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Author: Marlissa Briggett

Family Nest: A Marion Home Transformed

Once an out-of-place stucco building that ignored its views of Sippican Harbor, this Marion home has transformed into an elegant retreat that embraces its inhabitants as well as its location.

As originally seen here in our Early Spring 2021 print issue. By Annie Sherman; Photography by Erik Kowalski

There was something missing when Tom and Denise bought their new waterfront home: a view of the water.

The glorious Sippican Harbor and Buzzards Bay beyond seemed like the obvious influence on the posh Marion home. But limited windows and obscuring stairways blocked the celebrated view from inside this 1907 former gardener’s cottage.

Tom and Denise changed that. With architect Anthi Frangiadis, builder Dave Crovello of Pimental Contractors, and John Engwer of Eastern Design and Landscaping, the former stucco-faced and awkwardly-placed abode transformed into a fresh and modern nesting place for the entire family.

“It was a really ugly-looking structure, no matter where you looked. But it had elements that could make a beautiful home, like high ceilings and strong dimensions of rooms,” explains Tom. “So, we figured that with an imaginative architect and builder, they could turn something really ugly into something that was beautiful.”


“I like to accommodate multi-generations of families to make sure there are spots for people to squirrel away, as well as spaces for everyone to be together,” says Frangiadis.


“We sat on the dock, and looked at the cottage, and back at the view,” added Denise, “and realized this was where we wanted to be.”Marion home Originally built as a supplement to the former primary property next door, this five-bedroom, four- bathroom, 3,825-square-foot home needed its own identity, says Frangiadis, principal of the eponymous design firm and the Drawing Room retail shop in New Bedford. It also needed to accommodate six people, since the couple’s three grown children and one of their parents were living under one roof. So, without changing the footprint, Frangiadis made a few tweaks that completely transformed the entire structure into a pandemic quarantine gathering place that took advantage of great views.

“From the bedrooms and the front door, you couldn’t see the water,” Frangiadis says. “So, we added a dormer and windows, reconfigured the stairs and the enlarged kitchen. Now, rather than looking at the fridge and sink, you look at the water, and it feels more open.”

In working with Denise and Tom, interior designer Clara Potash of CP Design says the goal was always clear. They wanted a home where they could relax with family and friends and share their love of good food, conversation, and music. “In each room we wanted comfortable seating, interesting color and texture, and a welcoming vibe. We worked to keep the colors consistent throughout the house, coastal in feel, but with enough warmth and sophistication to make it welcoming year-round,” she says.

Marion homeRearranging the problematic staircase seemed to be the solution to the restrictive house’s problems. Blocking the view from the front to the back of the house, it was cramped, dark, and too small for the family’s tall sons. Frangiadis actually widened the treads, removed a beam to accommodate more head room, and replaced a side wall with a banister, while adding a second-floor landing and dormer, to facilitate transparency, light and views. These seemingly slight changes opened up the entire building.

Marion homeSimilar adjustments in the great room turned it from a cold space to a warm and inviting family room, where the kids play keyboards, and everyone gathers on the fireside couches for a post-dinner board game. Additional windows and a commanding fieldstone fireplace allow the water view to decorate the room, though a few pieces of local art color the walls. Even the mantel was salvaged during demolition, when they surprisingly found an original 10’x10’ wood beam buried in the wall.

“No matter where you are, you’re looking at water,” Tom says. With six people in residence, considering space for storage and energy efficiency were critical too. The master suite received a closet refresh, with added office space for Tom, while the four bedrooms upstairs welcome tall closets in the spacious eaves. They added low-voltage accent lighting, energy efficient appliances inside and for the outdoor kitchen, and natural lighting reduces lighting demands, while solar panels on the metal and asphalt shingle roof reduce the carbon footprint.

