Tour This Tiny New England Beach Cottage
Open Shore Policy
"If this house ever comes on the market, we're buying it," said Dominic Cioffoletti of the postcard-perfect cottage he first spotted along the shore in Provincetown, Massachusetts, nearly a decade ago. He was trekking between the town's main beach and the summer rental he and his now-husband, Christopher Scinto, were sharing nearby when he spied the house tucked into the dunes, and that was it, he says: He was sold. Less than a week after the couple got a tip from a broker friend in the summer of 2013, so was the house.
"I got the call on a Wednesday, put in an offer—over the asking price, just to be safe—and had it wrapped up within a week," Cioffoletti recalls. Never mind that neither of the men had ever actually set foot inside, or that the compact, 850-square-foot floor plan was nearly half the size of the freshly renovated beach place they'd be vacating. "It's just such a unique, special house, I knew that if it hit the market it would go in a second," says Cioffoletti.
Get the look: Bedside sconces (like these in antique brass) save space in small bedrooms. The bed is by Mainly Baskets.
Located in a private corner of Delft Haven—a storybook 1930s vacation colony in Provincetown's historic West End—the two-bedroom charmer boasted all the hallmarks of a classic Cape Cod (cedar shingles, wooden shutters). It was also brimming with character: Horizontal shiplap wainscot wraps the walls in the living room, exposed ceiling beams appear throughout, and an old brick fireplace lends patina to the small dining room.
Get the look: By replacing windows with glass-paned doors on either side of the fireplace, the dining area became better connected to the entertaining deck. The frosted star pendant above the table is by Visual Comfort. The oil painting is vintage.
With all of its positive attributes, though, the cottage had room for improvement, so the pair enlisted the help of Herbert Acevedo and Kevin Miller of Provincetown's Shor Home to maximize its potential. Along with needing a new roof and shingles, for instance, the house was missing out on an opportunity to capture the beautiful natural light for which the location is known.
Get the look: The trim is painted Super White, and the shutters are painted Chrome Green, both by Benjamin Moore.
"One of the things that makes this area so special is that you have water on three sides of you," Scinto says. "The early morning and late afternoon light here is unbelievable—it's what has made Provincetown a haven for artists, painters, and photographers for ages." The team installed French doors in the master bedroom and on either side of the fireplace in the dining room where small windows used to be—a change that delivered more natural light and allowed easier access to the deck from both rooms.
Get the look: The table and chairs are by JANUS et Cie.
They replaced light-blocking A/C units with central air, whitewashed the yellowed, wide-plank floors, and painted the fireplace surround and ceiling beams white to reflect the coastal sunlight. In the galley kitchen, however, the two took their color cues from existing navy quartz Silestone countertops and painted the open shelving and lower cabinets deep blue. "It gives that small kitchen depth and drama, like diving into the cool, deep blue sea," says Acevedo.
Get the look: The kitchen cabinetry, shelving, and trim are painted Stiffkey Blue by Farrow & Ball.
Furniture and art the couple have collected over the years pepper the newly brightened rooms. For instance, a tight-back sofa upholstered in a linen-cotton blend anchors the seating area in the living room. "I've always loved this sofa because it's beautiful, but so comfortable I can take a nap on it," says Scinto.
In the master bedroom, an antique oyster-veneer chest and gilt-framed bunny painting by Hunt Slonem imbue the space with history. "We've hung Slonem's paintings in every house we've had, so they're very representative of our life together," Scinto adds. "They make this cottage feel like an extension of us, and of the other places we've lived." Subtle nautical references also appear throughout, like rope-wrapped glass buoys displayed on the mantel, a star-shaped pendant above the dining table that recalls the age-old symbol of sailors' guiding lights, and repurposed boat cleats for hanging jackets and dog leashes near the front door.
Get the look: The master bedroom is wallpapered in grasscloth. A custom mosaic mirror reflects a bunny painting by Hunt Slonem. The bed is by Ficks Reed.
With the indoor/outdoor setup, the house lives surprisingly large, Cioffoletti says. The couple expanded and upgraded the existing mahogany deck and outdoor area with a reinforced retaining wall, bench seating, a walk-through shower flanked by swinging, saloon-style doors, and a foot-wash station for friends who frequently stop in on their way to and from the beach. "It's become the "drop-by place,"" Scinto says with a laugh. "The fact that people come by—and feel comfortable doing so—is really very gratifying." Cioffoletti agrees: "In the months that you can be outside, it never feels small. We've hosted Thanksgiving here every year since we moved in. We'll sit outside with a hot drink and a jacket, and it's beautiful."
No matter the season (or the head count), the cottage has also brought the pair an enduring sense of gratitude. "I never really thought I was going to own a place on the beach," says Scinto. "I can't believe that I get to wake up every morning and have my coffee right here—I don't really want for much more."
Little Rooms, Big Idea
The Shor Home designers' clever tricks for tight quarters
Keep It Simple. In the living room, the designers kept the fabric patterns minimal, and put a greater focus on varied textures "so that your eye doesn't bounce all over the place," says Acevedo. Their go-to materials: sisal, linen, and leather.
Create Continuity. Seamless transitions between rooms visually enlarge the home. Here, the designers extended the living room's existing horizontal shiplap wainscoting throughout the house and painted that woodwork and the ceilings Decorators White by Benjamin Moore.
Choose Double-Duty Furniture. The couple's leather-upholstered dining chairs can shift easily from the table to the living room; the antique bachelor's chest in the master bedroom serves as a nightstand while offering plenty of extra storage.