Fox Creek

Ipswich, MA

Built in 1917, this large house began life as a rambling, largely horizontal building with a ranch-like façade—an aspect that had been emphasized by previous renovations and additions. Its new owners wanted to improve the home’s curb appeal, functionality, and marsh views, all while honoring its history and local vernacular architecture.

The reimagined house primarily occupies the existing footprint, and its original structure remains intact. An additional wing contains a screened porch and master suite, and the roofline now features a gambrel shed dormer that provides verticality. A new stone foundation veneer breaks up the elevation’s wood-shake cladding and roots the house to the ground.

These changes work together to give the house its current shingle-style, Cape revival character. The charm of this understated, classically New England aesthetic continues inside, where the original pumpkin pine floors and the fireplaces in each room were preserved. The interiors were otherwise entirely transformed, however.

On the first floor, a central circulation spine and a newly open-plan kitchen and family room make the previously closed, cramped house feel spacious and free-flowing, with rooms that seamlessly lead from one to the next. Similarly, the lower level’s mudroom now connects to the ground-floor foyer,  primary entry point to the home for the family.

To accommodate the owners’ need for more sleeping space, several double-height first-floor spaces were divided to add bedrooms above. These large existing volumes hadn’t seemed appropriate to the scale or style of the hundred-year-old home. The new second-floor rooms feature dormers or cathedral ceilings created by opening them to former attic space.

The property now also includes a new barn-style structure that houses additional entertaining, recreation, and storage space. Taking its inspiration from agrarian structures erected by the Amish for generations, the post-and-beam building looks as if it dates back to the same period as the main house.

Although more than a hundred years old, this house and its surrounding property had not previously felt like a piece of local history. Now, however, they very much do. A carefully considered renovation—combining elements of preservation and innovation—rendered it both true to the past and ready to help its owners live as they want to live today.