Tag Archives: Cape Cod custom builder

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.

cape cod kitchen design

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.

Introducing Kitchen and Bath Designer Stephen Ryan

Say hello to our new collaborator, Stephen Ryan!

Stephen is a kitchen and bath designer with more than 15 years of experience. For more than ten years, he was a designer at Main Street at Botello’s in Mashpee. He also spent several years designing at Marine Home Center on Nantucket.

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While the team at C.J. Riley Builder, Inc. will expertly construct the bones of your new or updated kitchen or bath, electrical and plumbing work is typically subbed out to other contractors. Similarly, the look and feel of your kitchen or bath should be handled by a designer, who works with you to design your space and choose color schemes, tile, cabinetry and pulls, appliances, lighting… everything that will make the space uniquely yours.

While we’ve handled countless kitchen renovations in our nearly 25 years in business, they were typically done in tandem with a kitchen showroom. This new collaboration allows our clients to work with just one company throughout the process, eliminating the hassle that can come with two businesses working on one custom project.

“We’ve created a one-stop-shopping experience for our clients,” says C.J. of the collaboration. “There is no longer a need to work with an additional designer or home center.”

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Working with C.J. Riley means working with an expert team ready to make your custom building vision a reality. Whether you’re building a new home or just looking for a modern update on a more traditional space, we’re here to make it happen. And with Stephen collaborating on your kitchen or bath project, we can move seamlessly from the build to the design phase, allowing you to customize your space (and use it!) much sooner.

Ready to get started? Please contact us with any questions or to arrange a consultation.

Need More Space? Consider a Custom-Designed Addition

You’ve got a new baby on the way and not enough bedrooms. The kids are now in their teens and you could use a den for them to retreat with their friends. Maybe your elderly parents are moving in or you’ve decided to start a home-based business. Or perhaps you’re at the other end of the spectrum, retired and weary of traipsing up and down a flight of stairs and wish you had a first-floor master suite.

The bottom line is that you need more space, and moving in this tight and expensive Cape Cod real estate market is simply not a realistic option.

What to do? The answer could be a custom-designed addition that will suit your needs while increasing the value of your home.

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Additions can be attached to the back of the house, especially family rooms, while others, such as an extra bedroom, an in-law apartment or a home office, might be built over the garage or sprout from the side of the structure. A rear addition connects the home to the backyard, and allows you to utilize different materials. For example, rather than matching existing brick, you might choose less costly wood. That extra room built over the garage provides privacy, while a second-story addition to a ranch can double your living space.

It’s important to keep the addition in scale with the original structure so as to not overwhelm it, although you could also use it to make a statement.

Adding a den is extremely popular with growing families. It can also be a terrific investment. Even better, you can transform an under-utilized space, such as a basement or an attic, into a comfortable, cozy retreat for watching TV, listening to music, reading, playing games or just spending time together chatting. You could also build a new wing off the side of the house, over the garage or even detached from the main structure.

cape cod additions

There was a time when dens were small rooms, usually with built-in bookcases and paneled in wood. But times have changed. Today, dens are often expansive spaces, with hardwood floors, fireplaces, open-beam rafters and brightly painted walls.

In-law apartments have become increasingly popular in recent years as aging parents look to be closer to their children and grandchildren. A separate space, with a modest kitchen, sitting area, bedroom and bath, can also help ease a financial crunch. But it’s important, for everyone’s sanity, that there be a clear separation from the main living quarters.

The same be said when adding a home office. Working from home is a great perk, but you want to feel like you’re in a different space and not bumping up against everyone else living in the home, which can be intrusive to the entire family. Adding a home office that is functional and comfortable can make all the difference. Embrace natural light and avoid designing your home office into yet another cold, corporate cubicle. If you have enough room, add a “comfort zone,” with a comfy chair, a small fridge and a coffee maker for taking breaks.

Retirees aging in place are not uncommon on Cape Cod, so it’s hardly surprising that many people are electing to add first-floor master suites to their home. When planning this addition, consider privacy, storage, exits and entries, the view and the noise factor.

cape cod custom additions

If the addition will be built close to neighbors, you’ll want to think about the orientation of windows and the use of skylights to bring natural light into the space, along with what kind of closets, shelving and cabinets will best suit your needs. Don’t forget to take into account outside noise, which can be more of a factor on the first floor. Finally, will the addition be a “room with a view” overlooking gardens, a wooded area or the waterfront?

