A Loving Legacy 

Cape Cod Home  /  Early Summer 2023 /

Writer: Valerie Gates / Photographer: Somerby Jones 

A Loving Legacy 


Cape Cod Home  /  Early Summer 2023 /

Writer: Valerie Gates / Photographer: Somerby Jones 

Interior designer Stephanie King and Costello Fine Homes breathe life into a precious beach cottage.

This home has been loved.

That was the first impression interior designer Stephanie King and her father, Craig Bovaird had when they first stepped into the small seasonal cottage on Oliver Street in Mattapoisett. 

“Built in the 1930s, the cottage has a rich history and has seen its fair share of hurricanes, once being destroyed and rebuilt while other times withstanding damages, but surviving. Given its structural changes and challenges, the cottage languished on the market waiting for the perfect buyer who would look beyond that and see its pure charm,” remembers Craig. 

Craig is an engineer and entrepreneur who loves design, antiques, and buying old properties to renovate. Stephanie often teams up with him to create the interior designs for the projects he purchases. They found that they love working together, and this project presented as their next opportunity for another team collaboration. 

“When we first walked into the main living area and looked out the south facing windows, it was like sitting on a boat,” Craig recalls. “Nothing but water for 180 degrees and a magnificent view of Buzzards Bay, Ned’s Point Lighthouse, The Elizabeth Islands and the Upper Cape. It’s only 538 square feet; there were two tiny bedrooms with bunk beds, a small kitchen and a bathroom. The interior was rustic and frozen in time. It had been a well-loved seasonal summer cottage rental for generations of vacationers. The previous owners shared a guest register that dated from the 1970s to present day. They had grown up spending summers in the cottage and had kept the place intact for close to 50 years. By all accounts, people and families had enjoyed the special feeling of this iconic property for many years,” says Craig.

Now, the task to bring the nostalgic structure into the 21st century found Craig with only one name on his list: Tim Costello. Costello, principal of Costello Fine Homes has worked with Craig on multiple projects and luckily had a small window in his schedule to take on the renovation in time for the family to enjoy the cottage for the upcoming summer season. Costello gutted the structure, updated the mechanicals and winterized the cottage, allowing another 50 years of memories to take hold. He consolidated the two small bedrooms—to make a more spacious bedroom which now features a bunkbed nook and a larger double bed—and installed a new kitchen and bathroom. Throughout, Costello and his crew employed careful effort to provide the modern amenities the client wanted, all the while deliberately maintaining the rustic appeal of the original structure. “The cottage was in rough shape,” Costello confesses. “We wanted the final outcome to look great, and function well, but we definitely didn’t want it to look like a shiny new penny.” One of the ways Costello and his team achieved the time-honored ambiance in the cottage was to custom-make and install all the millwork and cabinetry found throughout the home, that now complements the original elements that were retained.

Stephanie took one look at the cracks in the walls, weathered grain in the beams, and the old-fashioned styled kitchen and knew that it would be perfect as a canvas for an Americana interior design renovation. She loved the nostalgic feel of the tiny cottage and wanted to create a space that was cozy, warm and breezy like “a moment of lying in the grass in a field with your eyes shut, feeling the sun.” Her experience sourcing mid-century furnishings came in handy as she began her search for vintage pieces for the cottage. 1stDibs, Chairish and InCollect became her online go-to for furniture and she also scoured the large antique malls of New Bedford, where she found many of the nautical touches such as the antique oars above the twin bunk beds. One of Stephanie’s often-used vendors, The Urban Electric Company from North Charleston, South Carolina created the handmade globe pendant above the dining table and other lighting fixtures in the cottage.

The color palette is very American—red, white and blue against white shiplap walls. Touches of natural wood ground the color scheme, from the period rattan dining set Stephanie sourced from Florida to the bamboo woven blinds found on almost all the windows. A red mid-century modern rocker and a blue striped chair counterbalance a grey-blue couch with bright red piping which folds out for extra guests. Red and blue patterned pillows frame the expansive view of the ocean from a long, cushioned window seat. An American flag is positioned by the dining table. Rattan mirrors hang on the wall. Perfect Americana.

