Real Estate: My parent’s house on Cape Cod

As I’ve written before, I’ve spent the last couple of months getting my parent’s house ready to put on the market. It’s a bitter sweet experience because while it does signify that they really are gone, I am so proud of the beautiful home that they created – truly created – themselves. When they bought it thirty years ago, it was a depressing, dated looking place – even though it was only five years old. My Dad wanted a big project and he sure got it!

This was sort of drab and depressing back in 1986 when they took this photo. I took the top photo a few weeks ago to show off the gorgeous cherry tree in its full glory as I knew the professional photographer wouldn’t be here in time to capture it. As you’ll see in the second shot, the cherry tree wasn’t even there. My parents planted it themselves and my Mom would look out at how huge it was remembering that they’d brought it home in the back of their station wagon. It’s hard to tell, but I’m pretty sure that scraggly sad looking thing in the law is not the cherry tree (wrong spot).

My realtor, Beverly Comeau of Jack Conway here in Sandwich, brought in a company called Planomatic who shoots the property, creates a floor plan and creates an interactive “vision” of the house.

They published 22 photos and they rotate in and out on the page. You can see the one for my parent’s house here.

When the floor plan is clicked, it brings up a larger version and you can select different views within each room. A great way to get a sense of how a house flows together.

One of the reasons I selected the realtor that I did was because she said she’d be using a professional photographer and it really makes such a huge difference! I’m always shocked at the crappy real estate photos that are so prevalent even on luxury properties. I have done a lot of work getting things looking great for the listing and the team that came to shoot the space also made some little tweaks here and there. Always good to have another set of eyeballs.

So, I wanted to share the photos and brag a bit about all the personal touches and family memories they represent. These are of course the family room looking in to the kitchen. (stay tuned for the original kitchen photos – yuck!). My Dad made the grandfather clock and my Aunt and Uncle painted the clock face (he did the hand lettering and numbers, she everything else). I made the draperies for them a few years ago.

The big leather wing chair was my Dad’s chair. It has always been next to the sofa, back to the table for conversation. But they moved it away from the center of the room and while it’s not good for conversation or even tv watching, it sure opened up the space!

Ok, so, the kitchen.


Horrifying, no? My mother must have been ill having to use this kitchen until they replaced it. She hated orange and the laminate faux wood cabinets were just too awful. When my Dad built the new kitchen (which he did by himself), he thriftily kept some of the cabinets and counters to be used for storage in the garage and basement.


Parent's House
Parent's House

My Dad bought the stock cabinets raw and finished them all himself and then installed them. He also planned and layed the tile countertops, and installed the beams on the family room ceiling. The lantern is actually an oil lamp, which they thought would be useful in a power outage except that it turned the ceiling black, so that was that. The bin at the end of the counter is for trash. Dad probably made that from a kit in the 1970’s.

Parent's House kitchen

Just to see the same view as above. The door to the dining room was framed in and there is a small pair of doors that open into the dining room to separate the two rooms. (you can’t see them in this photo).


I’ve shared the dining room before when Michael J. Lee shot it for my holiday issue of ::Surroundings:: magazine.

Parent's House

The rug is antique and was my grandparents. My Dad papered the walls with this Schumacher (we believe) paper. He and Mom spent a year looking for the right shade of blue fabric for the window treatments. These real estate photos are a tad washed out and they are a beautiful shade of blue/green. Apparently the sales people kept suggesting off white since they couldn’t find the blue, but they stuck to their guns and finally found it. That treatment has been there for twenty years at least and still looks perfect in person. It’s pretty amazing. The furniture was bought with some of their wedding money sixty years ago. Every Sunday dinner and family holiday was spent around this table for my entire life. My Mom was a great cook so there have been a lot of great wines and crumbs spilled on this table, not to mention all the wonderful family memories.

Parent's House dining room

The living room. They bought the wing chair and cut velvet Hickory Chair camelback sofa in the early 1970’s through a department store when we lived in New Jersey. They’ve both held up amazingly well. The antique desk dates to the 18th century, though the base is a replacement. My Dad refinished it with his Dad.

Parent's House living room

The stereo cabinet above is the one I am going to turn into a bar cabinet. I’ve removed all the “guts” and will add a couple of shelves and a glass piece on top. I’m keeping the side table for use as a bed side table as well as the one below next to the sofa. The crystal lamps are new.

Parent's House living room

Bedrooms – not much to say. Master is above. Though the green bedroom below originally had pink flowered wallpaper and a rust rug. Pink and rust – great combination! My Dad painted it white with pale green trim for me when they moved here. They bought this bedroom set for me when I was six – it was used as the guest room when needed so I got a nice set. After my Dad had a stroke in 2000, we had to move his office down from the upstairs so the room got a makeover. I had them paint it a Ben Moore Sherwood Green  and repaint the trim a nice gloss white. There were plaid valances on the windows – very masculine. It’s since been turned back into a pretty bedroom.

Parent's House green bedroom with canopy

The backyard has a cute shed (Dad made the cupola) and garden which used to be really spectacular when my Mom could keep up with it – she was a wonderful gardener, a trait I did not inherit. They bought the wrought iron dining set in the 1960’s. My Dad would strip and repaint it every few years to keep it looking great.

Parent's House
So, I did a lot of cleaning things out – all stuff one needs to do when moving – and it paid off greatly for the photos and for showings.
If you’re planning on selling your house – do not skimp on the clean up and clean out. My parents were great about not being hoarders and I still filled a 16′ box truck with junky furniture and stuff from the attic, basement and backs of closets. You are marketing a product and as annoying as it can be at times to pare down and live neat, it’s no longer your house – it’s a product on the shelf with lots of competition. Finally, make sure to select a realtor who cares about how your place is being marketed. It makes all the difference!

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