It took three years for Brad Walker and Rodin Shaw Cole to find their weekend haven in Provincetown. “A lot of what we saw on the market had been recently renovated. We wanted something with character. I didn’t want to escape to the Cape and feel like I’m in a suburban apartment,” says Walker, a principal of Boston-based Ruhl Walker Architects.
Last August, the couple closed on their dream property: a cottage that was originally an ell added on to a larger 1840s Greek Revival. Wide-plank pine floors, a heavy exposed timber “spine” on the main level, and an old wood fireplace surround speak to the home’s era. A lovely tree-shrouded yard provides the outdoor space Walker and Cole craved. At just under 900 square feet on two levels, the size of the home is just right, too. “We didn’t want to spend all of our time at the house dealing with upkeep,” says Walker. “The small size is very manageable.”
Because the house has good bones, major renovations weren’t needed, though Walker envisions updating the bathrooms at some point. For the interiors, the couple combed Pinterest and created inspiration boards. “We wanted an atmosphere that felt right for the age and style of the house and furniture that was well scaled, durable, and generally inexpensive,” says Walker. “We didn’t care if anything matched or particularly went together,” he says, but “nothing could be too heavy, since the ceilings are rather low.”
The couple steered away from the classic beach decor of coastal cottages. “For six or seven weeks in the summer, Provincetown is bright and beachy. For much of the rest of the year, it’s gray and weathered and subsumed in rolling fog. We like that. We wanted the home to feel good during all seasons of the year,” says Walker.
While he admits that the charcoal walls and gray furnishings were a leap of faith, the effect is dramatic and enveloping. “It’s a simple, clean, and calming place.”
GETTING SAVVY ABOUT ONLINE FURNITURE SHOPPING
Walker and Cole didn’t want any of their furnishings to be too precious, so they hunted for inexpensive pieces that suited their aesthetic. “Shopping online makes this much easier than it’s ever been,” says Walker. But before clicking “add to cart,” he says, it’s essential to have a furniture plan. “Know where it’s going in your house, what size you need, and how the particular piece will go with the other pieces you have in there.” Most of the furnishings in their home came from sites like Wayfair.com, Overstock.com, and Target.com. “Since you can find things these days that are shockingly inexpensive, you don’t have to be afraid to make a mistake,” says Walker. “Almost everything is returnable. If it doesn’t work, you can afford the $30 it costs to ship it back.” Just be sure to save the packaging.