A historic rural home with a wonderful barn-like addition
Fortunately for little bare feet, there are few toe-stubbing thresholds dividing inside from out in the Lovato family's breezy Cape Cod summer house. Patrice and Walter's four children pad happily across gently worn interior chestnut floors to a sun-warmed plank porch and the cool grassy lawn beyond.
This seamless connection lures the Lovatos from their San Francisco home to the Massachusetts cape for most of the summer, with Walter flying back and forth for his work. They're not alone, however. Walter is Italian, and much of his family lives in Europe. So, come summer, his parents fly from Italy and a brother from Paris. Nephews, cousins, some with nannies in tow, also make the trek from Europe to the Cape for a holiday in the sun.
"This is a happy extended family," says Maureen Footer, Patrice's sister and the interior designer who helped the family renovate. "They are an old-fashioned, easygoing family that embraces a sort of la dolce vita or que sera sera vein in the summer."
The Lovatos bought the historic house in large part because it sits midway between California and Europe, simplifying family gatherings. However, the original 1817 house, while charming, could not comfortably accommodate the six Lovatos and their extended family and friends.
Patrice says she and Walter loved the Cape, the old house, and the property, which was once part of an old cranberry farm. But in order to make the house workable, they needed to increase the number of bedrooms and square footage considerably. The challenge was how to do that without spoiling the historic and rural qualities of the property. No one wanted to tack a mansion onto the back of an 1817 farmhouse.
Because Footer lives in New York City and the Lovatos in San Francisco, Patrice asked for her sister's help. The designer started by introducing Patrice and Walter to Massachusetts architect Reed A. Morrison. "He has a great understanding of vernacular Cape Cod architecture and also modern design," Footer says.
He brought both aesthetics to the project, proposing the Lovatos renovate the existing old house and expand on its history with a barnlike addition. "The thought was, if you add a barn onto a house, it can be any size and look appropriate, and the existing residence would retain its small-house feel," Morrison says. The town's historic commission agreed, and the two-level lofted structure added about 2,665 square feet of living space that blends gracefully with the New England landscape.
The barn inspiration continues inside, as well. An open floor plan has the great room, kitchen, and dining room sharing a 32x65-foot space. A metal staircase leads to a loft, with a playroom and guest bedrooms. Wood plank ceilings accented by white-painted trusses peak at 25 feet. Skylights and large windows and doors facing all four exposures flood the interiors with light. "It is an open, expansive, barefoot kind of architecture," Footer says.
She and the contractor handpicked salvaged chestnut for floors, which adds warmth and connects the new addition to the house's past. "You can see the old nail holes; nothing was filled. It adds a lot of character," Footer says. "From the start, we wanted a sense that the house was part of a continuum--that it reflects the past but also embraces modern lifestyles simultaneously."
The kitchen is appropriately centered in the addition, with views to the porch, dining room, and great room. "This is an Italian family cooking, so the kitchen was central to that experience," Footer says. A massive 10x4-foot island is topped with a solid slab of two-inch-thick Calcutta Gold marble, providing visual weight. The island cabinets are fastened with chunky nickel latches that resemble those on vintage refrigerators. "Patrice was adamant about finding those," Footer says. "They're so tactile and have this sense of the 1920s that really appealed to her." Footer designed ribbed-glass light fixtures that hang on a nickel bar above the island. "The spheres are Murano glass, which ties back to the family's Italian heritage," she explains.
The old house was carefully renovated, right down to the foundation. Original floors were refinished and plaster ceilings were removed to expose the rough-hewn floor joists. "I love old houses," Patrice says. "Retaining the old house and as many old elements as we could was very important to us."
Footer tapped classic New England designs when furnishing rooms in the old house but often added fresh twists. Wing chairs by the fireplace in the keeping room are covered in a zippy green-and-white fabric that gives an updated look to a traditional flame-stitch design. Behind the settee are sea urchin-inspired lamps that share lighting duties with historical candle-style sconces.