Clearly, the options are endless when deciding on a custom-built addition to your home. But whatever you choose, your dream of a bigger home can become a reality, and you’ll never have to think about renting a moving van.

6 Signs Your Shingles Need Replacing

When it comes to your Cape Cod home, we at C.J. Riley Builder consider preventative maintenance just as important as cosmetic projects. One maintenance project that can also give your exterior a face-lift is replacing your home’s roof and siding. If your siding and roof shingles are looking worn, they may need to be replaced. Don’t wait until a major problem, like a leaking roof, creates an emergency: keep an eye out for these signs that your home is due for new shingles.

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Curling and Cracking

If cracks are beginning to show in your siding, or the siding is curling, it needs replacing. Keep in mind that installing new siding in four-inch rows, often referred to as a “Nantucket Course,” rather than the traditional five-inch, can help prevent this kind of curling in the future.

Bald Spots

Take a close look at your roofing shingles: if you see “bald spots” where granules are missing, this is indicative of shingle breakdown. In addition, if you notice granules washing off your shingles during heavy rains, this is another sign that your roof is at the end of its lifespan.

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Unfortunately, mold loves shingles, especially the cedar shingles that are so popular on Cape Cod. Over time, mold will consume ingredients found in shingles, leading to leaks. If your shingles have a blackened look to them, mold is probably the culprit. Consider replacing your painted shingles with “dipped” alternatives to keep them looking fresh and save yourself the job of repainting in the future.


Lichen also loves shingles. If your roof is covered in lichen, it’s time to replace. The same goes for moss growth, which can cause big problems if left unchecked. If ignored, moss can thicken until it crowds out and warps your shingles, at which point you’ll need to hastily replace them.


This one may be obvious, but heavy rains wear away at roof shingles over time, and if you experience a leak, it’s definitely time for a roof upgrade. At first, your roof may leak only during heavy rain and wind, but it will only weaken from there, and that can lead to much more water damage.

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Finally, if you have an older home, your shingles are working on borrowed time. If your roof, for example, is 20 years old or more, it was likely built with shingles that have limited durability compared to modern alternatives. In recent years, architectural shingles have become the industry standard. These shingles are traditionally constructed with a fiberglass base, ceramic-coated granules, and water-resistant asphalt. Also called dimensional or laminated shingles, these newer alternatives combine a sleek look with a longer lifespan for your roof.

Replacing your shingles can transform your home, and at C.J. Riley Builder, our experienced team is always ready to upgrade your space with expert care.

All photos are from our projects.

Minor Upgrades, Maximum Impact

Updating your Cape Cod home doesn’t necessarily require a huge, floor-to-ceiling renovation. The team at C.J. Riley Builder can make minor upgrades to your home that pack a serious punch, taking your space from passé to perfectly polished. If you’re looking to make a big impact with a not-so-big project, these are just a few of the updates our expert team can tackle that can transform your home.

Fireplace Renovation

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As the centerpiece of your communal space, your fireplace is important. A dated surround and mantle can drag down the look of the entire room, while a new fireplace can revamp the space in no time, making your living room all the more inviting. In the above left project, we maintained a traditional, sleek look. In the above right, we combined hearty stone with modern white trim to provide eye-catching contrast.

Refinishing/Re-Staining Hardwood Floors

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Freshening the stain on your hardwood floors can brighten up any room and give it a more modern feel. A current on-trend look is striking, ebony-hued floors. But if that’s not your style, our team can refinish or re-stain your floors in a variety of options, including the rich finish pictured above.

Garage Door Refacing

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Minor exterior changes can revamp your home as well. The first thing your friends and family see when they arrive at your home is your garage, which is why refacing your garage doors makes a massive difference. We replaced these standard garage doors with stained wood alternatives to put a fresh face on this home. The rich wood really pops against the surrounding shingling and creates a more sophisticated look.