The galley kitchen, designed by Will Saltonstall of Saltonstall Architects in Marion, was outfitted with a period-appropriate SMEG refrigerator in teal with more touches of teal found in the living room rug and the small stool, crowned by a plant which graces an open spot behind the couch. Giving an authentic sense of place to the oceanfront cottage, whimsical nautical items were added such as the collection of old boat paintings and a framed collection of sailors’ knots on the white walls—all found at local antique stores. An octopus carved into the light blue wooden screen door, custom-crafted by Costello’s millwork shop, welcomes guests into the little hideaway with open arms.

One of the original items found in the house was returned to its honored spot; a tangle of vines now wrap around the wooden ceiling beams in the living room, creating a floating orb suspended above the living room as it gives a nod to the breezy, casual summer beach cottage it was for over 50 years.

“With mindful design we wanted to recapture the original character and charm of this special place by paying attention to incorporating a nod to Americana-style and carefully sourcing antique pieces that complement the cottage’s long history. The contrast of textures like oak, teak and rattan are paired with vibrant colors and patterns, all set in cozy harmony with the large windows that nestle you into the natural surroundings,” Stephanie explains.

The small bedroom with a double bed and bunkbeds is just as charmingly decked out as the rest of the cottage in red, white and blue, with a few touches of teal. The bathroom has a period-perfect sink with a blue painted bottom, open wooden shelving for more seaworthy accents, and a random array of blue porcelain tile that mimics shards found along the nearby shorelines.

Outside, the side deck faces the beach with a red and white striped umbrella over a dining set and lounge chairs for taking in the sun and ocean breeze. As many in these parts know, sometimes that ocean breeze comes with more than a little bit of wind, so Yard Boss of Mattapoisett created a protected bluestone patio with a sunken, granite firepit surrounded by red Adirondack chairs as a retreat. Added bonus—the granite was unearthed by Costello’s crew while digging the foundation for the newly constructed foundation for the boat house designed by Saltonstall and built by Costello. An outdoor shower, a beach cottage necessity, is placed by the patio for more privacy. Protecting the patio on one side is an old shed that was washed away by Hurricane Bob in 1990, that was recovered, reset on the property, and aptly named The Boat House. The charming structure with a cupola, weathervane and two garage doors is used to store the kayaks, sailboat and beach toys. Upstairs is a loft with a pull-down ladder that will serve as a get-away place as the grandkids get older.

Stephanie’s love of interior design began early. She grew up in a post-and-beam home designed by her parents and therefore had design influences all around her from a young age. After graduating from Syracuse University, she cold-called top design firms across the country and was hired by Slifer Designs in Vail, Colorado. That large, world class firm designed mountain homes for the well-heeled, and shaped Stephanie’s first interior design sensibilities. As her career continued, she refined her skills and experiences by working all over the world for Slifer and later Amy Lau Design, a New York City firm that specialized in mid-century modern interior design. However, Stephanie longed for home after being away for so many years. She moved to Boston to work with Heather Wells Inc. and benefited from the architect’s eye, and acute sense of spatial awareness. It was there that Stephanie learned to work with the form and function aspect of architecture. Nine years later, Stephanie decided to go out on her own and launched Stephanie King Design, specializing in high-end residential interiors. Despite the in-demand career she has worked so hard to build, she says, there is always time to schedule her favorite clients’ projects—those of her father’s.

As versed as she is in the Americana and the mid-century modern look, Stephanie loves to design in all aesthetics for her clients, “a bit of everything to keep it interesting.” Many of her clients ask for pieces that have a patina and are imperfect rather than everlasting perfection—pieces that have “living finishes” that get better with time, like brass for example. “Ten years ago, no one was asking for brass accent pieces and now they are so popular they are hard to find. Clients are looking for items made in real materials such as teak, rattan and brass, vintage pieces that have been loved,” she shares.

This beach cottage has certainly been loved, and by bringing in equally-loved vintage items with a personality while updating the layout, a comfortably familiar new space has been created to be loved for many years to come.

Costello Fine Homes can be found at costellofinehomes.com and Stephanie’s interior design work can be found at stephaniekingdesign.com

Valerie Gates is a frequent contributor for Cape Cod Life Publications.