Design Diary: Sunshine-y House on the Bass River

I was very excited when photographer Dan Cutrona sent my photos of this Cape Cod cottage in South Yarmouth, which was featured in Boston Globe Magazine earlier this month.. It’s one of my favorites, and it has a swing. The all white space, punctuated with pops of yellow, is home to Newburyport-based landscape designer Trent Lloyd, and was decorated by her sister, North Carolina-based Alys S. Protzman of Alys Design. The decorating was done on a budget, which wasn’t too much of a challenge given that Lloyd favors on rustic simplicity.

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. 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. The view is incredible; they can see the kids, who take sailing lessons, breeze by in the afternoons. The sliders open to a wide stair and brick patio.

Cape Cottage WIth Living Room Swing

Protzman’s sister and brother-in-law have three daughters, ages 9, 7 , and 4. The kid on the swing is the only boy cousin out of ten grandchildren. “There’s a lot of female energy around here,” she says. As for taking turns, each kid gets 20 swings before having to pass it on to the next. She adds, “It’s a fun way to keep the kids entertained during cocktail hour.” Protzman’s husband, who’s a woodworker, built the swing, and she painted it.

A cotton rag rug from a store in the Florida Panhandle covers the pickled white floors. The original floors were painted black with splatters of white paint. Seriously. They stripped them, and had to patch certain areas because the wood got so worn down. They stained the floorboards white rather than painting them. Protzman says, “The stain goes into the wood, so you’re less likely to see scratches; it’s more durable. Also rather than a monolithic white, it’s very beachy and driftwood-y, with a bit of warmth.”

The Restoration Hardware sofas are upholstered in an outdoor fabric by Perennials Outdoors, that feels like washed linen. Protzman commissioned an Etsy maker in France to create linen pillows with painted yellow circles. A carpenter for the contractor, LaBarge Homes, built the coffee table from reclaimed barn wood, and the tiny chairs came from the local swap shop. The table in the corner is a primitive, folk art style. Their mom jokes that it looks like it fell off a boat a hundred years ago.

A plain bulb fixture from Schoolhouse Electric dangles low, just above the side table, It’s an orangey yellow. Protzman says, “The yellows didn’t match perfectly in places, which Lloyd was a little concerned about it, but I think it adds depth; you don’t want to be too matchy matchy.”

White Living Room WIth Yellow Accents

Protzman arranged four swivel chairs around an old telephone cable spool used as a coffee table. She says, “It’s been a hit. You can swivel to the kitchen, or watch the sunset with your feet up; the setup allows for total flexibility, and the kids like to spin on them.” The idea grew out of not wanting a sofa backing up to the either the dining room or the kitchen.. She adds, “It might become my calling card. I’m so sick of pushing furniture against walls.”

Country Style All White Kitchen WIth Pops Of Yellow

In the kitchen, unfinished stools, $30 each from Amazon, got the same Benjamin Moore “Bright Yellow” paint as the lower bank of cabinetry (they kept the existing but swapped the hardware). The laminate counters were replaced with Silestone. Open shelving replaced upper cabinetry, hung against whitewashed shiplap, a material also used in the upstairs hallway. The carpenter 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.” The vintage warehouse pendant is from Etsy.

Mixed Dining Room Seating In Cape Cottage

Protzman says that in trying to figure out what to do with this long and skinny space, they realized they could make it work as a dining room that would function as a multi-use space, for puzzles and projects too.

Lloyd wanted mix-and match-chair look. Protzman says, “It’s an arty collection of odd chairs.” Some are weighty; some minimal. There’s painted metal, chrome, and white leather, plus slipcovered pieces. The slipcovered bench from Serena & Lily is on casters, and seats two. Protzman found three painted blue ,metal chairs for $45 each at Scott’s, an antique mall  in Atlanta. The blue is the only other color introduced in the house.

Jeff Soderbergh, a Wellfleet-based woodworker, designed the 17-foot long dining table. It’s made out of board called “king’s wood” found in the home’s attic. (“King’s wood” boards were wide, choice planks saved to send back to the King, way back when.) Soderbergh didn’t sand the 15-inch wide boards, which were originally hand-planed, so the top is not perfectly flat. The natural curvature of the boards, the knots, and somebody’s hand-carved initials, were all left intact.

Since it’s just two-inches thick, he added an apron front for the illusion of heft. Lloyd loved the idea of doing an industrial leg, so Soderbergh sourced old, cast iron factory legs that say “Boston “on them, powder coated in white. The table was assembled on site; it took seven guys to carry the three sets of legs.

All White Cape Cod Cottage Stairway

Yellow And White Striped Tile Bathroom

This was originally a powder room with dead space, so they made it into an indoor beach shower. Lloyd and her husband are tri-athletes, so they made it into a steam shower. It’s large enough for the whole family and has a bench in there. As for the yellow and white striped tile design, Protzman says, “I thought we would put in a tiny touch of the nautical,; it reminds me of a sail.”

Yellow & White Living Room WIth Swing

During the renovation they added three sets of sliders to the exterior wall, really opening it to the outdoors. They replaced the windows over the sofa, but stuck to the traditional six-over-six configuration.

Capde Cod Cottage On The Bass River

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