Category Archives: Cape Cod Custom Builder

Spring Ahead With Small Projects

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. There’s still a bit of daylight when you get home from work. We “spring ahead” as we change the clocks in less than a month. Spring is coming, which means summer won’t be far behind. In preparation, consider some minor upgrades that will allow you to make the most of your summer fun.

Maximize Outdoor Living

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Imagine sipping your morning coffee on a new deck as the sun comes up, or enjoying dinner al fresco as it sets. Adding a deck, like the one above that we built, is easily done and surprisingly affordable.

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Already have a porch? Consider installing new flooring as we did at the home above.

As far as outdoor upgrades go, even an especially small yard has huge potential. Below, we added a terrace, with a copper spa, dual outdoor showers and storage, and privacy fencing: beautiful and space-efficient!

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Do you find yourself saying, “I don’t want to grill tonight,” because it means slogging back and forth to the kitchen too much? We can solve that problem by installing a simple shelf just outside a window, as we did below.

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And if you find yourself saying, “I don’t want to grill tonight,” because your freestanding, 10-year-old Weber just isn’t cutting it anymore, it’s time to consider an outdoor kitchen. This one, from one of our projects, includes a grill, refrigeration, storage, and prep space.

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Small Projects to Add to Summer Fun

Kids in and out from the pool all day. Guests wandering around in search of a bath when you’re entertaining outside. Tracking mud through the house when you’re working out in the garden.

If you don’t have a first-floor powder room, or you do, but it’s nowhere near your back door, adding a strategically located one is the solution to all of the above.

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We can often carve out space within your home to add a powder room, but if a small “bump-out” addition is needed, consider taking things a step further. By making the addition two stories, we can easily give you a second-story laundry room. Imagine not having to haul laundry up and down the stairs! Shown below is C.J.’s own laundry room addition, which includes dual washers and dryers as well as ample storage.

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Please contact us to get started on your own summer-fun small projects.

Say WHAT? Learning to Speak ‘Builder Lingo’

If you’ve ever watched Flip This House on A&E, you’ve probably noticed that builders speak their own language. When they talk about a “doghouse dormer” or a “header,” they’re not referencing canine housing or an Olympic dive.

Confused? Read on and we’ll break it down.


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In general, a dormer raises a portion of the roof in a home, creating added interior space. When a home has a steeply pitched roof, so common in New England, this is a cost-effective way of increasing space without raising the overall height of a structure, a crucial consideration in adhering to zoning laws. In the photo above, a home we built, two “partial dormers” were used. The smaller one, on the left, allowed added windows and floor space in the bedroom shown.

A “shed” or “full” dormer, shown below, runs nearly the full length of a home, greatly increasing the interior living space. A “doghouse” dormer (beneath) adds visual interest to the exterior and is a great way of adding a nook with a window seat to an upstairs room.

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Cabinetry: Custom, Semi-Custom, Stock

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In virtually every kitchen, whether in a new home or renovation, cabinetry is the priciest element. Custom cabinets are the most expensive and allow complete flexibility in style and size. “Stock” cabinets, those that are pre-made, offer the least flexibility. But as available options have increased in recent years, stock cabinets, like those in the kitchen we built shown above, can be a great way to trim costs.

The middle ground in cabinets is “semi-custom.” These are also pre-made and then delivered to a job site, but have many, many options available for style and finish. With the variation in size increments of semi-custom cabinets less than one inch, compared to three-inch variations in stock — which can lead to wasted space — semi-custom cabinets are the perfect middle-of-the-road option for most homes.

Roofing & Siding

cape cod custom homes

When it comes to roofing and siding, shingles and clapboard are the primary materials used for homes on Cape Cod. Each has its pros and cons.

  1. Cedar Shingle Siding | Cedar Shingle Roof: Pros – This is the quintessential Cape Cod look. The shingles will weather to a natural silver color. Cons – Although they will last for decades, salty sea air can cause rot and curling; they need to be power-washed every couple of years to get rid of mold.
  2. Dipped Cedar Shingle Siding | Cedar Shingle Roof: Pros – With “dipped” shingle siding, you can opt for natural or a color; they last longer than untreated cedar shingles and are not prone to mold. Cons – They are pricier than untreated shingles.
  3. Dipped Cedar Shingle Siding | Asphalt Shingle Roofing:Pros – Asphalt roofing shingles like these come in a variety of colors and are the least expensive roofing option. Cons – They can look “flat” on a home.
  4. Clapboard Siding | Architectural Shingle Roof:Pros – Clapboard siding adds a regal look and works beautifully for both antique homes and more contemporary styles; architectural roof shingles are also made of asphalt, but they add depth. They also last longer. Cons – Clapboard siding needs to be painted every few years.

