Energizing an unremarkable property led to a cozy, fun weekend retreat
The sum of Hiroko and Harry Lange's weekend getaway was even less than its awkward parts. In fact, there was nothing remarkable about the existing Marblehead, Massachusetts, structure.
Originally a modest, two-story Cape Cod built in the 1960s, the house had acquired a series of unrelated additions that increased its size but decreased its livability and charm. Harry and Hiroko, whose primary home is in Boston, knew the house would require extensive renovation. They sought the talent of Boston design team Dee Elms and Andrew Terrat along with architect Ron Margolis to turn the hodgepodge of architecture and decor into the best it could be--a grand house on the water.
"None of the additions related to what already existed," says Elms. "The variety of tastes and styles made it feel like you were walking into several completely different houses. It was Andrew's and my job to create a harmonious relationship."
What made the effort of the vast redo worthwhile was the house's choice location at the entrance to Marblehead Neck, a narrow causeway leading from the historic harbor town to a hilly enclave surrounded by water. In 2006, when the Langes bought the house, they decided to follow the footprints of generations of Bostonians who have summered on Marblehead Neck, taking advantage of its sandy beaches and views of the Boston skyline.
"This house was in a special location, with its beach and views of the Boston skyline," says Harry. "We loved the idea that we could be in such a beautiful spot in 30 minutes."
Besides establishing coherence between the original home and additions, Terrat wanted "to make the house look more like its neighbors." To that end, various architectural elements, including a new facade and a flagstone walkway, were created. Other touches--irregular outlines unified by cedar shingles, an eyebrow window, and an informal summerhouse attitude--were bestowed to help the house speak in shingle-style vernacular.
When the crew first stepped into the white entry hall, they knew they had to energize the home's ho-hum greeting. They did so by inserting gold grasscloth into existing wall panels, placing an oak chest against one wall, and hanging a chandelier.
In the great room, generous proportions enabled the team to carve out individual seating areas for conversing, watching television, and working. But first, architectural interest needed to be added. Sheathed in white horizontal shiplap paneling, the walls offer subtle texture and unify the space. A pair of sofas slipcovered in white cotton duck direct attention to the television on a newly added wall. To balance the architectural pizzazz of the front wall, heavy woodwork on the staircase and upper story bridge was replaced with a stainless-steel cable system that introduces a contemporary flair.
"The great room was huge, so just having a sofa and chair in the middle never would work," explains Elms. "In fact, the room is carefully arranged so it can accommodate a number of different activities simultaneously."
Elms and Terrat escorted the large kitchen from dark and dreary to warm and cheery with a bright palette of lipstick red and ivory. And they followed the same process they used in the adjoining great room--architecture first. An added coffered ceiling features beadboard panels and a recessed light within each coffer. The island, once a hulking presence in the center of the room, is now augmented with low banquettes upholstered and cushioned in cheerful red-and-white check.
The Langes' updated seaside abode makes the couple long for weekends. "We are thrilled with the way the project turned out," says Harry. "Now our home is comfortable, cozy, and fun--we love to entertain our friends so they can enjoy it, too."
Photography: Gordon Beall
Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick
Architect: Ron Margolis, Margolis & Fishman Inc., 955 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139; 617/492-0200.
Interior design: Dee Elms and Andrew Terrat, Terrat Elms Interior Design, 535 Albany St., 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02118; 617/451-1555, terratelms.com.
Contractor: Groom Construction Co., 96 Swampscott Rd., Salem, MA 01970; 781/592-3135.
In the foyer, a chandelier by Oly, a striped rug by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, a buffet by Crate & Barrel, and a mirror by John Rosselli amplify the summery colors of water and sunshine.
The size of the great room makes it useful for various activities--from TV watching on the Bang & Olufsen entertainment system that sits on a console by Oly, to working--with separate seating areas.
The great room's window seat beckons with a cushion covered in Cowtan & Tout's polka-dot fabric.
A wood urn stands tall in the great room.
An oak kitchen table by Crate & Barrel mixes it up with a matching bench on one side and comfortable upholstered chairs by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams on the other.
Red-checked cushions in Ralph Lauren Home fabric, with pillows in striped fabric by Donghia, make the kitchen banquette a cheerful place to curl up and relax.
In the kitchen sitting area, the designers replaced a dark fireplace surround with sand-colored marble, placed the TV into the recessed overmantel, and drew up two modern wing chairs to create a friendly nook with Hiroko's beloved lipstick-red walls as a backdrop.
The master bedroom's centerpiece is an iron bed by Niermann Weeks. Adding extra seating are an armchair and ottoman in a corner and two stools at the foot of the bed, all by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
Crisscross- and trellis-patterned fabric and wallpaper, both from China Seas, envelop the master bedroom in soft pink.
A wall of "Mardale" red floral wallpaper by Cowtan & Tout enlivens the otherwise neutral master bath.
The cabana room was formerly a small, land-locked room without easy access. Designers Terrat and Elms gave it new life by widening its access to the front hall with a pocket door and opening the back wall onto the rear deck via a sliding glass door. The tented walls lend a feeling of being outdoors.
Lounge chairs are arranged to take advantage of the ocean view.
On the terrace, red paper lanterns are a chic source of light after sunset.
The facade of the Langes' home was enhanced with architectural details.