New storage in the kitchen allowed a metamorphosis into a bright and accommodating mecca for food, so Denise, a nutritionist, could spread her culinary wings. She and Tom sit at the center island counter each morning for breakfast, and she spends countless hours here experimenting with recipes and cooking for family. All-white custom cabinetry complements a framed chalkboard painted on the wall, which is a central spot for shopping lists, reminders, and even the occasional love note.

Marion home“We added this floor-to-ceiling chalkboard with a walnut frame to match the stove hood. This was something I wanted because when we took a trip to France, we saw it in a little lunch place, and loved it,” Denise says.

“I feel as though we gave the house its own character, so it doesn’t feel like a leftover property from the main house,” says Frangiadis. “I like to accommodate multi-generations of families to make sure there are spots for people to squirrel away, as well as spaces for everyone to be together.”

The delights continue outside, too. Adjacent to the kitchen, board and batten siding on an expanded back porch add visual diversity to the cosmopolitan bright cedar shingles that now envelop the house. A new pool with a Sandy Point granite patio doesn’t burn underfoot in the summer, and an outdoor kitchen built of fieldstone, to match the fireplace inside, continues the playful family vibe in the al fresco environment.

“I feel like I’m in California when I’m out here,” says Denise.

Marion home“Bluestone caps on the fireplaces match the gas firepit and front steps, and chrome Kohler fixtures are modern and usable. Everything was here so we could use it and enjoy it, and it won’t be delicate. It was so nice to have this space during the pandemic.”

The property is in the flood zone and water surrounds them on almost all sides, so the team had to earn approval from the Marion Conservation Commission to do excavation for landscaping. It became a huge challenge, Denise says, because they wanted to resolve the flooded backyard but were limited with options for drainage. As a result, their reimagined landscape design considers water above all else. The team from Eastern Design and Landscaping in Wrentham regraded the entire site, encouraging water to drain away from the house, instead of toward it. They eliminated some of the expansive lawn, planting only drought-tolerant native species, like blue stem, switch grass, and other pollinator plants, around the pool and side yards. Now, they won’t need to continually water and fertilize in the hot summer months, which will lower costs for the long term.

More than 1,000 yards of topsoil provide support from underneath, while a new 10,000 square-foot recharge pond collects all of the property’s excess rain water and filters it through compost before draining to the harbor. The new cobblestone driveway also acts like a natural percolator, draining water to the pond.

“We’re taking grass away and putting native plants in to cut down on water and fertilizer use,” says Engwer. “Within two years, they’ll get their money back. So, it’s not just good for the environment, it’s good for their budget.”

Inspired by the family’s lifetime of traveling to Vermont, Maine, and abroad, this whole house now radiates New England and European charm.

“The reason for getting this place is to have a gathering place for the kids,” explains Tom.“We expect to see them a lot with their families as they get married and have kids. And that’s what we wanted: a place where they could come and hang out, and share their lives with us.”


See more photos from this story in our print issue on newsstands now! But you can also have it delivered…

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Cocktails-To-Go: Fun at Ella’s

Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is sending us around town to their favorite food spots because they know that after this past year, more than ever, our favorite restaurants need a shout-out. We stopped in at Ella’s Wood Burning Oven Restaurant to find out the fun things they’re doing over in Wareham….

cocktails to goPerhaps it’s no surprise that it’s all about the cocktails for Bree Swierkowski when she goes out to dinner. She’s surrounded by great cuisine all week at Ella’s which she owns with her husband Chef Mark Swierkowski. So when she looks at someone else’s menu, she’s familiar with the flavor profiles of most everything there. But the cocktail menu? That’s always got something different and interesting for her to try.

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8 Great Things: April on the South Coast

Spring is here! Yahoo! Days are longer and the sun is stronger.  We’ve got 8 Great Things to make April on the South Coast a great month, with many thanks to Anne Whiting Real Estate for sponsoring this!

We’ve got everything from the running of the herring to cabaret nights, from biking to fisherpoets (yes, fisherpoets). We’re pretty sure there’s something on it for everyone!