Outdoor Gas Light Fixtures

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Outdoor lighting details can add a more finished, Old-World look to your home. The authentic lanterns from these projects run off natural gas and produce real flames. Their warm light casts a soothing glow on cool summer evenings and chilly winter nights alike.

Powder Room Shower

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Creating an additional full bath curbs morning mayhem as your family races to get out the door. It also increases your home’s value exponentially. If you’re finding your powder room lacking, consider adding a shower to create a full bath. In these bathrooms, we added space-efficient walk-in showers. The glass doors to make the space feel open and lighten the visual footprint.

At C.J. Riley Builder, our experienced team is ready to make thoughtful upgrades to your home with expert care.

Our Small Jobs Division

As a Cape Cod custom builder, we know Cape homeowners have projects both large and small that require expert care. While many builders will pass on smaller projects, we have an entire division devoted to making sure they’re done right.

At C.J. Riley Builder, our small jobs division is here to help you through every step of the smaller building projects required in your home. A few of the jobs we can take on for you:

Window Replacement

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Replacing your windows can completely transform your home while increasing its value. New windows can help you save on energy costs. And apart from the obvious visual upgrade, new windows are easier to use and clean. As in the above project, your new windows can be historically correct and seamlessly blend with the rest of your home, a relatively recent development in custom building.

New Deck/Deck Replacement

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New England summers are fleeting. Adding a deck to your home, or upgrading your existing outdoor space, is a perfect way to make the most of Cape Cod’s favorite season. In this project, we placed the deck at the same level as the door to blur the line between indoor and outdoor entertaining, and budgeted plenty of room for a tented seating area for those hot summer days.

Basement Finishing

cape cod renovation

Don’t let all that space go to waste! We can transform your basement into a welcoming home-away-from-home for summer guests, an activity room for the kids on rainy days, or a secluded man cave—it’s all up to you. C.J. recently upgraded his own basement, warming up the space with recessed lighting and cozy carpeting.

Hardware and Trim Replacement

It’s the little things. Replacing dated hardware in your home, like cabinet pulls and hinges, works wonders in updating a space. The same goes for replacing or refinishing your trimwork. You won’t believe the difference these seemingly small changes make.

Roofing and Siding

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In our seaside climate, it’s very important to keep your roofing and siding in good condition. When left untreated, cedar shingle siding is prone to rot. We can keep your roofing and siding updated and your mind at ease.

We understand the pride you take in your home, and we’re here to make your vision a reality, no matter the scale of your custom building project.

Considering a Bathroom Remodel? Look No Further

Building Cape Cod custom homes means working with homeowners of all ages and style preferences. A few key upgrades to a run-of-the-mill bathroom can do wonders for modernizing your home. And when it comes to bathroom remodeling, whether you’re improving on your first home or renovating before retirement, we can make your unique vision a reality.

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If you plan to make the Cape your forever home, you may want to incorporate aging-in-place considerations into your remodel plans. Even if that time is a long way off, installing a zero-threshold shower like this one from Home Stratosphere can provide peace of mind without compromising style.

bathroom design

If accessibility is required in your remodel, we can help. This handicap accessible bathroom, from one of our recent projects, features a spacious, zero-threshold shower that can be used seated or standing.


Once your golden years are taken care of, you can focus on creating spa-like serenity in your bathroom. We suggest a glass-encased shower for opening up the space and giving the everyday a truly luxurious feel. This corner glass shower from Houzz makes the most of the room’s square footage and still catches plenty of natural light.

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To add another elegant touch, consider a sleek floating vanity, like this one from HomeCrux. It, too, takes up less room than its traditional counterpart, if storage is a priority. Because it’s cantilevered into the wall, providing the floating illusion, the vanity has a smaller visual footprint. This vanity’s rich wood cabinetry and granite countertops give this bathroom a five-star look.

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Vessel sinks provide another unique spin on standard bathroom design. This eye-catching, curved rectangular piece from Kohler adds a contemporary look and distinctive shape to a traditional vanity.

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And no opulent bathroom is complete without a deep, jetted bathtub. This modern slipper tub seen on Houzz helps transform this bathroom into a personal spa.

If you’re ready to get started with a bathroom remodel, we’re here to help.