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Cape Cod Reconstruction

A family summer home gets a fresh attitude by blending old with new

Written by Sandra S. Soria
  • Bruce Buck

    For a full decade, Lance and Tracy Isham discussed renovating their classic, shingled cottage on Cape Cod that has been in Tracy’s family since the 1940s. Why the foot-dragging? "For years," says Tracy, "I didn’t have the heart to make changes. It still felt like my mother’s house. It was vitally important to retain the feeling of home for the whole family."

    Nonetheless, their extended family and post-retirement lifestyle (the two use the place as home base) demanded the structure’s overhaul. The goal was a seamless renovation, blending old with new to conjure up a fresh attitude for year-round living without marring the summerhouse spirit.

    Seen here is the sunroom, perfect for morning coffee and naptime for Lucy
    ("We call her Lucky Lucy," says Tracy).

    Architect: Douglas E. Dick, LDA Architects, 222 Third St., #0222, Cambridge, MA 02142; 617/621-1455,
    Interior design: Michael Cox and Mary Foley, Foley & Cox Interiors Inc., 5 E. 20th St., New York, NY 10003; 212/529-5800.
    Contractor: Craig Ashworth, EB Norris & Son Inc., 138 Osterville W. Barnstable Rd., Osterville, MA 02632; 508/428-1165.

    Photography: Bruce Buck
    Produced by Jenny Bradley

    Wicker sofa, coffee table: owner’s collection.
    Sofa fabric:  Sunbrella,
    Pillows: antique.
    Hanging hurricanes: Lars Bolander, 212/924-1000,

  • Bruce Buck

    The sunroom furnishings were left casual, but updated with hard-wearing Sunbrella outdoor fabric. The blues of the room mirror the colors of Nantucket Sound.

    Wicker sofa; rattan chairs; nesting tables; twin coffee tables: owner’s collection.
    Sofa fabric:  Sunbrella,
    Pillows: antique.
    Shades (bamboo): Martin Albert Interiors, 212/673-8000.
    Fan: Lighting by Gregory, 800/807-1826,

  • Bruce Buck

    The project started as an update of the main living areas, plus a two-story bump-out to one side of the house that would accommodate a master bedroom and sunroom/library/office. Then, when structural issues were uncovered, it snowballed into a complete renovation. "In the end," laughs Lance, "it was in essence a teardown—we just did it on the inside."

    The living room layout remained the same, but larger, more energy-efficient windows replaced their drafty predecessors—adding a real comfort factor for Lance. "It’s nice to be able to read the Sunday paper there without having it flapping in the breeze," he jokes.

    In fact, the flow of the living room stayed more the same than anyone originally intended. "It was funny," says interior designer Michael Cox. "We probably drew up 10 different furniture arrangements for the living room,  but we ended up using the exact same arrangement the family had long enjoyed."

    Sofa with leather trim ("Chilton Sofa’’ #223-02): Ralph Lauren Home, 888/475-7674,
    Sofa fabric ("Sanderling’’/Dune #SNG1): Peter Fasano Ltd., 413/528-6872,, trade only. Available through John Rosselli & Assoc., 212/593-2060, trade only.
    Leather piping: Global Leathers, 212/244-5190,
    Pillow fabric ("Jezira’’ #JEZI-02, Jellabee Collection by Malabar): Hines & Co., 800/996-9607, trade only.
    Wicker chair by sofa ("Barrymore Chair’’ #311-03): Ralph Lauren Home, 888/475-7674.
    Fabric on wicker chair ("Broken Stripe’’/Smoke, by Christopher Farr): A.M. Collections, 212/207-8746,, trade only.
    Coffee table (#FNCT-CS-001): Mecox Gardens, 212/249-5301,
    Table-skirt fabric: Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900,, trade only.
    Table lamp ("The Saladino Lamp’’): John Saladino, 212/684-3720,, trade only.
    Etching (Boy in a Boat by Francis Chapin): owner’s collection.
    Round table: Ballard Designs, 800/536-7551,
    Bisque-colored lamp (antique); white club chair: owner’s collection.
    Chair fabric (linen #10003-01 by Christian Liaigre): Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, trade only.
    Wood table (by Paul Ebbitts): Foley & Cox Interiors Inc., 212/529-5800.
    Sofa: owner’s collection.
    Sofa fabric ("Pembroke’’/Cascade #92522-12): Rogers & Goffigon Ltd., 212/888-3242, trade only.
    Carpet: A.M. Collections, 212/207-8746, trade only.
    Drapery (#P397-21, in Striped Oyster): Libeco-Lagae,
    Drapery fabrication: Martin Albert Interiors,, 212/673-8000.
    Paint ("Calm’’ #OC-22): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.

  • Bruce Buck

    "We developed an interior concept that would maintain the home’s history and continue to reflect the personality of the family," says designer Cox. "For example, the footprint of the dining room did not change, but additional ceiling height was captured during the renovation, and new wood floors were installed. The raffia-covered walls had been redecorated over the years with white paint. We took them back to the original concept by choosing an updated, natural raffia-weave wall covering."

    The family’s antique dining table was retained; the side chairs were reupholstered in summery stripes. The host chairs were custom-made to provide extra seating.

