Designer Irina MacPhee transforms a second home into a year-round Shangri-La for new retirees.
By Laurel Kornhiser • Photography by Dan Cutrona
Interior Design: Pastiche of Cape Cod
Often, as we outgrow phases in our lives, we mark our transition by changing our spaces. We adjust our homes when we couple, when we add children, when we become empty nesters, and again when we retire. In fact, interiors we love at one point in our lives can feel tired, even uncomfortable when we change our roles or perspective.
So it was for a Massachusetts couple ready to embrace full-time retirement on Cape Cod. When it was time to turn their second home, a colonial overlooking a marsh in the Mid-Cape, into their primary home, they knew it needed to be updated and refreshed to serve its new expanded role. To help them define and realize their new vision, they enlisted Irina MacPhee, owner of Pastiche of Cape Cod, located in West Barnstable. She was immediately smitten by the property: “It is like a little Shangri-La. It’s very private, and it has incredible light.”
Not all transformations require a full structural overhaul. In this case, MacPhee says, her clients “wanted to refurbish the spaces of their home—give it a new personality.” The bathrooms and kitchen would be remodeled, and the remaining rooms would be revitalized through a lighter palette, brighter spaces and new lighting, furnishings and accessories. “We wanted to bring in a variety of materials and play with the light,” MacPhee says. “You don’t often get the type of light that this house has.”
Just as we carry former aspects of ourselves as we move forward into new phases and roles, this project required MacPhee to work with a few treasured artifacts from her clients’ past: a Rococo-style burl wood sofa table, a burl wood credenza, a sculpture by Murano glass blower Davide Salvadore, a kitchen and a dining set, two floor lamps with saffron-beaded shades, and various pieces of art, including a baroque-style decorative bowl. To these were added new sofas, chairs, occasional, side, and coffee tables, and chandeliers and table lamps.
To achieve the casual sophistication of the great room, MacPhee balanced diverse textures and elements, from glass, quartz, and bronze to wood, shell, and various fabrics. “We blended different materials together to achieve a feeling that is light, bright, airy, spacious, and inviting,” she says.
The key to creating a unified look from disparate elements, MacPhee explains, is to “create a plumb line of color, texture, or material.” For example, the new lamps on the living room side tables have burl bases, a nod to the credenza and the sofa table. Branches are another motif, as antique bronzed branches serve as the base of the coffee table, appear in the chandelier over the kitchen table, and reappear in the fireplace screen and again in a martini table in the master bedroom. Glass is another unifying element in the great room. The glass of the kitchen table is echoed in the new coffee table top, the shards that dangle from the double-shade chandelier hanging over the dining table, and in the glass pendants, a pair of glass-faced cabinets, glass knobs, and soft glass subway tile—all in the kitchen proper.
Adding to the brightness of the many reflective glass surfaces is the sparkling white kitchen designed by Gail O’Rourke of White Wood Kitchens in Sandwich, Massachusetts. To ensure that “everything flowed together,” O’Rourke worked closely with MacPhee, who helped select the backsplash tile, the Costa Esmeralda granite, the glass light pendants, and the Design Within Reach counter stools, which MacPhee says “add a contemporary flair” to the kitchen. The clients’ original kitchen chairs were reupholstered in a Sunbrella fabric, while the seats of the dining chairs were recovered in bone leather with the backs clad in a fabric whose geometric design echoes that of the hand-hooked living room area rug. This rug and the more casual striped rug under the kitchen table are both “works of art,” MacPhee says.
While the home’s original palette tended to be dark, MacPhee lightened the spaces by alternating soft seafoams, creams, and judiciously used coral. The living room rug and a set of table lamps, for example, are seafoam green, while decorative pillows and the stationary window panels, chosen to “soften all of the hard surfaces,” MacPhee says, appear in coral. A fan coral fabric covers two chairs that join the sofa—dressed in a neutral fabric punctuated with brass studs—to create an intimate seating arrangement around the fireplace. To add another pop of color, MacPhee set a saffron lacquered table between two seafoam lounge chairs. “It’s an outside-the-box addition that brings a welcomed surprise to the space,” she says.
Hanging above the fireplace mantel is a large painting by Provincetown artist Anne Packard, while a smaller work by Cheryl Dyment hangs above the sofa table and another sits on the credenza. When it came time to select a piece to hang over the sofa, MacPhee decided a bit of variety was needed and opted for two sculptural shell pieces. “The way they reflect light is beautiful,” she says.
The play of light over varied surfaces, the contrasting textures and elements, and the ever-changing natural scene outside will help ensure that MacPhee’s clients enter their newest phase of living in contemporary, dynamic spaces, anchored to their past through a handful of much beloved, time-honored pieces.