1. Food, Glorious, Food!

The Onset Bay Association is giving us Taste of the Bay, a fun way to support local restaurants in the Onset/Buzzards Bay/Wareham area, now through May 9. With

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Food & Family: It’s Ice Cream Pie!

Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is sending us around town to their favorite food spots because they know that this year, more than ever, our favorite restaurants need a shout-out. In honor of Pi Day (3.14), S&B sent us out to find a whimsical pie that lived up to the quirkiness of Pi Day…

Gone Country CreameryThe first thing you notice is the delicious smell of butter, vanilla, and brown sugar that envelops you as you walk in the front door of Gone Country Creamery in Wareham. “Yep,” says owner Bryanne Tucy. “I’ll never brew coffee here because it would overpower this sweet smell.”

That welcoming sweetness is partly the result of the waffle cones she bakes to order. If they’re not sold within a short timeframe, they’re not good enough for her high standards and she recycles them to use as ice cream toppings.

ice cream piesBut we were there for the pies. Ice cream pies, to be specific. They’re something she just decided to start making on a whim, she doesn’t even remember why. Today, they are a signature for the shop, steadily building a cult-like following.

Born and raised in Wareham, Bryanne has worked in food her whole life. As a kid, she didn’t play doctor, she played waitress. Since then, she’s held waitressing gigs at all the local go-to spots: Lindsay’s, Leo’s, BrewFish and more. She owned the Victorian Cafe in Onset from 2010 to 2013.

But she’s always loved ice cream and dreamed of owning an ice cream shop. She’s petite so it’s surprising to learn that she makes space in every single day to eat a bowl of ice cream after lunch.  But her desire to open an ice cream place was about more than her own obsession with ice cream. She wanted to have a place that exuded positive vibes and drew happy people toward it. She figured ice cream would do the trick. She couldn’t look at a commercial space without wondering if an ice cream shop would work there.

Gone Country CreameryShe worked for a time as a realtor until she “sold enough houses to open the shop.” She picked out her spot on Main Street in Wareham, down a little alley on the way to Cafe Soleil, with a view of the Wareham River. She built it out, adding family keepsakes like her great grandmother’s rocking chairs out front and woodwork created by cousins. The day she opened in July 2018, she only had $30 left in her bank account.

ice cream piesSince then, she’s building up the business slowly, proud to serve delicious Acushnet Creamery ice cream. The pies ended up being a niche item that people drive from all over to get. And it’s no wonder. They are made with so much care and attention. For the crust, she uses only real Oreo’s, no generic brands. She packs it with ice cream and drizzles real Ghirardelli chocolate on top. By the time she finishes, it weighs five pounds (yes, 5 pounds, that is not a typo).

ice cream piesYou need a crowd to eat one of her pies. That’s why we’re lucky she makes individual pies (she calls them individual pie but they easily serve two people). All of the magic of the large pies at just $9 per pie. The individual size pies, which can be made while you wait, “are keeping gas in my car,” says Bryanne.

She’s still waitressing in the mornings before arriving at Gone Country to open up at 1:00. When she gets there, she’s soaking in the positive energy she knew an ice cream shop would provide. She says, “most people dread going to work. I get to hear kids running down the alley toward the shop and hear their excited voices, then their little faces through the window.” It’s exactly what she imagined when she dreamed of an ice cream shop.

Gone Country Creamery, 245C Main Street, Wareham. Open from 1 to 8. Fridays and Saturdays until 9 pm.  Want to order a pie? Message her on Facebook, email her at [email protected] or call the store (she’ll have a phone number starting in April and we’ll update this post then).

Individual pies are $9 each, 2/$16. 

 

We hope you enjoyed this post, which is part of a series of blog posts celebrating local food spots, sponsored by Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., the premier estate planning and elder law practice serving clients in Southeastern Massachusetts. Surprenant & Beneski, PC  can help you prepare the foundational documents needed to facilitate healthcare, financial and legal decisions should a medical crisis occur. Early planning can save money, heartache and angst during a temporary bout of incapacity or a long-term care event. Getting your estate plan in order gives you peace of mind – is it on your to-do list for 2021? Find out more about them here.

