow, and thus allow us to get more folks around our plenty big for a crowd table. Five fit along each side with room to spare. Coolest of all, eight of the ten are subtly accented with one or more sterling silver bees.


We’ve been a little slow about getting artwork up. We own a fair amount with not a ton of wall space, in common areas anyway. And we keep acquiring new. Beth clustered a motley collection of existing pieces in the Red Room along with four new wing back chairs. And, in the Guest House hung a wonderful new one from popular Atlanta artist Sally King Benedict.


Behind the scenes, to address the dryness problem, Scotty installed a simple humidifier on the air handler. This has gotten us up into the acceptable range as measured by the handy little device I bought on Amazon for $9.


Lastly, I strolled by the Red House yesterday. Great progress with new windows and a good looking door on a side that used to be covered with rhododendron.



The Red House

The Red House

While there is little to report from LGH this week, friends Carol and Adam’s renovation is in full swing. Their “Red House” was built in 1843 by Andrew Lovell who, in 1863, sold her. He and his family moved about a third of a mile south, coincidentally, taking up decades of residence at Laughing Gull Hill. Soon after, Captain Lovell became postmaster, and ran the post office in what is now our neighbor’s house on the corner. The map (circa 1880, when Lovell was living at LGH) shows both homes. By the way, legend has it that first croquet played in the US was at the Red House.

Carol’s family moved over from Grand Island to their new family homestead before the summer of 1974. No more midnight treks across the harbor. Sadly, in 2015, the house went on the market. But Carol and Adam, that heroic pair, couldn’t stand it. So they bought out the siblings and moved to Cotuit full time soon after.

The scope of Carol and Adam’s renovation is on the order of the LGH project: updating systems, shoring up the infrastructure, gutting many rooms and making only cosmetic updates to others. But, they are planning the work in stages. In the first stage, they have tackled the kitchen, living room and a large back entry hall/mudroom, about half the main floor. They and their builder (who seems excellent) have sized the first stage to get them back in (from the little cottage they are renting down the street) by July 4.

The kitchen was reconfigured and updated in ’74. It was very dated and, even at the time, not well laid out. The living room was fine, but could be lighter, had a bad chimney and was drafty in winter. The back entry space didn’t lend itself to efficient use. Multiple floor heights across the space were awkward and limiting. Stage one would address all of these issues.

About eight weeks in, there have been some surprises of the unanticipated work kind. Gaps in the siding were horrendous, though fairly straightforward to tighten up with some cables and turnbuckles in the wall. The crumbling stone foundation, far worse than it looked from the outside, was another story.

To deal with the foundation (or lack thereof) the builder took up the floor around the entire perimeter and poured a thick cement footing along the inside. This effectively shored up the old stone construction and provided stable seating for floor joists.26167414_191769101403301_1990989626310142996_n.jpg

Rebuilding began in the back entry, but as they worked their way to the living room and got a peek underneath, the integrity of the floor joists proved questionable…more than. It was a tough call, because Carol has been adamantly committed to keeping the original floor. But in the end, prudence prevailed. She agreed to pulling up the old floorboards with crossed fingers that they can be salvaged. Along the way was another interesting discovery: a root cellar under the corner of the room. Very cool. (And actually, before they started inside, they had discovered an old cistern as part of their perk test.) Ultimately they removed not only the flooring but all the substructure, and were thus down to dirt.

Now, the subfloor is in place and looking sweet. The walls of brand new windows look spectacular, opening up the view to the modern sculpture-adorned yard and across the Barnstable Land Trust‘s Ropes Field on the corner.  Another great addition is the commodious doorway, broken through to the old parlor, now to be used as a dining room, also providing easy access to the marvelous brick patio.


Gutsy job, C & A. We’ll plan on checking in again as the Stage 1 progresses and beyond.

And LGH? We are down to punch list items, but rumor has it that a barn raising might be in the cards. So stay tuned.



Phancy Photos

Phancy Photos

Beth’s Design No. Five, now conveniently located in the Guest House, is pitching the Laughing Gull Hill story to several national publications. They’ve lined up a pro photographer for a comprehensive photo shoot next month. Leading up to that they’ll perform decorating magic on the whole place. Stay tuned.

As a preview, some homegrown shots of Design No. Five work on the house to date. Many of these have shown up on Instagram. If you are into interior design, follow DN5 on Instagram, like the Facebook page, and check out the recently updated website.

The kitchen always looks this clean.

For some reason they always avoid toilet bowls in bathroom shots.

“Larry” the fisherman continues to be the Cocktail Room’s second most popular feature (the bar, of course, dominating the top spot). And, speaking of popular, the most popular linen fabric in DN5’s new textile line is the Mermaid’s Purse in Nantucket Red, tested on twin Cocktail Room chairs. (It works!)

Random other views:

Even the working space in the Guest House is designed to dazzle.

For posterity, some shots of the old offices and warehouse. (Another preview: we are considering barn construction as the future home for DN5 inventory.)

“Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink”

“Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink”

So said Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Rime of the Ancient Mariner, of a ship sweltering in the heat of the doldrums. That’s not the issue here today. It’s pretty unusual for temperatures to be below zero on Cape Cod. But they are. And it’s been bitter cold for weeks. As a consequence, the harbor is frozen across. From my scouting yesterday, I believe one could safely walk to Grand Island, though I won’t try it. This picture below is looking southeast to the island from near the bottom of our hill.

The hot air heating and the fireplace in the Cocktail Room (plus the heat pump in the Guest House) have been working hard to keep up. (The problem is exacerbated by some remaining punch list items. The storm inserts for our doors were never painted and so screens are still in place. Additionally, the old doors could use weather stripping.) As a consequence of weather and heating, it’s super dry in the house, 13% at the moment. We’ve considered a dehumidifier for the system, but Cape Code being Cape Cod, a humidifier has never even been on the radar.

