A neglected rental house gets a glorious update with happy hues and beachy patterns. Step inside.
1 of 12Photo: Michael J. Lee
When a 1960s Cape Cod rental house came on the market in 2012, its tenants of two summers happily leapt at the opportunity. Though it lacked a bit of character and had become worn in appearance after years of hosting vacationing families, the location of the four-bedroom home—oceanfront and next door to the beach club—couldn't be beat.
Decorator Katie Rosenfeld advised against a lengthy tear-down project, but she and the owners agreed that a skin-deep spruce-up wouldn't cut it. The place needed personality—not to mention an updated kitchen and baths, room for guests, and lively furnishings that would stand up to wet suits, fresh sand, and bare feet. Here's how Rosenfeld gave the old Cape Cod cottage a new lease on life.
2 of 12Photo: Michael J. Lee
Dining Room Before
Before Rosenfeld worked her magic, the dining room featured original wood paneling and outdated furniture.
3 of 12Photo: Michael J. Lee
1. Dress Up The Dining Room
The home's mid-century soul shines in the details of the dining room, now awash in natural light. Rosenfeld painted the wood paneling white and paired a modern farmhouse table with sea grass-and-resin patio chairs upholstered in outdoor fabric. A sleek pendant lamp rounds out the contemporary space.
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2. Brighten the Palette
The Pop Art scheme of a Robert Mars collage inspired the designer's blend of hues, textures, and graphic patterns, while a white backdrop throughout keeps the look from appearing busy.
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3. Call on Nature
Natural materials like seagrass and driftwood speak to the nearby seaside, and the preserved wainscoting on walls befits the home's traditional New England setting.
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The original kitchen was functional, but was in need of an update.
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3. Bring the Kitchen Up to Date
The owner, an avid cook, decided the old 1960s cupboards had to go—along with mustard linoleum, wood-grain Formica, and black-fronted appliances. To keep the new look simple, she went with standard Shaker-style cabinets, Silestone counters, and a stainless steel range. White subway tiles unite the newly streamlined space.
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4. Take The Party Outdoors
Without adding to the footprint, Rosenfeld extended the home's entertaining space by almost 650 square feet by installing glass doors and bluestone patios adjacent to the living and dining rooms. Throwing doors and windows open, the family can now host 20 for an informal dinner, with half the party inside and half out, but "everyone still feels connected," says the designer.
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5. Roll Out the Cocktails
A space-saving alternative to a built-in bar, the dining room's drinks cart is movable, making it convenient for gatherings indoors or on the patio. The Schumacher Shanghai Peacock curtains reflect the home's retro roots.
10 of 12Photo: Michael J. Lee
Master Bedroom Before
The lackluster master bedroom was in need of a design renovation.
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6. Layer Color Over Neutrals
White furnishings allow bold colors and splashy prints to pop. In the downstairs master bedroom, a mélange of ivory tones is the ideal backdrop for art, accessories, and window shades in hot hues that liven up the room.
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7. Pile On the Patterns
"Patterns look best mixed with others; they don't sing as much surrounded by solids," Rosenfeld says. The proof is in this children's room, where there's a happy harmony among a wing chair's flowery print, a throw rug's zebra stripes, and bamboo-etched pillow shams, all in the same color palette.