Tag Archives: home design

Renovating a Historic Cape Cod Home

At one of the charming historic homes on Cotuit’s famed “Loop,” the loose circle comprised of Main Street and Oceanview Avenue, we took what had been a little-used sitting room and created a space that works as both a family room and a guest suite for the homeowners’ frequent summer visitors. Along with bathroom and window updates, our work maintained the home’s history while incorporating tasteful modern touches.

cape cod custom builder

Like so many antique homes on Cape Cod, this one had been added onto several times over the years. The space we renovated is a wing that juts off the back of the home that is likely more than a century old.

cape cod home renovation

cape cod builders

Working within the existing footprint of the space, we gutted it in its entirety, with the exception of a wood-burning fireplace. The inner workings of the fireplace – which we had restored – remained, as did its brick façade. We created a new, custom-milled mantle and surround with a clean, simple design that is period appropriate to the home.

cape cod home builder

After gutting the space, we left the ceiling open. While the once-low ceiling made the room feel cramped, the new cathedral one lends an airy feel, which makes the space feel larger, as does the neutral palette of light gray and white. The flooring, a ceramic tile that resembles white-washed wood flooring, adds to the open feel and is a durable choice for this summer beach home.

cape cod home builders

custom building cape cod

At the end of the wing, we added an array of floor-to-ceiling windows with a sliding door. The windows flood the room with natural light and maximize the view of the pastoral, private backyard. A small deck just outside the sliding door is just large enough for a pair of Adirondack chairs, creating a peaceful space for a slow summer evening.

cape cod homes

An additional entrance opens onto an adjacent stone terrace.

cape cod home design

custom builder cape cod

cape cod home renovation

Arranged around the fireplace, which is set in the middle of the room, is a pair of comfortable chairs. At the end of the space closest to the sliding door is a casual arrangement of wicker furniture. At the opposite end of the room is a sleeping alcove, with a bed tucked into the corner next to an additional window.

cape cod home design

cape cod renovation

cape cod home builder

A full bathroom, with a soaking tub and shower, opens off of the sleeping area. We installed a durable porcelain floor with a classic wood appearance, in keeping with the traditional look of the home. A period-appropriate lantern fixture and sconce mirror lighting lend a sense of history as well.

cape cod custom builder

Finally, the home’s windows needed updating. Combining modern hardware and a traditional aesthetic, we installed historically correct 6-over-6 panes with a true mullion. Best of both worlds!

Do you own a historic home on the Cape that could use some updates? Our expert team is ready to make your vision a reality. Contact us today for more information.

Making the Case for Millwork

If you think ornamental millwork is only for mega-mansions, you need to think again. Adding or upgrading woodwork to your Cape Cod home can be a surprisingly inexpensive way to bring the look of any room to the next level.

Beyond Basic

cape cod builder

If your home has basic, or “builder grade,” baseboard trim — a simple 1″ x 4″ board that wraps around a room — replacing it with something more ornate, such as in the photo above, is the perfect starting point to your trimwork transformation. In some cases, we can even modify what you already have by simply adding strips of trim above and below. A coat of paint finishes the look.

Corner blocks, an ornamental square of wood set at the corners of window trim (below) are another easy way to upgrade existing woodwork. Readily available in a variety of styles, corner blocks can be added to most windows.

cape cod custom building

Wall Treatments

cape cod builder

Most wood wall treatments are some kind of tongue-and-groove paneling: pieces of wood that are milled to allow them to lock together. In the top left in the photo above, from one of our projects, we laid the paneling vertically and finished it at the top with trim. Beadboard, which adds a classic coastal look, is one of the most prevalent wall treatment choices on Cape Cod. Batten board works well in both historic and contemporary homes. Because it can be created by simply affixing strips of wood to any wall, and then painting everything with satin or high-gloss paint, batten board is often one of the least expensive wall treatment options. Shiplap, a humble wall treatment that was once used primarily in the South, has migrated north due to the “Chip & Joanna Factor.” In the bedroom pictured below, we painted classic knotty pine paneling white, a more modern approach for this Cape staple.

cape cod building

Stunning Staircases

cape cod home builder

If your home has a staircase that’s fairly visible, use woodwork to make it shine. In the home above, one of our custom-built homes in Osterville, we went with transitional-style elements — not too modern and not too vintage — to create a wow factor. Tongue-in-groove paneling lines the wall beneath the stairs, hand-turned balustrades add texture, and the banister is stained in a deep hue to add contrast. The newel post is simple yet eye-catching. With an open area at the top of the stairs, we opted to continue the railing and balustrades to the second level.

Below is a custom lighthouse newel post we had created for one of our remodeling projects.

cape cod home builders

Support Columns

custom builder cape cod

Even with the steel-beam construction techniques used today, interior support columns can still be needed. When remodeling an older home, removing existing columns tends to be costly and time-consuming. Woodwork can transform a utilitarian support column from eyesore to statement maker.

There are many column “wraps” available today. These are essentially kits, of either wood or plaster elements, or a combination of the two, which wrap around a column (on left in above photo). They’re attractive and a great value. In the photo on the right, one of our historic renovation projects, we custom-made columns to replicate existing ones.

Rethinking the Fireplace

millwork home ideas

If your fireplace is no longer the focal point of the room, it’s time for an upgrade. All of the above photos are from our historic renovation projects. We left the stonework surrounding the firebox (tile in the upper left) in place, and gave the surfaces a thorough cleaning. We then replaced the mantel and the fireplace surround — the vertical woodwork on either side — with new, custom-milled woodwork. The look is period appropriate, yet doesn’t look dated. In the upper left photo we also added an applique in the shape of a scallop.

The photo on the right was part of a larger remodeling project. In addition to updating the fireplace, we added a coffered ceiling: ornamental beams laid out in a grid pattern.

Built-In Cabinetry & Shelving

cape cod builder

The right-hand photo above is of a laundry room where we added custom cabinetry and drawers, and a mahogany countertop.

Ready to make some millwork upgrades? Please contact us to get started.

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?

home trends 2019master suite renovation ideas

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!

cape cod builder

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.

custom home remodeling

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.

cape cod custom remodelcape cod builder

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.