Decorative Woodwork

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Decorative woodwork — or “millwork” — is just what it sounds like: purely for aesthetic value, rather than serving any structural purpose.

  1. Beadboard: The ultimate Cape Cod add-on, beadboard can be used in virtually any room for added texture and visual interest (though it can warp in full baths because of steam).
  2. Shiplap: Chip and Joanna Gaines created a nation-wide love of shiplap with their show Fixer Upper.Like beadboard, shiplap is lengths of wood joined together, but the pieces of wood are much wider, and shiplap is often installed horizontally rather than vertically.
  3. Chair Rail & Crown Molding: While chair rails, wood trim installed at waist height around the entire perimeter of a room, can serve a practical purpose — they were initially used only in dining rooms so that chairs wouldn’t ding the walls — they are now primarily ornamental and work in most rooms. Crown molding wraps around a room where the ceiling meets the walls. Both add a rich finishing touch to a space.
  4. Coffered Ceiling: Woodwork arranged in boxes on a ceiling, creating the look of a grid. Always an exquisite addition to a space, coffered ceilings can help delineate spaces within an open floor plan living area.

Please let us know if we can provide you with additional information, or if you would like to arrange a complimentary consultation.

2019 Spaces: Creating a Master Suite for Your Cape Cod Home

Have you resolved to make improvements to your Cape Cod home in 2019? Allow us to suggest beginning the transformation with your master bedroom. With the help of the expert team at C.J. Riley Builder, revamping this oh-so-important space can prove far less pricey and disruptive than you may fear. To kick off the new year, we can create a stunning new space in your home, complete with several benefits:


While some renovations are done primarily for your family’s enjoyment, kitchen and bath remodeling is a good investment, as is creating a master suite. Based on average resale value just one year after completing a master suite project, you can expect a nearly 75% ROI. Whether you plan to sell one day or just want to keep up with the market, a master bedroom overhaul will do you favors in the long run.


As a Cape Cod homeowner, you’re no stranger to overnight guests—the summer months can feel like a merry-go-round of visitors spending time on our gorgeous island. Turning your master bedroom into a master suite, with your own en suite bathroom, will earn you some precious, well-deserved privacy when you’ve got a full house. You’ll no longer need to emerge from your sanctuary in the early hours and wait your turn for a shower before a family outing. Doesn’t that sound better?

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In this home in Osterville, the en suite master bath isn’t especially large, yet it contains a sleek glass shower, dual vanity and his-and-hers sinks, an absolute must for many couples. Incorporating this space creates more convenience for the homeowners and promises a smoother transition when guests come to stay.


The best benefit of a master suite project? More room!

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In the photo above, from the same Osterville build, the master bedroom functions as a spacious escape. Doors leading to the private terrace open up the room and flood the uncluttered space with natural light.

Overwhelmed by the thought of a big renovation project? Not to worry. A total home overhaul isn’t necessary if you want more out of your master bedroom. We can re-purpose existing space, such as removing a wall between a bedroom and an adjoining room (like an outdated playroom or little-used dining area). Alternatively, we can build a bump-out addition to accommodate an en-suite bath, luxurious walk-in closet, or a “bonus” space that can be used as an office or to showcase some striking furniture, as in the photo below. You deserve it.

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Aging in Place

If Cape Cod is your forever home, it’s never too early to incorporate some aging-in-place renovations to prepare for the future. One way to accomplish this is building or relocating a master suite to the first floor of your home.

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Another consideration is installing a zero-threshold, accessible shower in your master bathroom, as we did in the custom renovation project pictured above. Improved accessibility without sacrificing space or style is what we’re all about.

A custom-designed and built master suite can make your whole home feel brand new. Get in touch with the team at C.J. Riley today to get started on your Cape Cod home’s 2019 transformation.

