A Carefree Chatham Summer Cottage
June 3, 2020
Text by Paula M. Bodah Photography by Michael J. Lee
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Experts may argue about who said it first (Leonardo da Vinci? Clare Boothe Luce? Steve Jobs?), but few of us would disagree with the sentiment. Certainly not interior designer Annsley McAleer—or her clients, the owners of this Chatham summer home.
The house started out as a classic shingled cottage. “It’s very sweet, with lower ceilings and pretty pine floors,” McAleer says about the original part of the dwelling. A previous owner had added on, creating a formal dining room, a new kitchen and family room, and a master bedroom. These newer spaces had the advantage of high ceilings, McAleer says, but decorative arches made those lofty ceilings feel lower. The designer’s first move was to strip away the weighty details, giving the home its current airy look and feel.
McAleer used a light—yet fearless—touch with the decorating. In the dining room, for example, she added considerable punch with Lotus wallpaper from Galbraith & Paul. While the oversize botanical pattern might have overwhelmed a smaller space, here it makes a spirited companion to the clean white walls and ceiling and the broad expanse of windows overlooking the backyard. In another bold move, McAleer introduced a second pattern, this one on a smaller scale and in a deeper shade of blue, in the fabric on the dining chairs. “When the chairs arrived, and we put them in the room with the wall-paper, it kind of took our breath away,” she says. “It’s just the right amount of pattern, and the colors are perfect together.”
The designer obliged the homeowner’s love of blue throughout the home. In the den, a marine-blue sofa is joined by twin lounge chairs clad in a knockout fabric of navy and white embellished with turquoise embroidery.
The palette softens to barely there in the master bedroom, where a whitewashed wood chandelier hovers over a bed outfitted in the palest blue-green linens, and the walls wear little more than a whisper of seafoam green.
McAleer’s deft treatment has returned the house to its origins as a summer place that, in its simplicity, is simply perfect.
Interior and architectural design: Annsley McAleer, Annsley Interiors
Builder: Ed Lacey, E. Lacey Jr. Restoration and Remodeling