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Style Watch

Decorating a Cape Cod getaway with bright yellow accents

Happy color prevails in this 1899 South Yarmouth home right on the water.

Dan Cutrona
Dan Cutrona

Designer Alys S. Protzman was thrilled: There was no question who would do the interiors of the place her sister, Newburyport-based landscape designer Trent Lloyd, had bought in South Yarmouth. Originally built for a sea captain in town and relocated to the banks of the Bass River in about 1899, the house was dark and cramped, says the Pittsboro, North Carolina, interior designer. Sticking to a white palette accented with yellow (Benjamin Moore “Bright Yellow,” to be exact), along with a few new upholstered pieces and plenty of secondhand finds, Protzman transformed the cottage into a happy summer retreat for her sister’s young family.


1 | Protzman’s woodworker husband built the swing, and she painted it.

2 | To gain a better view of the river, walls came down and sliders were added, along with a brick patio.

3 | Sofas from Restoration Hardware are upholstered in outdoor fabric that feels like washed linen. “It was the only way my brother-in-law would agree to white,” says Protzman.

4 | Protzman commissioned an Etsy maker in France to create linen pillows with painted yellow circles, similar to ones her sister had seen in a photo.

5 | A carpenter for the contractor, LaBarge Homes, built the coffee table from reclaimed barn wood; tiny chairs came from the local swap shop.

6 | The original floorboards were stripped, sanded, and pickled for a driftwood effect.

7 | Unfinished stools, $30 each from Amazon, got the same “Bright Yellow” as the cabinets.

8 | The carpenter also built the freestanding Parsons-style island with IKEA butcher-block top. “It requires maintenance to avoid stains and cut marks,” says Protzman, “but my sister is fine with what she calls ‘texture’ in a summer house.”

9 | Open shelving replaced upper cabinetry. For the backsplash, Protzman chose whitewashed shiplap rather than traditional tile.


10 | The existing lower cabinets were repainted yellow, treated to new hardware, and topped with Silestone. “The low horizontal band of color anchors the space,” says Protzman.