From historic materials to built-in beds, Lindsay Moore, Associate at SV Design in Chatham, Massachusetts shares all the secrets to updating a home while respecting its history.
This 1900s Chatham cottage is a one-and-a-half-story, shingle-style modified Dutch Colonial.
Originally built as a summer cottage for Della and Captain John Hammond, Jr. in the early 1900s, this one-and-a-half-story Chatham home desperately needed a renovation when the current homeowners bought it in 2019. Their mission was to preserve the home’s history and character while also making it comfortable enough for a family of eight to stay in all summer and durable enough to survive another century or two.
To accomplish these goals, there needed to be a seamless integration of architecture and interior design—SV Design’s collaborative specialty. Their architects and designers work closely with clients to make their vision come to life, which is exactly what Moore, an interior designer based out of the firm’s Cape Cod office, and the project’s architects did for this historic cottage’s homeowners.
We sat down with Moore to learn the ins and outs of redesigning a home while maintaining its rich history.
What was your main priority going into the Captain’s Row project?
The absolute main priority was respecting the historic nature of this house—both from an exterior and interior point of view. The face of it from the outside didn't change drastically, which was intentional. Interior-wise, we kept the original open framing exposed on the first floor and utilized it as a structural bookcase, if you will. We also kept the exposed joints on the ceilings -- that was an intentional design detail we wanted to preserve for historic reasons.
Moore and the SV Design team incorporated the exposed original open framing as a structural bookcase. (See left wall)
How did you approach this redesign?
One of the main things I always do when starting a project is to fully understand how someone is going to live in the space. For this project, the client wanted all eight people in his family to be able to sit in the main living room together, and he wanted everyone to have a place to sleep, too. So, it was important for us to open up that main space to fit more people in at once, and I think we achieved that beautifully.
How is redesigning a historic home like this different from working on a newer home or blank canvas?
I'm not going to say it's easier or harder. It's just different. I find myself constantly looking back into history. History is timeless in a way—it's never going to go out of style. When you have a foundation of working on a historic home, you don’t get distracted by trends. It keeps you focused on materials and styles they had back in the 1900s or whenever the home was built, and it inspires and guides you—it lights your path a little bit.
By building the beds into the wall, the designers and architects were able to create more storage space.
Did you run into any roadblocks during this project, and how did you overcome them?
We wanted people to be able to stay there for the whole summer and have enough storage, but getting enough storage, especially in the bedrooms, was tricky. We solved this by building everything in—built-in closets, cabinetry and all the beds are built-in. We didn't have room for a good size headboard, so the built-in beds with storage underneath and on either side of the beds was key. Now guests can comfortably stay for a few months.
How do SV Design architects and interior designers collaborate on a project like this?
Every day. We work hand-in-hand. I worked very closely with our architectural senior project manager, Sean Henry, on this project, and he was in it from the beginning. I followed suit when it came to the materials, but most of the layout was already done in terms of bathrooms and figuring out HVAC. Something as simple as knowing where a floor vent is going to go is critical for furnishings. You don’t want a sofa or carpet covering up your vents. It sounds silly, but I've had instances in the past where I showed up on installation day and was surprised to see a vent in the floor where the sofa or rug was being placed. A huge benefit of having your interior designers and architects in the same office is that we’re always on the same page and oversights like that are completely avoided.
Using materials native to the time period of the historic home creates cohesion and honors the character of the residence.
How did you incorporate the history of the home into the redesign?
We really respected the original bones of the house, and we also brought in historical materials. We did engineered flooring, for example, but it’s reclaimed. It’s all different-sized boards, different widths—something that you would naturally find in a captain’s home. We did granite countertops instead of the modern marble countertops that you see now. We tried to stay true to the time period.
Were there any historic details that the homeowners were set on keeping?
There was one exposed beam on the second floor that the homeowner was set on keeping. Originally, we were going to cover it up, as we thought it was in an awkward spot above the doorway, but as we began to finish the space with the beam exposed, I was into it. The contractor cleaned it up a bit and took some paint off, but we pretty much left it as is, and it turned out beautiful.
Now, the homeowner’s entire eight-person family can comfortably lounge around the living room coffee table.
What was your highlight of this project?
I always find the best thing about a project is walking through a completed space at the very end and seeing all of the design elements come together in a way so that they appear effortless. That, to me, is the highlight of my job. For this project, I remember going to the house, and the client was living there and had his family over. I just stopped in for a second to say hi, and I loved the moment when I saw every single seat in that living room filled with somebody. We were able to get the entire eight-person family sitting together in one spot, which is exactly what he wanted. That was a huge success.
Explore the details of this epic historic redesign here: svdesign.com/portfolio/captains-row.