By Elizabeth Raines Beeler
August 24, 2005
Jean Allsopp

"This house is all about form and proportion, not fancy detailing," Norman says. "It's gutsy." The great room serves as a central gathering space and the cottage's architectural stronghold.

The design team used a variety of building materials indicative of the English style. Tongue-and-groove poplar boards and white-painted beams add coastal character to the room's vaulted ceiling. Textured stucco walls meet French limestone flooring. "The design is not meant to be fussy, which is why you don't see moldings. It's about the surfaces," explains Clay.

Painted windows recall leaded, metal versions that originated in Europe. "Having windows on at least two walls allows light to come in from opposing directions," explains Clay. "It changes the way the room looks during the day and adds a layer of complexity to the space." On the 10- by 8-foot window, the panes are small, a trademark of English style. "We enlarged them as we approached the courtyard to give the space a greater connection to the outdoor room," says Stan of the alternating French doors and tilt-turn windows. For draperies on one wall, Jackye pieced two linen fabrics together horizontally, creating a striped, cabana effect. "Solid fabric would have lost its impact," she says. "If the stripes were vertical, it would have made the window look even taller." She reversed the theme for the opposite wall's roman shades, giving them vertical stripes.

To complement the overall architecture, Jackye looked to the beach. "The approach was to feel the coast: the boats, the shells, the water," she says. Opting for a neutral scheme, she developed the great room interiors around distressed white wood furniture with light beige, cream, and white upholstery. "The new pieces look like you had them forever and just painted them," says Jackye. Mixing designer pieces with antiques further added to the home's period look.

The placement of the furnishings and accessories defines the areas within the large room. An antique model ship divides the living area and dining space, where a honey-finished table softly contrasts nearby whitewashed pieces. The round table introduces curves into the linear space, and upholstered dining chairs echo the movement with undulating lines.

Living area furnishings―a sofa and side chairs, and an antique coffee table―circle in front of a wood-burning fireplace. Identical chests lend symmetry to the arrangement. To make the furniture layout flexible, Jackye centered the chandelier in lieu of traditional placement above the dining room table.