 

In the meantime, if you want to make sure you don’t miss learning the next of S&B’s other favorite food spots, sign up here.

Last post in the series: A pair of restaurant love stories, in honor of Valentine’s Day right here.Margaret's in Fairhaven

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8 Great Things: March on the South Coast

8 Great Things

Spring is so close, we can almost taste it. As we MARCH toward it, we’ve rounded up some things to keep us busy. We think there’s a nice mix: inspiring cozy moments with more active, outdoor pursuits. It’s all about balance. Enjoy our 8 Great Things for you to do in the month ahead (with many thanks to Anne Whiting Real Estate for sponsoring this!) and think about this lovely fact: we’ll be back to you with our next 8 Great Things list on the other side of winter.

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Food & Family: Valentine’s Weekend on the South Coast

Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is sending us around town to their favorite food spots because they know that this year, more than ever, our favorite restaurants need a shout-out. S&B wanted to focus on Valentine’s Day this month — so we found a pair of restaurant love stories….

restaurant love storiesCarol Lareau sees a lot of date nights at her restaurant, Tastebuds in Mattapoisett. She can often tell when there’s a special spark. But she says there are 2 seats in particular that have proved lucky for love: seats 7 and 8 at the bar. She even has conjured a special rhyme for the phenomenon, “Bar seat 7 and 8, Bring a date, Soon to be your mate!”

More than one couple have had their first date at those seats and gone on to long term relationships. We caught up with one of them…

Michael & Jennifer

restaurant love stories

Jennifer & Michael in seats 7 and 8

When Michael and Jennifer showed up on their first date to take seats 7 and 8, Carol says, “I could feel the energy, I called Jennifer’s sister, ‘Hey, something’s going on!'” Before Jennifer made it out the door, she had a text from her sister “Are you on a date with Mike?!” By the time she got home, she says everyone knew.

It wasn’t supposed to be a date. After bumping into each other while separately running, Jennifer and Michael made plans to run together after work. They enjoyed each other’s company so much, they wanted to extend it so they decided to go eat. “We were both so excited, we didn’t even want to go home to shower first,” Jennifer says. On that hot July day, they showed up at Tastebuds sweaty and dirty.  Jennifer wants to be clear about one thing: Tastebuds is a nice restaurant, not the kind of place you show up with your phone tucked into a sports bra, but the connection with Mike was so intense, “apparently I didn’t care. The whole world didn’t matter.”

Restaurant love storiesOver 5 years later, they’re still excited to sit in seats 7 and 8. They’ve bought a house together in the Village “walkable to Tastebuds — it had to be walkable to Tastebuds.” And whenever they can, they sit in those special seats. The magic’s still there.

restaurant love stories

Pictured right: fire roasted shrimp with housemade salsa and wonton chips.

Tastebuds will be open this weekend (including Sunday brunch) for your own love story. They’ll be serving their special Valentine’s menu on Saturday and Sunday. Seats 7 and 8 still have some openings but they’re going fast.  For takeout, preorder on Friday for Saturday pickup and Saturday for Sunday pickup.  Tastebuds, 42 Main Street, Mattapoisett.

Chris & Jen

Chris & Jen Thibeault

Just down Route 6 in Marion, you’ll find chef-owner Chris Thibeault in the kitchen of Atlantic Bistro who has his own very personal restaurant love story. He met his wife Jen when she was a bartender and he was a sous-chef at Mount Blue in Norwell (owned by Joe Perry and Steven Tyler). Unlike our previous couple, Chris’ love story was a little rockier. Jen had a boyfriend when they met but that was not the only obstacle. The problem was that she didn’t really like Chris. He says, “she thought I was particularly cheesy.”