New Year, New Style: Homebuilding Trends for 2019

With 2018 winding to a close, now is the time to plan your Cape Cod home’s 2019 transformation. Resolutions don’t have to revolve around dieting or bad habits—why not focus on revamping your space instead? With the current tight real estate market, renovating a Cape Cod home is more appealing than ever. If you’re ready for something new and fresh, take a look at these trends the experts are predicting will be big in the coming year.

Unique Fixtures

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Source: Decor Aid

The fixtures in your home in 2019 should tell a story. Artisanal, local pieces are going to be big. Whether it’s a bold lighting design or sleek chrome cabinet pulls, the new year is all about sustainable picks that work as grounding elements in your home.

Metallic Accents

According to Décor Aid, copper and brass are the metals to watch in 2019, but metallic in general is having a moment. Kitchens and bathrooms will both benefit from an eye-catching touch of metal in what can often be an otherwise-bland landscape. Elle Décor, too, advocates for mixing metal accents in the upcoming year. It’s never a bad idea to add some thoughtful shine to your surroundings.

Bold Geometry

2019 home trends

Source: Decor Aid

Make a strong statement next year with bold geometric patterns. The tile trend isn’t going anywhere, so make it your own with some shapely inspiration. Whether it’s revamping your bathroom flooring or reinventing your beloved kitchen backsplash, adding some dimension will transform your tile game.

Rustic Sinks

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Source: Decor Aid

Could your space use a homier, farmhouse feel? Look no further than bucket sinks. These rustic pieces stand out and enhance comfort, often while saving you space (especially if you do away with a bulky bathroom sink/cabinet combo). As for the sink’s look, Gates Interior Design says the more intricate and metallic, the better.


Black is Back

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Source: Elle Decor

Okay, black never truly left, but if you prefer sleek and spa-like over farmhouse rustic, there’s no need to worry. Luxurious black bathroom fixtures are making a comeback, according to Elle Décor. Embrace the dark to give this room a sophisticated, elevated vibe. Same goes for the kitchen, where black fixtures will lend a sharp contrast to the very light, very white trends of the past few years.

Light Wood Flooring

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Source: Elle Decor

Wood flooring will be lightening up in 2019. Avoiding darker wood tones will help to make your rooms more airy, open and bright without sacrificing coziness. Think birch, hickory, red oak and the like for your floors next year. And good news: lighter wood flooring is much kinder than its darker counterparts when it comes to showing dirt.

Warmed-Up Countertops

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Source: Elle Decor

Speaking of cozy, sterile, cold countertops are officially out. In the new year, countertop tones will be going warmer and darker, giving kitchens a more inviting, friendly feel. Whether you’re sticking to old favorite polished granite, branching out with laminate or wood, or mixing it up with a combination of materials, warm, rich tones are the predicted MVP next year.

Colorful Appliances

It looks like it’s finally time to bid farewell to stainless steel. Colorful fridges with rich finishes are stealing the show in 2019. The same goes for stoves. Appliances no longer need to be exclusively sleek and shiny. A pop of color and warmth is just what many kitchens need.

Goodbye, Upper Cabinets

Also according to Gates Interior Design, the upper cabinet is a thing of the past. Minimalism is in, and as a result, eye-level storage space is out. Let your countertops breathe, opt for simple shelving instead of overbearing cabinets, and lower the storage center of gravity in your kitchen. Feel like you can’t give up your precious cabinet space? Consider compensating for lost storage space with a built-in or butler’s pantry.

Open Kitchens

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Trends come and go, but you simply can’t go wrong with an open kitchen. You’ll never look back on a spacious, breathable floor plan and cringe the way you may have done with say, shag carpeting or avocado green. Spending time with family and/or actually being able to enjoy your guests’ company while cooking will never go out of style. Trust us on this one.

Aging in Place

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While you’re in renovation mode, if there’s a chance your current Cape house will be where you spend your golden years, it’s never too early to begin addressing aging-in-place concerns. Get ahead of the game now by opting for a zero-threshold shower, moving a master bedroom to the first floor, or installing some subtle grab bars and other aids.

The expert team at C.J. Riley Builder is ready to celebrate 2019 by updating your Cape Cod home. Get in touch today to get started with renovations for the new year!

Before and After Bliss: Home Renovation Inspiration

At C.J. Riley Builder, we love helping Cape Codders transform their homes. So when we’re not out literally renovating, we’re prowling the internet for before-and-after home renovation inspo. Check out one of our recent renovation projects, and a few online finds we love, below.

