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Big Changes on Little Harbor

In a high-style redesign, a home finally takes advantage of its views.

The stately home across from Cohasset’s Little Harbor had potential for tremendous views out to the water. But it wasn’t taking advantage of them. Sightlines in the house consigned its owners to catching a sliver of blue here and there, kind of by accident. They wanted more.

It was also time for an interior design overhaul. “Robin first decorated the house in 2007,” says homeowner Helen Arnold, referring to Robin Pelissier, principal of Robin Pelissier Design. “It had been 13, 14 years. We wanted a refresh.” 

Additionally, Arnold and her husband, Ethan, wanted to re-envision the house to some degree, with more space in the dining room, an attic office, another bathroom on the second floor, and the conversion of an octagonally shaped screened-in porch into interior space that flowed seamlessly from the family room.

Interior designer Robin Pelissier’s choice of nuanced blues and subtly patterned wallpaper for the entryway create a soft “landing” at the front door.

To make the changes, the couple, who have been together since they were high school sweethearts, and today have three children in their 20s, brought in Pelissier and architect Sally Weston of Sally Weston Associates

For Weston, one of the first orders of business was creating a sightline out to the water from the mudroom at the back of the house. “You had no sense of the view before,” she says. “You entered the mudroom and looked at the stairs. There were transom windows in the front door, but they were too high up to see out of. It was also all at a very odd angle.”

Weston not only corrected for the problem by putting in a large door filled with glazing and bordered by side lights, but she also opened up the space by pushing one of the walls to the side a little and thereby expanding the width of the hall. All that was lost was a little space in the entryway powder room, which looked too long and narrow before, anyway. 

Along with converting the octagonally-shaped screened-in porch to an interior sunroom, architect Sally Weston doubled the owners’ pleasure by creating an octagonal sitting room above it, right next to the primary bedroom.

There were also what Weston calls “jigs and jogs” in the entryway space “that didn’t make a lot of sense. We were able to make a huge pantry out of it,” she says. With cabinetry designed by Weston and built by Faneuil Kitchen Cabinet of Hingham, the new pantry provides both extra storage and great circulation from the kitchen.

Pelissier worked her magic in the newly created spaces by keeping things light, delicate. “The house has a sturdy, hardy, well-built feel,” she says. “It connotes strength—the beautiful heavy columns, the weight of all the board and batten and other wood details, along with combinations of stone and wood. Even the landscaping details are relatively heavy, with bountiful, blooming trees. My aim was to offset a lot of the heaviness in order to complement and serve as a balance to what was already there, to soften the bold build. The house also has almost an arts and crafts quality to it, which I wanted to pay homage to.”

Pelissier warmed up the cool blue of the seating in the downstairs octagon with the glow of yellow accent pieces.

With that in mind, she chose an easy-on-the-eye wallpaper for the front hallway called Pure Dove & Rose by Morris & Co. It has a William Morris design but with lighter and brighter colors. “I felt this choice would be more complementary to its surroundings,” Pelissier explains. Pelissier also livened up the front hallway with Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray for the door and, for a strikingly shaped settee, a scene-stealing blue fabric from Latimer Alexander. For the overhead light at the door, where she says one might typically expect a black lantern, she went with “a little bit of jewelry, a bit of bling,” in the form of an Yves Flushmount fixture with polished brass from Urban Electric

In the pantry, Pelissier painted the cabinets in Benjamin Moore Dartmouth Green and the wood floor a diamond pattern of Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray and Dove White. 

Architect Weston found room in the downstairs hallway to create a commodious pantry; designer Pelissier had the floor painted in a diamond-shaped pattern as a subtle nod to the home’s arts & crafts vibe.

The kitchen, too, received an update with new cabinetry designed by Weston and built by Faneuil, along with eye-catching pendant lighting from Urban Electric. Across from the kitchen, Weston enlarged the dining room by removing some built-in cabinetry and a bar (which was relocated to the new pantry). Pelissier tucked new storage space in a corner by way of sourcing a perfectly sized and spectacular free-standing antique mahogany glass-front bookcase transformed into—voilà—a china cabinet. 

Weston opened up the view to Little Harbor in the dining room by removing a door that she says served to “cut things down” and replacing it with a 12-foot glass expanse. She also widened the porch just outside so that a dinner party as well as more casual hanging out can move back and forth from the table to the fresh air. “It had been so narrow it was almost useless,” she says. “Now you can actually put some chairs out there.” The glorious view created by the new panes even allows the cook to see out to the water while prepping in the kitchen. 

A knock-out kitchen designed by both Weston and Pelissier and built by Faneuil Kitchen Cabinet of Hingham is a family favorite.

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