The pic above is looking up at Laughing Gull Hill from the frozen harbor.

We first noticed board shrinkage in the Cocktail Room. Bare wood is showing between the painted strakes of shiplap. As you look around the house, you see similar effects on kitchen cabinets, where you also find the latches not closing properly on shrunken doors. Floor boards too are noticeably gapped. And, even outside, the screen/storm doors have shrunk and cracked in places.


Water pipes have been a concern for everyone, of course, so I was mildly alarmed when Beth mentioned that the faucet for sink in the Guest House was not operating. Modern plumbing seems to favor plastic piping the flexes and is not prone to cracking when iced, so I wasn’t too worried, but did quickly investigate. I stuck my head in and when I turned the under-sink valves, immediately water started to flow. (Who turned them off remains a mystery.) That was when my head got wet. An 1/8 inch gap had opened in the glued-up seam at the bottom of the wooden sink. So, maybe back to the drawing board on that one.

It should be above freezing most of the week. We will see how the remainder of the winter goes before making a decision on a humidity management equipment; could be this is an anomaly. This all reminds me of the old Steven Wright joke:

“For my birthday I got a humidifier and a de-humidifier…I put them in the same room and let them fight it out.”

Lucky 21…months of NYrs Reflection

Lucky 21…months of NYrs Reflection

For old fans and new…and mostly for me. Here’s timeline and some highlights.

March 31, 2016– Purchased Laughing Gull Hill. April Fools!


April, 2016– New Septic. Discovered and replaced cracked pipes under bathrooms. Excavated floor and started gutting the Kitchen.


Early May, 2016– Moved out of old house to live as gypsies. Shored up foundation. Gutted Kitchen and discovered rotted header. Realized all wiring would need replacement.


Late May, 2016– Framed kitchen, opening staircase and adding double door into Dining Room, installed patio (which would serve as our living room) and fire pit, updated Master Bedroom, finished downstairs floors.


June 2016– Replaced old distribution panels, progressed Kitchen and Dining, finished more floors.


July 2016– Moved in July 1. Finished second bath, added bedrooms, dining, outdoor shower, evolved from makeshift kitchen to almost complete (save for sink). Installed signature newel post and bannister.


August 2016– More bedrooms, AC, started upstairs bath, kitchen sink and then some.


September 2016– Installed Mudroom, finished Dining Room, replaced roof. Started Cocktail Room.


October 2016– Finished upstairs bath, added French doors in Cocktail Room, Replaced porches, extended footprint for Master Bath.


November/December 2016– Enclosed Master Bath, started replacing all siding, replaced most windows, rebuilt chimney, furnished dining room, finished Cocktail Room…readied for Christmas.


Winter 2017– Mostly suspended activity and enjoyed the quiet Cape Cod winter. Did take some time to finish more floors. And started the bar project.


Spring 2017– Finished the bar in the Cocktail Room. Worked on the yard and gardens including leveling tent area in yard. Finished most re-siding


July 2017– Replaced driveway, progressed master bath and closet project, continued furnishing and decorating bedrooms. Hosted two fundraisers: a dinner and a house tour.


August 2017– More or less finished Master Bath. Started in on Guest House.


September 2017– Final touches on Master Bath. Progress on Guest House.


Autumn 2017– Finished Guest House. Installed alarm system. Remodeled awkward front stair landing. Readied for second Christmas.


Happy New Year from LGH!!!



Halls Decked…

Halls Decked…

Merry Christmas from LGH.


A warm hearth warms the heart.

With paint on the stocking rod, we can hang the stockings by the chimney without care.  Kitchen hearth is looking good too.

Karen also painted the shelf in the dining room. I was expecting the trim color, but it looks great with the crazy gray of the wall.


In parallel, Beth hung a series of prints from Barloga Studios. They are wonderful renderings of knots printing an amazing handmade paper.

Beth does a good table.


And, not just the dining room table.

Meanwhile back in the Cocktail Room.

Including Cape Cod-appropriate ornaments.

So, things are looking pretty festive, inside and out.

OK, enough with the computer; get out and have yourself a merry little Christmas now.




It’s a busy, happy time for most, and not least Ed Lacey and his crew who have been just-in-time finishing off some bits we need before the house fills up next weekend.

Hanging hooks, for example, in the kitchen porch, for guest coats. And upstairs where the closet used to be before we reconfigured. Should get some paint on the boards this week.

In the guest house bath, hang now a fun new fixture and an faithful old family mirror. The guys also finished off the shower with a threshold and curtain rod, curtain on the way. All welcome additions for the forthcoming first guests to stay there. (As an aside, despite unusual temps in the teens, the heat pump has had no problem keeping it comfortable in there. A big thumb’s up for the modern technology.)

For Santa’s convenience, Ed designed a stocking-dowel arrangement in front of the fire. It can fold up under the mantel in the off-season (although it looks so nice, maybe we will just leave it in place).


Lest we lose any kitchen-helper guests down into the cellar, Ed rebuilt the hatchway on the floor of the cleaning closet.


We added new hanging lights over the long dining table which orphaned a chandelier that had hung in my grandparent’s dining room (just a half mile down Main Street) for decades. It’s very old, converted from gas. When I was very young, my grandmother convinced me it was enchanted by tossing Hershey’s kisses from behind me so that they appeared to drop magically for the chandelier. In any case, it is special, and fortunately it has found a new home in our bedroom (where it perfectly complements Beth’s Peloton bike).

So, we are starting to feel ready. After a couple of snowstorms, the neighborhood is looking like winter wonderland. Knocking wood for a white Christmas.

And, we’ve been doing our best to doll up LGH for the holidays. All the best to you and yours!