Explore a Cape Cod Home Where Vintage and Color is Celebrated

May 19, 2023

Nods to nature and to the past combine with fearless colors for a Cape Cod home that’s a lesson in layers.

Text by Erika Ayn Finch     Photography by Greg Premru    Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent

Some homeowners give their design team free rein during a remodel. Others, like Douglas Whitla and Jocelyn Chiappone’s clients, have done their homework.

After several years of vacationing in their waterfront home (and decades of summers spent in the area), the clients, a couple with three grown children, decided it was time to renovate their midcentury-built residence. They first reached out to Whitla, who they had known socially for years. Whitla connected them with Chiappone and her team at Digs Design Company, and the wife showed up prepared, pecky cypress photos and all.

“Jocelyn and I connected right away,” says the homeowner. “I had a strong sense of what I wanted in our new/old home, and she and her team were geniuses at bringing me rich, beautiful colors and textures and incorporating that classic Cape feel with a bit of edge. I told her I wanted sea captain meets ‘classic cool,’ and she nailed it.”

“Our client knew exactly how she wanted the house to feel,” confirms Chiappone. “She had a vision for it as a whole, but she imagined each room as having its own story. It was our task to bring that to life. What a rewarding experience to pay tribute to decades of family history while simultaneously expressing the modern, personal style of the current generation. This is a one-of-a-kind project that I’ll never forget.”

Though they might have had a specific vision for the house, the clients were open to taking risks. That included incorporating pecky cypress paneling on the walls of the living room and study. Pecky cypress isn’t common in New England, says Whitla. It’s more often found in the South, and its essentially wood riddled with knots and holes that have been filled with, in this case, plaster, lending the paneling a painterly appearance. “It was a learning process,” says Whitla, “but it’s one of my favorite aspects of the house. It reminds me of ’40s or ’50s Florida.” (Not surprisingly, the homeowner’s Pinterest page included photos of designer Tom Scheerer’s projects in the Bahamas, which feature the paneling.)

Quirky details and tributes to the home’s midcentury origins topped the couple’s wish list. Chiappone obliged with elements like flat-front and Shaker cabinetry in the kitchen, a vintage bamboo hat rack in the mudroom, doses of rattan and wicker throughout, an aged-mahogany countertop on the bar, and even an homage to a local band in the guest bath.

Taken down to its foundation during the remodel, the house was reimagined as a series of separate rooms with distinct purposes rather than an open floor plan. A pool house and a garage with guest quarters above were also added. “The natural elements form the cohesive line between the rooms,” explains Chiappone.

That might be most evident in the room she calls the “informal formal living room,” where pecky cypress paneling pairs with an abaca rug and floral Scalamandré upholstery on the sectional, chairs, and window coverings. After a process of trial and error, the design team landed on Benjamin Moore Arugula for the window frames. “Sometimes you have to find a color you love rather than one that matches exactly,” Chiappone says.

The bold shade of green is just one of the reasons why the wife includes the living room as a favorite spot in the house. “In the summer, there’s no place like our porch—or the kitchen table—with all the windows thrown open wide,” she says. “It feels like you’re sitting on the bow of a boat, looking over the water. But in the off-season, curling up in front of the fireplace on the big sofas Jocelyn designed, surrounded by the pecky cypress walls that were a joint creation by Jocelyn’s and Doug’s teams, is something that can’t be beat.”

Project Team
Architecture: DSK | Dewing Schmid Kearns
Interior design: Digs Design Company
Builder: Whitla Brothers Builders
Landscape design: Philip L. Cheney

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