The wooden swan that sits on the family room hearth is a fitting symbol for the transformation that took place in and around this house, which at one time seemed a ragamuffin among smartly dressed cottages that line the narrow streets of this picturesque hamlet. Former owners enclosed the breezeway between the main house and its garage to give themselves a family room, a thrifty, yet all too common, accommodation in a Cape Cod-style house.

When asked by the new owners to re-imagine the humdrum family room, I played against type by replacing the breezeway section with a street-facing gabled room that effectively gave the house its distinctive sawtooth profile on the outside. A generous coat of whitewash unified a mishmash of siding materials while making certain that the house fit in with its predominantly white-painted neighbors. A distinctive red front door and an unexpected pink chair at the side door punctuate the white on white scheme while underpinning the palette for newly-dug flower beds chosen by the homeowners with my help.

Inside, a cathedral ceiling made way for stacked windows on the gable ends that provide views through the house to the garden out back. The underside of the roof decking is exposed and horizontal beams suspend track lighting while maintaining what would have been the plane of a conventional flat ceiling. Subtle asymmetry in the floor plan offered an opportunity for a shallow bay with bookshelves and coat closet; the bay was carved away to create an alcove for the redressed fireplace and its iconic swan.