Tour a Charming Coastal Guest Cottage

April 25, 2024

A seaside cottage is updated to welcome family and friends in summer and beyond.

Text by Gail Ravgiala    Photography by Joshua McHugh

With an expanse of open porch meant for lazy summer afternoons taking in ocean views and cool breezes, a pitcher of lemonade at the ready, this cottage speaks to traditional New England understatement. “It’s an elegant house, simply but beautifully detailed, reminiscent of a beach shack,” says architect Thomas A. Kligerman, who designed the one-story structure in 2008.

Part of a larger property, the 2,250-square-foot, three-bedroom house is used as guest quarters, explains interior designer Terri Ricci, who worked with Kligerman on the initial plan. Since then, she has regularly collaborated with the owners to update the space to meet their changing needs.

Laid out in an L-shape, the house, built by J.G. Early, has two wings. One features that idyllic porch running along its facade. Inside, under a vaulted ceiling of white painted-wood slats framed by stained fir beams, is the open living, dining, and kitchen spaces. The other leg of the L is to the rear and houses the bedroom suites and a changing room connected to an outdoor shower. The bedrooms, accessed via a second porch that runs along one side of the wing, required occupants to step outdoors to go from the public to the private spaces. As the family matured and more guests began occupying the house during the offseason, the design team was asked to enclose the porch to make it more practical for year-round use.

At the same time, Ricci outlined an updated plan for the kitchen. The clients wanted the space to be lighter, brighter, and more inviting as a gathering place. “We kept the same footprint, but we softened the tones,” says the designer. Martha’s Vineyard Construction Company was tapped to strip and bleach dark-stained walnut cabinets. Seating was added at the island, and heavy granite countertops were replaced with honed white Calacatta marble. Plaster applied to the ceiling and exhaust hood increased texture. The walnut Stillmade dining table was surrounded by vintage midcentury modern chairs.

The living room is a carefully curated balance of old and new. “We purposely mixed an Italian modern linen sofa and modern lantern-style wall sconces with classic Hans J. Wegner chairs and an antique metal pie cabinet,” says Ricci. The result is a comfortable, sophisticated setting with a sense of history—real or imagined. Floor-to-ceiling double-hung windows, much like those used on historic southern manses, “give the house a summer feel year-round,” says Ricci.

Similar classic-style windows were used to enclose the rear porch, creating a protected corridor that maintains an outdoor sensibility thanks to an interior wall still sheathed in exterior shingles and a bluestone floor impervious to wet and sandy feet. The windows, which are left open as weather permits, assure there is plenty of natural light.

“How people use a house and its spaces changes with time and how the family grows,” says Ricci. And while the cottage will no doubt continue to be adapted to the evolving needs of her clients, she says, “In this latest iteration, this house has found itself.”

Project Team
Architecture: Kligerman Architecture & Design
Interior design: Terri Ricci Interiors
Builders: J.G Early Contractor and Builder and Martha’s Vineyard Construction Company

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