and barn were on the verge of dilapidation,
but Cathy Kert saw nothing but potential. Kert, who was in the pretty Cape Cod village of
Pocasset visiting a friend that day in 2012, saw past the grime and the overgrown bushes. She
envisioned gardening on the verdant grounds and renovating the expansive barn. “It was so
precious,” she says, “and it seemed like such a neat opportunity. The property has a lot of pri-
vacy and is only two blocks from the beach.”
The house had been abandoned for three years. Inside, it
reeked of cigarette smoke, but Kert’s designer instincts told her
it had good bones.
At the time, Kert, her husband, Charles, and their four
children (now all living on their own) made their home in a rambling 4,000-square-foot house they had built in Nashua, New
Hampshire. She ran an interior design firm and a home furnishings shop, while Charles worked as a physician.
“I grew up on a farm, and my husband is from Los Ange-
les, near the beach,” she says. “This house seemed like the cul-
mination of both of our dreams: a farmhouse by the ocean.”
The couple purchased the house shortly after Kert’s first
visit, but it would be years before they could relocate full time.
“My kids couldn’t believe we were going to buy the house and
live in it, it was such a mess,” says Kert.
Making the house habitable took quite a bit of sweat
equity. “For two years, I would come down to the Cape and
work on the house for three days a week,” says Kert. “I scrubbed and washed walls, and painted
every room myself with a friend.”
Eventually, Kert hired architectural designer Deborah Dinco-Kendall, whose firm is in
nearby Falmouth, Massachusetts, to draft plans for a new sunroom and the renovation of the
barn. The Valle Group, also in Falmouth, came on board to do the new construction and reno-
vate other aspects of the house, including the kitchen.
Aside from the addition of the sunroom, the house retains its original footprint. It was
important to Kert that the structure’s antique elements be honored. The house was built by
Jesse Barlow, a shipbuilder. “He used leftover shipping materials from the boats he built,”
says Kert. “The floors in the house are a mishmash of different woods. I love that.” To give
The mantelshelf was crafted
the family often relaxes
together in the newly created
sunroom (left). Curtains in a
lively blue-and-white print by
Duralee frame the windows.
by Kert (inset below left),
who rescued it from the barn.
The front door’s original
stained glass (below) is visible
in the mirror of the antique
hall tree. Behind the house
(bottom) is the renovated
barn, which Kert now uses as
her studio and office.
The Kert children were wary of the decision to buy
the house. “It was so outdated, dirty, and filled with
strange old things,” says daughter Sarah. With her
four kids in mind, Kert designed each guest room
with an extra bed so a friend could be part of a
The 1893 farmhouse