He persevered in proving her wrong. Then, when Jen and her boyfriend broke up, “I saw an opening and made my move,” he says. That was more than 20 years ago so it’s worked out pretty well for him. Jen was instrumental in helping Chris launch Atlantic Bistro in 2017 where he brought his European inspired dishes to Marion.

Atlantic Bistro is closed on Sundays so this year, Chris will be spending Valentine’s Day with Jen. You wonder what a high end chef does for Valentine’s Day? They’ll likely go to brunch for bloody marys and eggs benedict, their usual Sunday treat. But it doesn’t have to be even that elaborate, he says, “if someone makes me a grilled cheese and I don’t have to cook it, I’m happy.”

In the meantime, he’s also happy to transport you away on Friday and Saturday with his food. You can’t jump on a plane to Paris for Valentine’s Day but you can have some French-inspired food at Atlantic Bistro (think duck confit poutine, mushroom tartine, classic pate). You can also try some other specials that will make you feel like you’ve travelled far away from 02738.

After dinner, while you’re savoring the Moroccan-inspired Cardamom and Coriander Cake with chai syrup, topped with a whipped honey syrup (courtesy of Chef de Cuisine Tom Kilbourne), give a silent thanks to Jen for giving Chris a chance two decades ago.

Atlantic Bistro, 167 Spring Street, Marion. 

 

We hope you enjoyed this post, which is part of a series of blog posts celebrating local food spots, sponsored by Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., the premier estate planning and elder law practice serving clients in Southeastern Massachusetts. Surprenant & Beneski, PC  can help you prepare the foundational documents needed to facilitate healthcare, financial and legal decisions should a medical crisis occur. Early planning can save money, heartache and angst during a temporary bout of incapacity or a long-term care event. Getting your estate plan in order gives you peace of mind – is it on your to-do list for 2021? Find out more about them here.

In the meantime, if you want to make sure you don’t miss learning the next of S&B’s other favorite food spots, sign up here.

Last post in the series: Margaret’s in Fairhaven — Catch the seafood at Margaret’s right here.Margaret's in Fairhaven

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8 Great Things: February on the South Coast!

Forget about whether the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2. February 2 is also known as Candlemas, an ancient festival marking the midpoint of winter, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox! Doesn’t that sound more positive than pinning our hopes on a groundhog? To nudge us even closer to spring, we’ve rounded up 8 Great Things for you to do in the month ahead, with many thanks to Anne Whiting Real Estate for sponsoring this!

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Food & Family: Catch the Seafood at Margaret’s

Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is sending us around town to their favorite food spots because they know this this year, more than ever, our favorite restaurants need a shout-out. S&B loves Margaret’s in Fairhaven and they had a special reason for sending us there this month…

Margaret’s chef-owner Doug Buker started as a dishwasher at Seekonk’s Cafe in the Barn when he was 15 years old. Mostly, he was drawn to the kitchen because it paid better than his other gig: caddying at Crestwood Country Club in Rehoboth. But soon, he was moving up in kitchens from Houston to Providence: from washing dishes to prepping the food, he joined the line, moved up the line, and then eventually landed at head chef. He is now owner-chef of the beloved Margaret’s and its sister restaurant Elisabeth’s (note: Elisabeth’s is hibernating until spring).

Margaret's in FairhavenHe’s there every morning at 6 am (usually earlier), literally playing with fire. The sauté pans sit on open flames ready for action, even when they’re empty. “If you’re cooking, and you’re a sauté chef, you better have a hot pan!” he says.

Margaret's in FairhavenFor Doug, it’s all about colors. That’s what he’s thinking about when he creates a dish. He wants greens, reds, whites, and oranges on the plate. It’s pretty, yes, but it’s also the way we should be eating for heart health. That is one of the reasons we approached Doug about healthy eating choices for this series. Our sponsor Surprenant & Beneski’s senior partner, Dan Surprenant had some very personal reasons. It was just one year ago that Dan had major heart attack followed by a quadruple bypass, at just 51 years of age. Happily, Dan has had a great recovery but, like many of us, is looking for ways to incorporate heart healthy eating into his diet. We thought that Margaret’s, with its focus on seafood (within sight of the scallop and fishing boats plying the Acushnet River), seemed a great place to turn.

