A Coastal Massachusetts Kitchen Steeped in History

How one quintessential New England home got a fresh update.

Photography by Laure Joliet

Just 35 miles from bustling Boston and brimming with neighborhoods of quaint waterside cottages, the hook-shaped peninsula on the end of Massachusetts is the quintessential New England hotspot. Characterized by its harbors, windswept beaches, lighthouses, ponds and bay, Cape Cod is synonymous with northern beachside living. But for one family’s summertime getaway, the antique character of their waterside home, while charming, was in desperate need of a fresh update.

Seeking a home that captured Cape Cod's waterfront lifestyle, the San-Francisco-based family enlisted Cali designer Caitlin Moran to transform their dark, drab kitchen into a space more suited to reside by the beach, all the while keeping its early 1900s charm.

“For me as a designer, it was a really fun process to work on an older home—we don’t have houses like this that are 300 years old in California—everything is so solid in a home like this, Moran told Domino. “It was fun to work with the builders and find out details, but it definitely needed to be updated.” 

Photography by Laure Joliet

Setting out to capture the picturesque nature of the home and its surrounding town of Duxbury, Massachusetts, Moran worked with her clients to create a space that would cater to the easygoing nature of their family. With three kids and a love of entertaining at the forefront of the family’s needs, Moran did an overhaul of the kitchen and dining area.

“Nature and ocean were so important in terms of embracing that inside/outside living experience,” says Moran. “I tried to be sensitive with the colors, pulling in some of those saturated colors but balancing them out with whites and ivory, too.”

A wall of paned windows now looms above the kitchen sink giving way to a stunning view of the gorgeous water beyond. Translating that Atlantic blue into the light-filled space, Moran selected a saturated slate blue that grounds the space while black granite countertops maintain the vibe of the old home. Natural open shelving further opens up the space, while white subway tile to the ceiling makes it feel lighter and brighter than before.

Cabinets are Dark Pewter 2210-10 by Benjamin Moore. Photography by Laure Joliet

Although reconfiguring the space was no easy task, in the end, it was Moran’s favorite part of revamping the historical house. A lack of square footage inspired Moran to opt for a breakfast table instead of a traditional island, which adds an extra homey touch. 

“As it turns out, my client (who is always cooking) loves it,” says Moran. "The scale is lower so people are always having coffee or reading a newspaper there and I think it just really helps the kitchen feel more like a room and less like a functional space.”

Photography by Laure Joliet

In keeping the cozy, colonial aesthetic that Moran and the family were looking for, the dining area consists of custom pieces and vintage finds. A perfectly patina dining table was made from old wood wall boards and channel some of the house’s rich history with visible wear marks and remnant nail holes.

Meanwhile, a custom upholstered banquette sits opposite traditional chairs as a casual dining option. A pro tip from Moran is to laminate the upholstery of our choice if you don’t want to commit to leather—it’s wipeable, will last, and in this case, the print adds some much-needed movement to the eat-in area.

Photography by Laure Joliet

But in both spaces and throughout the home, Moran placed a major emphasis on preserving the integrity and history of the quintessential home. The solid, original floors span throughout while touches of vintage furnishings and finishes make the new reno feel like it belongs.

“I kind of tried to use older pieces, but interpret the rooms and spaces in a fresh way. I didn’t want it to feel like a time capsule. There are a lot of vintage finds, but where I couldn’t find vintage, I tried to select new things that still felt connected.”

The final result is a far cry from the cramped, dated space that once was. Now casual and comfortable, the updated home still gives nod to its original era with style and grace.

Photography by Laure Joliet
Published on June 21, 2018 - 1:30pm EDT

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