Tour Our 2017 Newport Idea House!
The New Traditional
Traditionalism is not without its surprises. Preppy checks can dance across ceilings, and sandy SoCal surf photos can sub in for seascapes (on a groovy gallery wall in the basement, by the way). Classic decorators like Mark D. Sikes do abide by a set of rules, but they are his rules. And even in the old New England town of Newport, the site of this year's Idea House, those rules are both beautifully familiar and refreshingly new.
The California designer teamed up with Newport-based builder Mark Horan and architect Alec R. Tesa to build the 5,276- square-foot cedar-and-shiplap home along Newport's Easton Bay. "The lot itself is incredible," notes Horan. "It's directly across the water from Newport's famed mansions. To the north is First Beach, which is a popular spot for paddleboarders in the summer, and to the south is where the bay opens to the Atlantic. So we wanted to build something really special here."
Horan and Tesa wove in vernacular elements like wooden shingles, a hipped roof, and mortise-and-tenon joinery, all emblematic of historic Newport architecture. "Even the flared brackets are a bit of a throwback to the Gilded Age," notes Tesa. Inside and out, classic style and well-established themes mingle with contemporary materials and new ideas. Here, a look at the team's secrets to blowing the doors off today's traditional design.
Don’t overthink the great room.
They are a new beach house standard: open-layout great rooms that combine living, dining, and kitchen. They are designed to keep walls from dividing the crowd and blocking the views, but decorating these immense spaces can be tricky. "The key is to keep it simple," says Sikes. "Ensuring each room relates well to the others and appears cohesive is always my top priority." Here, he kept the palette very light, first with the white shiplap walls and trim, and then in the ivory furniture piped in navy welting. "Then I layered in classic dark-wood occasional pieces, like the elmwood coffee table, and blue batik and check patterns. These not only add plenty of visual interest, they help the space connect with the adjacent rooms."
Sliding French doors by Marvin open the living room to the front porch and Newport's Easton Bay. The upholstered furniture is by Lee Industries. Opposite: A hipped red cedar portico and mahogany front door extend a classic welcome to the waterfront home. The antique bronze porch lights are by Carolina Lanterns, and the decking and trim are by AZEK. The table and floor lamps are by Circa Lighting, and the drapery fabric is by Quadrille. The rug is by Merida Studio, and the coffee table is by Henredon. The trim and walls are painted Wimborne White, and the ceiling is painted Cabbage White, both by Farrow & Ball. The rattan tables are by Serena & Lily.
Colorblock the cabinetry.
Light upper cabinetry, subway tiles, and quartz counters make the kitchen appear almost weightless. "It's a classic look, very easy on the eye," says Sikes. He painted the lower cabinetry a rich royal blue, and then added two style showstoppers: bobbin-framed ebonized rush barstools and, above the windows, a blue-and-white Roman shade, which ties the cabinetry color scheme together.
The lighting is by Circa Lighting, and the sink fixtures are by Delta Faucet. The backsplash tile is by Fireclay Tile. The cabinetry is by Wellborn Cabinet, Inc., with quartz and wooden counters by Cambria and Zuerner Design, respectively. The windows are by Marvin. The shade fabric is by Hill Brown, with trim by Samuel & Sons. The table and stools are by Aesthetic.
Dress a tiny room to the nines.
The butler's pantry is like a pattern playground next to the kitchen's straightforward solids. "I see it as a little jewel of a room," says Sikes. Slim vertical stripes replace the kitchen's white tile, and a medallion-print Quadrille wallpaper caps the room like a stylish top hat. Even the shade has a playful pom-pom trim.
Reassign hosting duties.
Can an informal nook step in for its older, more formal cousin? Sure: here, the dining area off the kitchen feels intimate enough for everyday meals (and super cozy), but it can handle a larger crowd. The African mahogany table seats up to eight when extended. Sikes outfitted the chandelier with a custom floral shade—talk about dressing for dinner!
Rock a superb center hall.
"The cobalt striped walls are designed to connect the whole house, from the basement stairwell all the way up to the tower," says Sikes. "The idea is that each room has its own palette and patterns, but they all relate back to this common center." Natural light pours into this second-floor landing through a porthole window and a skylight, illuminating a geometric artwork series in the stairwell.