Margaret's in FairhavenWhen we asked Doug to recreate one of his favorite seafood dishes, he suggested four (!). Sure, we said, because why not? Doug started flying gracefully around the kitchen prepping the food: grabbing some greens, grilling some asparagus, frying up some sweet potato shoestrings and more. In less than half an hour, he was ready for the photo shoot.

Margarets in FairhavenOne of his favorite dishes is the fresco haddock which is also one of Margaret’s most popular. You’ve got the haddock, which is lightly fried, set atop a bed of greens and a fresh tomato-basil relish and then garnished with shoestring sweet potato fries. He garnishes it with some lemon aioli and lemon zest and, bam, you’re getting all your colors. He wasn’t done with haddock though. He grilled some and combined it with grilled asparagus, pesto and almonds. Then he wowed us with grilled scallops with a maple-mustard sauce that he used for a scallop salad. He also paired the scallops with corn relish, greens and mashed potatoes for yet another variation.

In the same way that Doug juggles multiple dinners, he also juggles running both kitchens — he credits his amazing team for making it work (shout out to Brad!). Doug likes that the two restaurants each have their own flavor. Margaret’s is a breakfast and lunch place, where you can BYOB. Elisabeth’s is for lunch or a night out, with a full service bar.

Margaret's in FairhavenYou may see Doug darting between the two kitchens during the day in the little alley between the two buildings. But you won’t see him out front as he prefers staying in the background. When we asked him to sit down in the dining room to try his own scallops, he said it was a first, “I’ve never sat out here before,” he said. He took a forkful and nodded, “tastes good.” That’s definitely an understatement. Everyone else thinks it tastes great.

Longtime waitress Diane Downey says she loves working at Margaret’s. “I love the locals coming in. The food – everything is fresh, nothing from a box. I’m proud to serve it.”

Photos by Liam Connor Photography

Margaret’s, 16 Main Street, Fairhaven. Elisabeth’s is closed until spring.

We hope you enjoyed this post, which is part of a series of blog posts celebrating local food spots, sponsored by Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., the premier estate planning and elder law practice serving clients in Southeastern Massachusetts. This month marks one year since Managing Partner Dan Surprenant personally recognized the value of being prepared in the event of a medical crisis. Read Dan’s heartfelt story here. Surprenant & Beneski, PC  can help you prepare the foundational documents needed to facilitate healthcare, financial and legal decisions should a medical crisis occur. Early planning can save money, heartache and angst during a temporary bout of incapacity or a long-term care event. Getting your estate plan in order gives you peace of mind – is it on your to-do list for 2021? Find out more about them here.

In the meantime, if you want to make sure you don’t miss learning about more of S&B’s other favorite food spots, sign up here.

Last post in the series: New Bedford’s The Baker — Click here to see Brandon Roderick whip up some cronuts….

The Baker

Margaret's in Fairhaven

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Food, Family & Holidays: The Baker’s Cronut Pop-ups

The Baker

Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is sending us around town to their favorite food spots because they know this time of year is all about food and family (and also because this year, more than ever, our favorite small businesses need a shout-out). S&B loves to get lunch from The Baker in downtown New Bedford so we went to find out what Brandon Roderick was up to…

The BakerWhen it was first introduced by Dominique Ansel in 2013, the cronut — a combination croissant/donut — caused a bit of a ruckus in NYC. People lined up around the block to buy them at his bakery. Scalpers bought and resold them for many times the original price — at one point, they were charging $100 per cronut and $5,000 for a 20-piece order.  This winter, The Baker in New Bedford brings the cronut to the South Coast.

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