This kitchen renovation featured on was one for the books. The space was so cramped and dingy that even its well-meaning lighting fixture seemed obtrusive.

Opening up the space was the first step in the room’s transformation. Clean lines – the waterfall edge on the counter, streamlined cabinetry without handles – add a contemporary feel to the new kitchen. Love the on-trend blue accent cabinets, and the unexpected pops of black used in the pendant lights and stools.

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This kitchen transformation we found on is so satisfying. Even the high-end appliances (is that an Aga?!) couldn’t save the room from feeling dark and dated.

Although the size of the kitchen remains unchanged, a fresh palette of creamy hues lightens the look considerably. Open shelving used in lieu of upper cabinets make the space feel larger and add texture, as does the shiplap paneling.

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before and after kitchen

In yet another kitchen remodel before-and-after story, also on, what was 1970s ski-chalet style run amok is now all about timeless style.

The loft space above is now open to the kitchen, adding airy appeal. New windows and a nearly white-on-white palette make the formerly dingy room feel fresh. Touches of natural wood add rustic flair, perfect for a slope-side home.

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It isn’t just before-and-kitchen remodeling ideas that fire up our creative energies.

While this master bedroom, another find, was okay before, the after photo proves how much of a difference even small changes can make.

The odd cabinetry behind the sofa has been replaced with oversized windows. Hello, sunshine! With the swinging doors leading to the patio, which chew up a lot of floor space, swapped out for another window, there is now enough room for a sitting area. Shiplap paneling and woven blinds add dimension.

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Another example of small changes making a major difference is our own renovation of Designers Walk, an Osterville retail space that had seen better days.

The overall footprint remained unchanged, but with the tired carpet replaced with fresh hardwood flooring that we laid out in a chevron pattern, a soothing palette of white and gray, and dramatic hanging light fixtures, this “walk” is now worthy of its “designers” moniker.

before and after home

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Ready to write your own before and after story? We’re here to help. Get in touch today to discuss how our expert team can bring your vision to life.

Expand Your Living Space Without Breaking the Bank

Looking for a cost-effective way to add living space to your Cape Cod home? If you have an attic or a basement, consider yourself halfway there.

If you’ve outgrown your home but feel stuck due to the tight Cape Cod real estate market, the solution may lie beneath your feet…or over your head. Converting an unfinished basement or attic to an additional living space can be a smart move for homeowners who are feeling cramped.

According to this article on House Logic, finishing a basement or attic gives homeowners a high level of satisfaction. It also yields a decent ROI—53 %—which is an important consideration if you may be selling your home within the next 10 years.

Nail Down What You Need

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Where should you start when it comes to adding living space? Rather than simply saying “We need more room,” take the time to really understand what kind of space your home lacks. A home office? Sleeping quarters for summer visitors? A place for your tween children or grandchildren to call their own? This decision is crucial.

An Attic Renovation

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Is an attic renovation the right choice for your home?

The Pros: With the Cape’s damp weather, it can be a challenge to keep a basement feeling fresh. If you have the space in your attic, we’d suggest starting there. The attic tends to be quieter than a cellar, also a concern, especially for a home office or extra bedroom. Adding a bathroom to an attic is much easier than in a basement, as well.

The Cons:  A steeply pitched roof, such as in the photo above, can limit usable floor space, which makes built-ins a great idea. Maximizing the space under the eaves makes the center of the room feel wide open. Beware: attics can be hot in the summer months. Insulation with a high R factor is a must, as is air conditioning.

Bunk rooms, considered a must-have by any Cape Cod kid, work beautifully in renovated attics. And if your attic lacks natural light, sunshine is only a skylight away.  

Making a Basement Feel Homey

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Maybe you’ve decided a renovated basement is the way to go.

The Pros: If you have a full basement, it probably has far more available space than your attic, none of which is impeded by a sloping ceiling. A basement tends to feel more “connected” to the rest of the home as well, an important consideration if the finished room will be used by young children, or for entertaining.

The Cons: As we mentioned, basements on the Cape are damp. Solve the problem with wall insulation and a dehumidifier. They’re also dark. Add a cozy feel with sufficient lighting: inset ceiling lights, wall sconces and table lamps. A concrete floor feels cold, so adding wall-to-wall carpeting with thick padding beneath is crucial.