The wallpaper is a custom stripe by Farrow & Ball. The lanterns are by Circa Lighting. The skylight and navy shade are by Velux, and the porthole window is by Marvin. The artwork is by Wendover Art Group. The chair is by Lee Industries, and the mirror is by Oomph. The planter is by Hayneedle.
"I think good powder rooms can lean a little wild, so we really deepened the blues and went a bit more exotic with the Quadrille ikat wallpaper," says Sikes. He hung a rattan mirror to give the room a layer of natural texture, and then added a single glass cone vanity sconce. "It's very simple in form, which makes it perfect against all of that pattern."
More than a place to hang your hat: Sikes doubled down on the saturated blues in the back corridor leading from the garage (just outside the powder room) with deep navy shiplap walls and a built-in bench. Outfitted with a linen cushion and throw pillows, plus iron wall hooks for stowing beach and dog gear, the short pass-through gains boatloads of nautical gravitas.
Aim for scale.
The guest bedroom is tiny, just 12 feet square. "I loved this spindle bed for a space of this size—it commands the room," says Sikes, who further scaled up with the paisley medallion–patterned wallpaper. On the bed, he layered striped linens with embroidered pillows and a tasseled throw. "It's important to use blankets and textiles with varying fabrications," he notes.
Revive the check print.
This fun kid's room is actually deceptively simple, says Sikes. "It's designed around three big ideas: the checks, the daybeds, and the art," he explains. The designer chose the sofa-like daybeds over conventional twins to make it feel more like a lounge, and upholstered the walls and ceiling in a navy buffalo check. The modern art is a clever way to update the traditional pattern.
The trundle beds, desk chair, and ottomans are by Lee Industries, and the wall and window fabric is by Quadrille. The windows are by Marvin; the lighting is by Circa Lighting. The rugs are by Merida Studio. The artwork is by Wendover Art Group, Kayce Hughes, and Kate Schelter.
Do classic botanicals in a new way.
"I see this lattice wallpaper as the feminine version of the check in the boy's room," says Sikes, who used a white wicker headboard, an ivory dresser, and a botanical art series (24 pieces mounted in white matting and frames) to help lighten the dark blue patterned walls. The floral coverlet fabric is repeated on the draperies and trimmed in barrel-knot fringe.
In the girl's room, the wallpaper and drapery/coverlet fabric is by Quadrille. The bed is by Serena & Lily. The bedside tables and dresser are from the Coastal Living Oasis collection by Stanley Furniture. The window is by Marvin, and the botanicals are by Wendover Art Group.
Colormatch the sea.
The master bedroom is on the southwestern corner of the house, where the bay feeds out into the Atlantic. "The room is so oriented toward the sea that the design became as much about the water as anything else," says Sikes. He upholstered the walls in a floral vine print (of his own design) that harmonizes with the water, and chose a drapery pattern in a similar blue but "that has a little more air," he explains. "That's why they work so well together."
Throughout the master suite, the upholstered furniture is by Lee Industries, the lighting is by Circa Lighting, and the windows are by Marvin. The wallpaper, draperies, shams, and lumbar pillow are by Schumacher, and the wallpaper trim is by Samuel & Sons. The bedding is by Matouk, and the shades are by Horizons Window Fashions.
A five-foot oval soaking tub sits under a double window bank in the master bath. For a fresh spin on stripes, Sikes hired Northeast artist Kathryn Piscuskas to paint trim and window borders that echo the striped tile arrangement on the floor. The tub filler is polished nickel.
Master Sitting Room
The striped walls and crisp white seating in the master sitting room are upholstered in weather-resistant fabric and piped in marine blue trim.
The upholstery, cushion, and pillow fabrics are by Sunbrella, and the walls are covered in a Robert Allen stripe for Sunbrella. The rug is a custom Sunbrella rug by Colonial Mills. The side table, coffee table, and chairs are by Henredon. The artwork is by Catherine Booker Jones.
Behold, the summerhouse closet: This one was designed with plenty of natural light, along with storage that keeps clothing and shoes in sight.
The closet shelving and organization are by The Container Store.
Let in the sun.
