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HOMES


Sea Change
By Terry Ward Libby

After years in Ohio, Susan Jones finds comfort and joy in her
East Harwich home

From the outside, Susan Jones’ East Harwich home presents a distinctly contemporary face to the world. It
was constructed in the late 1980s, is a neutral taupe in color, has a pronounced rectilinear exterior design and a steeply angled roof with multiple skylights. Step inside, however, and you see that Jones has used the modern style of the home, its plain, gallery-like interior, as a blank canvas. The place is decorated throughout with the elegant antique furniture and many other artful objects that Jones has collected for years, everything from weighty, ornate wood furnishings to rare pieces of china and delicate blown glass.

Jones has summered in Massachusetts all her life. Her parents, Margaret and Dick Jones, live in nearby Chatham. Five years ago, after what Jones describes as “a difficult divorce,” she decided to move to the Cape from her long-time home city of Cincinnati. At the time, her three children were young teenagers. The move, along with the renovation and expansion of her East Harwich house, she says, “has been a very healing experience.”

“This is a magical place,” says Jones. “We are just minutes from the water here, and being so near the ocean has been marvelous for all of us.” It’s quite a contrast, she says, from their many years in Ohio.
She especially enjoys the “small town quality of life” on Cape Cod.

“When people think of the Midwest, she says, “they think of vast rural landscapes, but in reality, most Midwesterners live in big, modern cities like Cincinnati.” The amenities of city life can be great, but every day, Jones says, she is mindful of the quieter rhythms and gentler pace of life on the Cape.

Her children – Kate, Alex and Charlie – have worked at summer jobs on the Cape and, when they return, they often run into old friends. It’s that kind of connection to community that Susan has worked to strengthen in her new home.

Many of her antiques were purchased with what she calls her “quilt money.” For many years, Jones and her mother were partners in an antique quilt dealership. They were regular participants in the Nantucket Historical Association’s annual antiques show, which is held every August. Her favorite quilts are those done in appliqué style, and several of these can be found on her sofas and beds. As a dealer, she specialized in popular “indigo quilts” with large patterns in blue and white, made in the mid-to-late 1800s.

In the living room, set dramatically in the alcove of a bay window, is a large sideboard done in Jacobean style, popular with early settlers on Cape Cod, some of whom built furniture to mimic the look of the hefty furnishings found in seventeenth-century manor houses in England. For this reason, it is sometimes called “Pilgrim” furniture. The sideboard is a classic example of Jacobean style, with its heavy contours, deeply carved ornamentation and bulbous legs and feet.

Atop the sideboard are several pieces of cut crystal and an antique silver tea service. Another antique side table is topped with a stunning bowl made of English cranberry glass with an applied floral motif in amber glass. An Oriental rug pulls the room together and lends additional formality. When Jones’ big Wheaten terrior, Grady, dozes on the cozy ottoman in front of the fireplace, he completes the picture of refined, yet relaxed, country living that the room evokes.

Also in the living room is a pair of still-life paintings done on silk fabric, displayed in gilt frames. They are particularly prized by Jones and depict delicate blue china bowls heaped with ripe lemons. She also collects original paintings and pastels done by Cape Cod artists. Among her favorites are Phill and Merylle-Lee Thompson and Douglas Flackman, a noted painter of Nantucket scenes.

Beyond the living room is the recently completed addition to the house, designed by Jones’ father and built by Colfax Custom Construction of North Chatham. Her son Alex, Jones says, helped with its construction. The addition includes a formal dining area, a kitchen and a master bedroom with en suite bath.

The spacious, open kitchen offers state-of-the-art equipment, yet Jones’ choices for fixtures and finishes blend perfectly with the antique flavor of her overall décor. Her cabinetry, for example, is made of solid wood in rich brown tones, and the cupboards are topped with decorative crown moldings in a classic egg-and-dart design. In contrast, the brushed-nickel cabinetry hardware has a sleek, modern look that works well with the stainless steel appliances, with just a touch of antique style to soften more contemporary elements.

The centerpiece of the dining room is a dramatic table and matching chairs that originally belonged to Jones’ grandparents. The rare set is hand-carved from solid walnut and is also Jacobean in style. For seating at the nearby kitchen island, Susan found tall bar stools with bold, wooden frames that match the Jacobean scale of the dining set.

Upstairs there is a small, inviting loft, which overlooks the living room and functions as a reading nook. The space is lined with bookshelves and furnished with an antique rocker.

On the ground level and on the second floor, there are roomy bedrooms for each of the children, who often bring friends to the Cape for extended stays. Multiple points of entry to all levels of the house allow everyone to reach their private rooms without disturbing others, a much appreciated feature of the new design, Jones says.

The bedrooms are decorated to maximize a feeling of coziness. Each bed is draped in one of Jones’ colorful appliqué quilts. The fanciful antique iron twin beds in daughter Kate’s room are the same ones her mother had as a girl. Large, newly renovated bathrooms offer dual vanities with whimsical, oversized wall mirrors above. One bath is done in shades of sea green; the other is done in bright white and beachy sand tones.

On the exterior, a new ground level patio features an outdoor shower and stereo system. Also part of the new addition is a large, elevated deck, which opens from the second floor dining area and offers a sweeping look at the surrounding woods and the cranberry bog that lies just beyond the property. Jones takes particular pleasure in the view, which is also framed by her kitchen window.

“In season,” she says, “they fill the bog with water, so, there’s my water view.” Nothing, she says, could be more emblematic of her new life in New England, with friends nearby and children eager to visit her in a house filled with a beloved collection of items steeped in family memories.

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