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A fresh palette transforms a family home on the Rhode Island shore

Practical furnishings in gray, blue, and navy help create a beach house ready for summer fun.

Sarah Winchester

Having spent most of their energy on outdoor improvements, Cecilia Walker’s clients were ready to overhaul the interiors of their beachfront home in Middletown, Rhode Island. The Hingham-based interior designer worked with the couple, who have three children under age 10, to develop a whole new look. With houseguests every weekend in the summer, it was important that the furnishings be durable and the aesthetic carefree. They chose a gray, blue, and navy palette that Walker used throughout the house, so that every room flows seamlessly into the next. The walls are painted Benjamin Moore White Wisp, which has gray undertones, and the trim is a crisp white. Rather than re-stain the Douglas fir floors, Walker used indoor-outdoor rugs and broadloom wool carpets cut to fit each room, to de-emphasize the naturally yellowish wood and mitigate sandy feet. Walker says, “We freshened the decor and tweaked functionality to better suit their lifestyle.”

1. The shelving unit in the living room was too heavy to move, so Walker jumped at the chance to pull both sofas out from the walls a few feet. “I don’t like seating to line the perimeter of a room,” she says.


2. Alex sofas by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, upholstered in blue velvet, replaced an ill-functioning sectional. “Nobody wanted to sit in the corner seat,” Walker says.

3. A mix of custom and off-the-shelf pillows, plus a throw from Elizabeth Home Decor & Design in Chestnut Hill, introduce graphic patterns without deviating from the color palette.

4. A framed giclee print of artist Scott Hile’s Pushing Paint, from Furniture Consignment Gallery in Hanover, adds a contemporary accent.

5. Oversize hammered-glass table lamps by Arteriors Home sit atop linen-wrapped Parsons side tables by Bungalow 5. “The lamps are quite sturdy and set back on the tables so the kids can’t easily knock them over,” Walker says.


6. The homeowners’ Brunschwig & Fils club chair is in its third incarnation. “We used a funkier fabric — Fresco by Laura Kirar for Highland Court — to perk up the traditional frame,” Walker says.

7. Walker customized the Kravet Vassar ottoman with gray chenille upholstery and nickel nailhead trim after enlarging it to 48 inches square. Casters allow for easy movement. “Sometimes the kids push it against the sofa to use it as a bed,” Walker says.

Sarah Winchester

8. The Geoffrey chandelier from Arteriors Home adds a weathered element to the area off the family room, with its driftwood finish, rusted chain, and Edison bulbs.

9. Walker re-covered the wing chairs and relocated them from the kitchen. “The husband likes to sit in these for morning coffee,” she says.

10. When the dining table fills up, an extension table by Orient Express Furniture handles the overflow along with a table on the adjacent patio.

11. Serena & Lily Carson side chairs have rush-like seats that withstand damp towels and bathing suits.