Getting a Cape Cod vacation home ready in record time
They wanted to be in their new place in West Barnstable by summer. Here’s how they met a tight deadline, without skimping on style.
From the outside, the symmetrical weathered shingle-clad Colonial looks like a relic from another era. The interior of the West Barnstable home features architectural elements common in the region’s 19th-century residences, such as wide-plank heart-pine floors and a fireplace in the dining room that’s tall enough for an adult to stand up in.
But the period look is a little misleading. “The house was built in the 1980s as a Colonial reproduction,” says homeowner Susan O’Bell. The antique charm and the fabulous location near the beach lured her and her husband to buy the place as a refuge from their hectic existence in Wellesley.
To make the house feel more suited to her family, O’Bell hired the original builder, E.J. Jaxtimer, to create cohesion among the living spaces on the first floor. “We had wider doorways put between the traditional small rooms to make them feel more open to each other,” says O’Bell. The property also gained a pool and pool house.
For the decor, O’Bell turned to Boston-area designer Katie Rosenfeld, who had worked on the family’s year-round home. “It was a quick turnaround. We started working on the house in February 2014 and everything was installed by Memorial Day,” recalls Rosenfeld. To make sure the furnishings were available in time for the start of summer, Rosenfeld ordered most items from retail sources. “We elevated store-bought furnishings with custom pillows and window treatments and to-the-trade lighting,” says Rosenfeld.
“I didn’t want another typical blue-and-white Cape summer house,” says O’Bell. “But we did want some blue.” Vibrant Quadrille fabrics liven up most of the rooms. “Most of them have a bit of blue in them,” says Rosenfeld, who is known for her daring pattern pairing. “But not all the same shade of blue, and the patterns are all very different — some are floral, others are geometrical.”
In the kitchen and dining area, the burnished gold floral Quadrille draperies aren’t anything O’Bell would ever have picked — that was all Rosenfeld. But the homeowner fell in love with the fabric as soon as it was installed.
The color scheme and the durable upholstery on most of the furnishings suit the family’s active lifestyle — the couple’s sons are 8, 6, and 3 — and Rosenfeld made sure there was a little feminine flair in the master bedroom.
“The blue floral window treatments and the bedding feel very serene and lovely to me,” says O’Bell, who enjoys slipping off to the room for a respite during the day now and then. “Even when I’m up there, though, I can still see and hear the activity going on out at the pool, so I feel like I’m a part of things.”
White walls and sisal rugs keep the house feeling casual and unfussy. “Sisal is so forgiving and informal, which is important because a lot of sand is tracked into the house,” says Rosenfeld.
The layout is compact, with just three bedrooms upstairs. On the main floor, thanks to the widened doorways, the kitchen-dining area feels unified and larger than it is. Separate small sitting rooms on either side of the area ensure that the family has plenty of space to spread out and get comfortable.
“It’s not a big house by any means, but it feels like plenty of space to us,” says O’Bell. “We love coming here. As soon as we drive over the bridge, everyone feels so much more relaxed.”