Antiques that are reminders of the Lovatos' trips to Europe are spotted throughout the house, including metal shelves from an Amsterdam library and a dining table from a Paris flea market.
"That was part of the spirit of the house," Footer says. "They wanted to infuse it with their personalities, with Americana, with Europe, and with summer, yet not overpopulate it with stuff. In the end, the balance really came out wonderfully."
Photography: Werner Straube
Produced by Stacy Kunstel
Architect: Reed A. Morrison, Reed Morrison Architect, 113 Pond St., Osterville, MA 02655; 508/428-8379, reedmorrisonarchitect.com. Interior designer: Maureen Footer, Maureen Footer Design, 30 E. 95th St., Suite 7C, New York, NY 10128; 212/207-3400, maureenfooterdesign.com.
Builder: C.H. Newton Builders, 919 Main St., Osterville, MA 02655; 508/428-5528.
A two-tiered wood chandelier with a distressed finish hangs from a beam in the center of the great room--another nod to Italian design. Below that sits a boxy woven-fiber chaise longue that allows seating from both sides. Designer Maureen Footer also arranged cozy seating areas on either side of the chaise, each defined by nubby cream-colored rugs.
"I wanted to respect the space--not fill it up--and make it feel light, airy, and summery," Footer explains. "But in a space like that, furniture needs to have an impact, so we chose forms that are strong and clean." Footer maintained a consistent color palette, using "yards and yards and yards of a pale blue linen.
In the dining room, a French antique table is surrounded by Barton-Sharpe Windsor chairs painted an unexpected Benjamin Moore "Deep Mulberry." Small crystals are woven in wires of the ethereal Brand van Egmond chandelier. Antique shelves pop against a wall painted bright green.
The marble-topped island is centered in the addition. The work area has views of the porch and outdoors. Two stainless-steel Sub-Zero refrigerators with bottom freezers flank the center range. Behind the range wall is a walk-in pantry.
Folding doors between the covered and uncovered portions of the porch bring the outdoors in. Deck floors are ipe, a dense Brazilian hardwood. McKinnon and Harris outdoor furniture, handcrafted in America, is softened with cushions covered in durable Sunbrella fabrics.
Plaster ceilings were removed in the original rooms of the 1817 Cape Cod house, exposing upper-level floor joists. "Chimney Wing" chairs by Edward Ferrell are covered in a Brunschwig & Fils "Shaw" fabric, while a John Rosselli Hepplewhite settee cozies up to the fireplace.
A traditional painted canvas floorcloth mixes with a jazzy green-striped writing table. Both were handmade by the Alpha Workshops in New York City.
Twin beds tuck under the second-story eaves of the old house. The "Candystripe" rug from Stark was inspired by a Sister Parish design.
Twin boys can wash together with dual faucets and a trough sink from Kohler.
Above the great room, children can play undisturbed in a lofted space with a green-stained ash floor from LV Wood Floors.
A separate wing was added to the back of the original house for a master suite, with views outdoors. In a nod to the homeowner's Italian roots, reclaimed chestnut floors were stenciled with a Fortuny-inspired design. A John Rosselli chandelier hangs above the "Branwin" bed from Ironies.
A fresh blue-and-white palette is carried throughout the house, even in the master bath, where Urban Archaeology tiles accent the walls. Maureen Footer designed the vanity, which was executed by Waterworks.
The barn addition blends into the rural landscape and complements the historic house. A separate guest house sits at the back of the property.
In the tradition of itinerant painters, a New York decorative painter, Elizabeth Mandy, was commissioned to dress up walls in a powder room in the barn addition.
A separate old structure on the property was renovated as guest quarters.
Bleached wood walls and oculus windows on each end of the house keep the interior light. Shelves add height to the sitting area, furnished with Walters Wicker woven club chairs and an Avery Boardman sleeper sofa. Blue fabric on the seating is John Robshaw "Aleppo."
A bedroom opposite the sitting area has twin beds from John Himmel based on a Jean-Michel Frank design. Bed fabrics are John Robshaw linens.