Designer Show Home (Cape May, NJ)

The Job Site:

Simplicity and Functionality Replace Victorian Ornamentation

Fifteen interior designers recently convened on the 90-year-old Craftsman-style home located at 800 Washington Street in quaint Cape May, New Jersey.


Top designers from the Northeast applied for inclusion in a Designer Show House sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, or MAC. The organization’s mission is to bolster support of historic preservation throughout the nation’s oldest seaside community.


The Craftsman style home was designed in close keeping with the “mission” style popularized by Gustav Stickley. Stickley designed functional oak furniture, and later evolved into designing practical Craftsman style homes that promoted family interaction and relied on functional elements such as beams and brickwork to lend decoration.

The Challenge:

“More Fun than Challenging”

The designers descended upon the Cape May home with a mission of their own. Each was assigned a room to decorate with their own unique flair, and the diverse interior projects ranged from a 1950s retro-style kitchen to a two-car garage.


When it came time to install a state-of-the-art HVAC system, the home’s new owner contacted Grace Energy in Rio Grande, New Jersey. Dan Glaze was the service manager on the project, and stepped up to the challenge of modernizing the home’s HVAC system without compromising its aesthetics.

“Although there are always challenges associated with installations in older homes, they definitely were not insurmountable,” says Grace Energy’s Dan Glaze. “Unico makes it extremely easy to complete installations in older homes. It wasn’t difficult to run the supply tubing, and we actually had a great deal of fun completing this project. You always have the challenge of preserving the original look and feel of a historical home, but to be honest, this one was more fun than challenging.”

The Solution:

“Unico Sells Itself”

“When it came to the HVAC system, the homeowner had immediately thought of Unico because he had worked with them previously on other properties,” said Glaze. “In fact, the homeowner selected Grace Energy to complete the installation because he knew we represented the Unico System. Unico really sells itself, especially when it comes to older homes.”


Three separate Unico systems were installed, including two 2-1/2 ton units in the basement and on the second floor and a 5-ton unit on the first floor. Three Armstrong units were matched with the Unico System air handlers to provide the cooling. The system was equipped with 60 outlets in all, with 30 of these on the first floor.

The Results:

"One of the Best We've Done"

“The Unico System worked from the moment we turned it on,” said Glaze. “The air distribution was perfect, and we easily met our deadline for the opening.”


All the renovations were completed by April of 2005, when the home was opened for tours. The home was not only redesigned and modernized, but gained its rightful place among the other unique homes and “bed and breakfasts” for which Cape May, New Jersey, is known. Dan Glaze sums up the Unico installation: “I’d have to say this is one of the best installations we’ve done.”