A trio of skylights and a series of casement windows wrapping the room on three sides make the third-floor loft a prime spot for a studio. Sikes anchored the space with a whitewashed central work table, natural armchairs, and an upholstered ottoman, and then added in a rattan daybed to allow it to double as super-private guest quarters.
Throughout, the windows are by Marvin, and the lighting is by Circa Lighting. The skylights are by Velux, and the ottoman is by Lee Industries. The daybed and table are by Serena & Lily. The rugs are by Merida Studio. The chairs are from Sikes's collection for Henredon.
Create a suite deal.
A full bath and a kitchenette (not shown) ensure the loft functions like a breezy studio apartment. French blue patterned wallpaper, a quartz-topped vanity, and a rattan mirror continue the blue, white, and natural palette of the adjoining room. The sconce is bronze and white glass, and the faucet hardware is chrome.
Protect your perch.
The studio steps out to a roof deck that overlooks Easton Bay. "This house is very exposed to the sea, so we chose materials that can really stand up to the elements," says Horan of the cedar shingles, composite trim and decking, and blue casement windows. The sectional fabric and rug are also made from weather-resistant materials.
The deck and railing are by AZEK. The sectional is by Lloyd Flanders, and the fabric is by Sunbrella. The rug is by Dash & Albert; the garden stools are from Overstock. The accessories are by Garnet Hill and Williams-Sonoma Home.
Turn game rooms into style icons.
These come-one, come-all party hubs are due for an image overhaul. (Navy felting on the pool table, anyone?) "My approach to the basement was to make it so cozy and functional that it lures everyone downstairs," says Sikes, who designed an ultra stylish banquette to wrap a pair of walnut-and-steel pedestal game tables, and then added Parisian blue leather armchairs for extra seating.
Bring on the Netflix binge.
This room is House of Cards ready. A cotton sectional with linen piping and an upholstered armchair invite plenty of full-series lounging in the basement media room. Behind it, a gallery wall mixes abstracts by Kayce Hughes with contemporary East-meets-West-Coast beach scenes by photographer Matt Albiani. "Glass doors are a nice way to break up a large room without separating the spaces entirely," notes Sikes.
Find your yacht club swagger.
Classic East Coast style doesn't get more polished than white wicker, crisp cabana stripes, and potted hydrangeas and boxwood. Everything from the seating and cushion fabric to the scalloped blue awning is weather-resistant, so it'll keep its shine. Here's more on the outdoor lounges, dining room, and pool, which add an additional 1,000 square feet of breezy living space.
The patio is crafted of concrete pavers that resemble bluestone. Sweeney varied the sizes and colors, and set them at a 45-degree bias "for a slightly more formal look," he notes.
The windows and doors are by Marvin, and the railing is by AZEK. The pavers and fire pit are by Belgard. The furniture is by Lloyd Flanders, and the fabric is by Sunbrella. The lighting is by Carolina Lanterns.
Wicker chaise longues and bluestone coping line the 10- by 37-foot swimming pool. Sweeney planted "Fastigiata" boxwood behind it to create an evergreen privacy wall.
Colonial Street Style
Concrete fire pit pavers mimic the classic look of cobblestones, which are common in Newport. The deep-seating lounge chairs feature a delicate woven center cutout.
Raise a Toast
On the dining terrace, a woven oval table is fitted with tempered glass and paired with petite armchairs for intimate outdoor dinners.
Dining + Reading Nook
Give rooms a little leeway by finessing the finer details.
"I always look for ways to give a room some flexibility," says Sikes. "I think you get the most use out of spaces if a bit of variation is built into them." Here are four spots that double up on practicality.
Horan and Sikes added a built-in bench along one wall of the dining room. With a comfy cushion and throw pillows, it's a sweet spot to stretch out.
Media Lounge + Library
Lacquered blue bookcases stretch across a single wall in the media room, giving the subterranean seating area the tucked-away feel of a cozy—and well-appointed—library.
Bedroom + Writing Corner
Studio + Guest Quarters
A rattan daybed is casual seating (and napping!) by day, guest bed by night. "Rooms with standout views should be extra versatile," says Sikes.
The rattan daybed is by Serena & Lily; the cushion fabric is by Schumacher; the rug is by Merida Studio; the pillows are by Carolina Irving Textiles, Raoul Textiles, and Lisa Fine Textiles; and the trim is by Samuel & Sons.