    Table: owner’s collection.
    Host chairs ("Rembrandt Chair’’ #2881): Artistic Frame Co., 212/289-2100,
    Host-chair fabric ("Shaker’’/Cornflower #92509-14): Rogers & Goffigon Ltd., 212/888-3242, trade only.
    Dining chairs (#FC66): Langham Inc., 212/759-1212, trade only.
    Striped chair-back fabric ("Sloane Taffeta Stripe’’/Tile #60620): F. Schumacher & Co.,, trade only.
    Chandelier (custom): S&L Designs, 214/742-6417,, trade only.
    Wall covering ("Grasscloth III’’/Straw #20002-10): Donghia Furniture/Textiles Ltd., 914/662-2377, trade only.
    Drapery (cream linen): Chris Stone Inc., 323/583-9957,, trade only.
    Drapery trim ("Shaker’’/Cornflower #92509-14): Rogers & Goffigon Ltd., 212/888-3242, trade only.
    Drop-leaf table; ladderback chair; triptych (by J. Chadwell Tennant): owner’s collection.

  • Bruce Buck

    This triptych is the inspiration for the sun, water, and sky palette in the dining room.

  • Bruce Buck

    The kitchen once had all the charm of the set of The Honeymooners, laughs Lance. Old green linoleum has been replaced by walnut floors accented by marble counters.

    Bar stools (Private Label Collection by Mariette Himes Gomez): Gomez Assoc., 877/466-7467,
    Seat cushions (#6054, linen tweed): Sunbrella,
    Paint (white): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
    Pendant lights ("Holophane Pendant’’): Ann-Morris Antiques Inc., 212/755-3308, trade only.

  • Bruce Buck

    The newly added library gives Lance a quiet place to work, and its shelves give Tracy space for cherished collections, including a a shadowbox by Anthony Antine called A Gentleman’s Club.

    Center table; chairs; bell-jar pendant: owner’s collection.
    Stool cushion fabric: Ralph Lauren Home, 888/475-7674,
    Picture lights: Nessen Lighting, 914/698-7799,

  • Bruce Buck

    Black lacquered walls set off the crisp white woodwork in the Ishams’ family room. Horizontal stripes add a fresh twist to draperies.

    Area rug: ABC Carpet & Home, 212/473-3000.
    Kilim cocktail table: George Smith, 212/226-4747,
    Paint (black); trim paint ("Brilliant White’’): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
    Drapery and sofa fabric ("Dallas Sailcloth’’/White #8480): Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996,, trade only.
    Drapery trim (black tape): Martin Albert Interiors, 212/673-8000.
    Sofa ("Graham Sofa’’ #208-01): Ralph Lauren Home, 888/475-7674.
    Club chair: owner’s collection.
    Chair fabric ("Cartouche Plain’’ #1341/02): Osborne & Little, 212/751-3333, trade only.
    Rug ("Pin Dot’’/Black, Beige in wool): ABC Carpet & Home, 212/473-3000.
    Striped pillows ("Zina’’/Black, Off-White #HF-1001-E): Hinson & Co., 212/688-5538, trade only.
    Solid-color pillows ("Stitch’’/Jet #7218-901, by Twill Textiles): Holland & Sherry, 212/355-6241, trade only.
    Twist-leg table: owner’s collection.
    Sofa table: owner’s collection.

  • Bruce Buck

    Upstairs, a warren of five small rooms became three amply sized bedrooms thanks to the addition of the second-floor master suite. Ironically, this new space is now one of Tracy’s very favorite spots in the house. "I love my bedroom," she says. "My children think there is a real chance I could become a shut-in. In the summer, it feels like being in a tree house when you look out over the tops of the trees. In the winter, there are great views of the water."

    Bed; metallic chest; bench; club chair and ottoman; chest: owner’s collection.
    Bedding: Horchow, 877/944-9888,
    Club-chair and ottoman fabric ("Tender’’/Sky #DL1005-06): DeLany & Long Ltd., 203/532-0010,
    Sconces: Remains Lighting, 212/675-8051,
    Cashmere pillows: Angela Horton, 212/688-1641,
    Area rug: ("Screening Room’’/Ocean Liner #517-81810): Ralph Lauren Home, 888/475-7674.
    Wall covering (linen): Innovations, 800/227-8053,
    Drapery fabric ("Ticking Stripe’’/Seafoam #1008/22): Chelsea Editions, 212/758-0005,, trade only.
    Wall covering (paper-backed linen #3207 in Acorn): Innovations, 800/227-8053.
    Ceiling paint ("Decorator’s White’’): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.

  • Bruce Buck

    The deck—the stage for many parties, including Lance’s annual neighborhood barbecue—and the pool were built by Tracy’s parents.

  • Bruce Buck

    Clearly, Jim and Tracy are sold on the new look and livability of their renovated home. But the true test came a couple of Thanksgivings ago, when the entire clan converged to see and stay. "I was so nervous about my stepfather's reaction. He joined our family when I was young and loved the house, too," says Tracy. "But he came and pronounced that he loved everything we did. The heart of the place is still here, but it's now a more substantial home."