Rather than fighting a basement’s lack of natural light, embrace it by creating a media room. A sleek space for entertaining friends is also a great idea, as is incorporating a fireplace.

Don’t Forget About Storage

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Finally, don’t let your need for more living space overshadow your storage requirements. Your holiday decorations and keepsakes will need a place to live when your renovation is complete. Whether you’re finishing an attic or a basement, remember to carve out enough storage space.

Please contact us to learn more about finishing your attic or basement, or to arrange a complimentary consultation.

Cape Cod Home Watch: Keeping Your Home Safe in the Off-Season

With Independence Day behind us, summer will be over before we know it. (We know, we know; we’re sad, too.) Closing up your Cape house and heading back over the bridge can be stressful, but we offer a number of off-season property management services on Cape Cod that ease the Labor Day transition and promise peace of mind while you’re away from your summer dwelling.

Seasonal Closings

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When you’re ready to close up house for the fall and winter, our team will take care of draining pipes, storing and securing outdoor items, and making sure your home is ready to withstand whatever the unpredictable Cape Cod climate throws at it through May.

Storm Watch

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Remember the seemingly endless stream of storms this past March? We can help you brace for a possible repeat. When a nasty nor’easter is due, we’ll check on your home both before the storm hits and after it’s passed. If there’s any damage, we’ll send photos and make recommendations for repairs and, if you’d like, repair it as needed. By the time summer rolls around again, your home will be good as new.


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Who wants to arrive on Cape for Memorial Day Weekend and discover a problem that could have been solved long ago? A leaking pipe, an unwelcome pest, a malfunctioning appliance…the list goes one. We offer regular walk-throughs of your home to make sure all is well, especially after rough weather or a cold spell. Opt for ongoing walk-throughs on a regular basis, or call us as needed: you’re in the driver’s seat.

Visit Preparation

Planning to spend the holidays on Cape Cod? Or simply prone to making spontaneous weekend escapes? With our visit preparation services, your home will always be ready to welcome you back. From pulling out outdoor furniture to setting the thermostat for optimal coziness, we’re here to make sure your transition is seamless.

Seasonal Openings

Beautiful waterfront home in Osterville, MA

And when summer finally, mercifully returns, the C.J. Riley team can prep your home for the best time of year. No more worrying about turning the water back on, servicing the pool, or pulling the patio furniture out of time-out. We’ve got this. All you have to remember is the sunscreen.

Let our expert team take a load off your mind: contact us today to learn more about C.J Riley Builder’s seasonal services.

Making the Case for Marble

While some countertop and flooring materials burn red hot for a few years—or even decades—before fading into home-decor oblivion, none have shown the staying power of marble. Its first known use in architecture was in the Parthenon in 438 BC. Marble has been around that long.

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We remodeled the kitchen above, at a historic home in Osterville, several years ago. The marble countertops were a period-appropriate choice, but the overall look felt fresh and new, just as the owners wanted. It still looks fresh, doesn’t it?

Pros & Cons

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The pros of marble are many. The material has a classic beauty that contributes to its timeless appeal, plus it’s available in a bright white that can’t quite be achieved with soapstone or granite. The price is right, as well: common Carrara marble makes for one of the least expensive natural countertops. Marble is also widely available, from nearly any stone yard or fabricator.

On the other hand, marble can scratch easily, particularly when something acidic comes in contact with it for a long period of time. A slice of lemon laid down on a polished countertop overnight, for example, can leave a mark in the shape of the lemon slice, duller than the surface around it. Similarly, marble can also stain, with red wine and some fruits being common culprits.

See below for some inspiration featuring this traditional material.

A Classic Approach

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A marble countertop with an ogee edge paired with a backsplash in marble subway tile is such an ageless look.

New Takes on an Old Favorite

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Yes, marble has been used for nearly 2,500 years in building, but that doesn’t mean designers can’t come up with new ways to use the ancient material. In the photo above, from DecorPad, added depth and a clean edge give the island’s countertop a contemporary twist. The backsplash is slabs of marble, rather than tile, which adds to room’s clean look.

In both of the kitchens below, the designers have used a marble slab for a backsplash that runs all the way up the ceiling. Such a bold look!

