A Classic Seaside Home in Chatham Reveals Itself in the Unique Interior Design
By Jessica Laniewski
Photography by Dan Cutrona
Chatham Magazine 2010 Annual Issue
What is a family of four to do when they stumble upon their dream home in the quiet peace of South Chatham? Besides moving in and summering happily ever after, for these Chatham homeowners the best was yet to come as they started to prepare the airy interior for entertaining. The family’s summer nirvana, a white beach house built by retired Chatham builder Peter Barber, sits off a quiet, unpaved road with broad sweeping views of Nantucket Sound.
“This is absolutely the house we wanted,” says the homeowner who knew from the start this house would be her family’s summer getaway. “We drove up to the neighboring house, then went down to the beach and the builder for this house was on the stairs and invited us in for a look.”
The stylish family recruited interior designer Alice Duthie of Chatham to help execute their polished-yet-fun aesthetic. Yearning to make the home a separate entity entirely from their primary residence in Boston’s suburbs and ski chalet in New Hampshire, Duthie put a slight twist on Cape Cod chic with bright pops of color against subtle sandy tones.
“The house was brand new and had great bones to work with,” says Duthie smiling. “They could move in and enjoy it. It’s a girly-girl family.”
Between the two daughter’s semesters at university and family safari vacations in Africa, they moved in as Duthie incorporated all four of their suggestions into the interior design. Each room in the house has its own personality within the elegant seaside theme as colors are light and classically bright. Most exciting for Duthie was the opportunity to acquire every piece of furniture in the house, as nothing was brought from the homeowners others homes.
A Place for Entertaining
Duthie wanted to keep everything effortlessly chic for the active family and their friendly pooch, Topper, but with the lived-in, unstuffy feeling so desired in a Cape Cod summer home.
“I wanted to start introducing corals and greens in the front hallway,” says Duthie pointing to the custom loveseat covered in a rich, striped Robert Allen fabric. Duthie also initiates the trend of using local artwork as a design element with three colorful and whimsical prints of Chatham by Brenda Drew hanging at staggered heights above the loveseat.
While some beautiful homes focus on the Great Room and others on the kitchen, Duthie paid special attention to the gathering room off the entry hall. “The homeowner said she didn’t want this to be a dining room and so it’s a girl’s room where they can gather and chit-chat and read,” says the designer. The leather chairs by Grange are a perfect place to lean back, kick up polished toes on the large ottoman and relax with a cool drink.
Since everyone gravitates toward the gathering room, Duthie thought six chairs would be more appropriate than four to surround the oversized ottoman. An incredibly chic, stylized sunburst mirror by Century Furniture on the far wall makes the space seem even larger as it reflects the hallway sitting area and staircase.
As large, dominating windows can be a blessing letting in Chatham’s beautiful natural light, they can also be a curse when one wants privacy. While it was tempting to simply mount blinds on the windows, Duthie saw the important of window treatments. “When I first started the job the homeowners said she didn’t want draperies,” says Duthie, but the large windows let in a lot of light. On a whim, Duthie had draperies made for the gathering room, a light blue-green fabric with shell detailing that gently “puddle” on the wood floors. Once Duthie put the panels up, the homeowner changed her mind and asked for window coverings to be made for all the rooms.
In keeping with the idea of being open and hospitable, the airy kitchen beckons guests to come gather around the spacious, granite island. The family hosts guests and the grils’ friends throughout the summer so it was important to have a table that would accommodate an influx of people. The welcoming circular table, where no one gets stuck with a dreaded corner spot, has detachable leaves with seating for ten.
Duthie designed the open lounging area as an aesthetically pleasing extension of the kitchen. Butter soft, cream hued Hancock and Moore leather chairs were chosen for the living room so the family can fall into the chairs and comfortably watch the large television mounted above the mantel. Instead of a traditional large sofa dominating the room, Duthie and the homeowners decided upon two Kravet loveseats on each side of the coffee table. The shaggy carpet, so soft underfoot, was specially made to look like a sandy patch of beach and the corners were clipped so they don’t rise up.
The living room’s view of the glistening water expanding for miles behind the home is framed by large floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors opening onto the patio. In order to allow the view to dominate, Duthie and the homeowner chose an eighteen-foot long cornice hanging above the panel of windows.
The downstairs master suite, off of the living room and usually occupied by the homeowners’ parents during summer visits, is a montage of blues that work well together.
Each bed is fitted with a set of luxurious Matouk bed linens and the latticework headboards were custom-made to match the comforter. Dale Michaels Wade of Eastham was commissioned to paint the Triptych of hydrangeas in homage to Chatham’s finest flower.
In Duthie’s meticulous style, no detail is overlooked. While a rug is often the last piece purchased for a room, floor coverings are an integral part of the overall design theme in this Chatham home. The rug in the downstairs master suite is a custom made masterpiece by Ralph Lauren with wide blue and cream stripes. The edge closest to the door was designed to gently “wave” away, both a practical and creative element.
Twisting a Classic
Continuing the house’s design theme upstairs, Duthie added edgy color and textured material to the bedrooms. The two daughters choose the décor and color schemes of their individual bed and bathrooms.
“I was talking to Alice and I really like bold things and black, white, and pink. We found the comforter online and then did the mural,” says Lyndsay, an aspiring actress, whose room has views of the family’s boat bobbing on the water. Lyndsay opted for graduated stripes of pink paints in flat and pearl finishes for the walls.
Amid the bright pink, Wade painted two sprawling murals of black flowers on the walls above the bed and directly across from the door. The artist also painted elegant black stripes on Lyndsay’s dressing table, giving the room and its adjoining bathroom a fun twist on French elegance.
“There is so much to do on the Cape,” says an enthusiastic Hannah, who works as a camp counselor during the summers. Both sisters enjoy that many of their friends summer on the Cape. Hannah’s room is even more vibrant with Lilly Pulitzer bedding and the iconic brands key colors: green, yellow, and pink painted on different walls. Since the ned is set close to the window, Duthie and Hannah skipped drapes in favor of a green and white polka dot lambrequin. A white circular carpet with hot pink fringe, a favorite of Duthie’s, and a complementing tufted headboard from Robert Allen finish the room’s design.
Down the hallway from their daughters’ rooms, the master suite, flooded with natural light, has high ceilings opening up the space. In a sitting area in the main room, two chairs covered in blue, green and white striped Kravet fabric, give the homeowners a place to drink their coffee on leisurely summer mornings. The Thibaut floral fabric cornice with matching panels frames the wall of windows and doors overlooking Nantucket Sound.
On the balcony off the master suite, with views of the sandy beach and the family’s private mooring, two custom-built white Adirondack chairs were craved at Seaport Shutters in Brewster and have a starfish laser-cut into each headrest.
Back downstairs through the welcoming entry hall and warm kitchen, the family heads to the beach, accessible by stairs at the edge of the backyard. After collecting seashells from the tide line or enjoying the sunset from their boat, the family comes back to their home where simplicity and elegance drive the interior design. Pulling up one of the red Adirondack chairs on the patio, they soak in the summer in Chatham.