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Wondering how marble can add to your home? Please contact us to arrange a complimentary consultation. The team at C.J. Riley Builder is here to turn your custom home vision into a reality.

On the Cape, a Guesthouse Can Transform Your Home

Considering adding a guesthouse to your Cape Cod home? We have good news for you. The Town of Barnstable recently eased regulations regarding ancillary dwellings, joining several towns on the Cape that have loosened restrictions or are considering doing so. Specifically, Barnstable has removed its year-round residency requirement for family accessory apartments, along with increasing the apartment size before a special zoning board permit is required.

With this increasing flexibility across the Cape, more homeowners are looking to build guesthouses. If you could use some extra space or income, consider how these additional dwellings can benefit your household.

First and foremost, a guesthouse provides much-needed elbow room and privacy for the summer guests that flock to your home each year. While we all love summer visitors, there is something to be said for enjoying a solo cup of coffee before an exciting day begins.

Guesthouses can also act as a space for your family should the need arise. Whether you have aging parents, students home from college, or older children in housing limbo, a guesthouse can provide peace of mind. If older parents may potentially move in, we can incorporate aging-in-place solutions, like a single-floor dwelling with a zero-threshold walk-in shower, to ease the transition. And if you expect children home from school to use the space, we may suggest building it farther from the main house for added privacy.

And let’s not forget the opportunity to generate income. Many Cape Cod homeowners use guesthouses as long-term rentals, or, more temporarily, as Airbnb listings during the tourist season.

If you’re trying to avoid paperwork headaches, note that regulatory issues tend to pop up when a guest dwelling includes a full kitchen, specifically defined as having a stove. Designing a kitchenette, with a fridge, sink, microwave, and cabinet space, is often the perfect workaround.

The team at C.J. Riley Builder, Inc. has designed several custom freestanding guesthouses, as well as creating guest suites in garages and carriage houses.

cape cod guesthouse

This suite above the garage provides ample privacy for guests without sacrificing yard space. A deck for sunbathing or evening cocktails makes for very happy visitors.

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This home’s carriage house offered the perfect opportunity for a roomy guest space, ideal for an in-law apartment or a place for boomerang children to crash.

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These homeowners opted for a spacious, freestanding guesthouse on their property. This two-floor dwelling with complete kitchen can easily accommodate even the most hectic of summer calendars.

With more than 20 years of experience, our expert team will carefully design the extra space you need to bring your Cape Cod home to the next level. We’re ready when you are.

Cape Cod Kitchen Remodeling: Benefits of a Kitchen Revamp

Considering a remodel in your Cape Cod kitchen? We’re not surprised. As the hub of most homes, the kitchen is all-important when it comes to home design. Remodeling, or even making a few key changes to your kitchen can completely freshen and transform your entire home. If you’ve been dreaming of an updated kitchen, consider these benefits as a sign to finally take the plunge:

Open Up

A kitchen remodel allows you to renegotiate your space and really open up your home. Many older kitchen layouts are rigid and create cramped, limiting spaces; opening up your kitchen floor plan will allow you far more room to cook and entertain. Adding a bar or island can help you incorporate more seating and accommodate more guests, and updated storage spaces will keep clutter at bay.

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Stay Trending

Remodeling your Cape Cod kitchen is also an opportunity to try out new design trends. Maybe you want to add a pop of color to your formerly grayscale kitchen, sneak in some sleek storage options, or incorporate bold chrome fixtures where there were once only meh cabinets. Granite countertops or modern lighting fixtures can dramatically modernize your kitchen as well.

cape cod kitchen design

Make Cooking Fun Again

If you’re not in love with your current kitchen, you probably aren’t eager to play chef. A kitchen renovation often includes updating appliances, which not only transforms the space but also reduces energy costs. With a sharp stainless steel fridge or a deluxe gas stove, you’ll find yourself tossing the takeout menus and creating gourmet meals for friends and family.

Increase Value

Whether you’re looking to sell or stay put, it never hurts to boost your home’s resale value, and updating your kitchen is a surefire way to do so. Making improvements to your home’s kitchen means you can recoup a good portion of your renovation budget if and when you do sell. Who can resist such a return on investment?

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If you’re ready for a Cape Cod kitchen remodel, look no further: our team has more than 25 years of experience bringing homeowner wish lists to life. C.J. Riley Builder is here to work with you on transforming your kitchen and breathing new life into your home.