Hit Refresh

Cape Cod Home  /  Spring 2020 /

Writer: Allyson Plessner / Photographer: Sean Litchfield 

A beachy summer home gets a splashy update thanks to the color masters: Evolve Residential

Capturing color is an art, and like any great Rembrandt, Monet, or Hockney, the mastery is in the details. However, grasping those details in a way that is creative, respectful to the space, and still eye-catching can sometimes seem like an impossible task. A shade too dark might fail too highlight the fun vibe of a home—especially on Cape Cod—while a shade too light might not  provide the necessary deference to the history and significance of a home. When a pillow fabric or wallpaper choice can truly make or break a room, it’s essential to trust professionals who know what they are doing, and no one understands color like Evolve Residential

The refined—and almost always colorful—genius of Evolve is never more clear than if you were to stand in their Boston office space, peering over Josh Linder and Thomas Henry Egan’s shoulders as they ponder bold fabric samples, vivacious paint chips and thoughtful furniture layouts. “It’s a bit like standing over a stove cooking, throwing in some adventurous flavors like turmeric or something delicate like chervil,” muses Egan. “You have to be able to really consider what you’re making to edit it appropriately. Then, sometimes you have to take a chance.”

Clients might be surprised—and delighted—to find that Evolve’s planning process happens all at once, meaning that everything from architectural plans to furniture layouts are considered at the same time. “A lot of times if you tell an architect about the dining room table that you want to incorporate, they will say, ‘what’s a dining room table?’” laughs Egan. “They are not focused on furniture, but for us, it’s important to do it all at the same time and really give ourselves the time and space to consider the full picture of a what a project could be.” Creating a thorough plan is an essential part of Evolve’s process, especially when working so unabashedly with color. “It’s definitely a challenge,” says Egan. “We have to make sure it doesn’t look like an explosion at a paint factory.”

All of the careful consideration and collaborative planning culminates in superb homes, each with a personality all their own. Evolve’s chic style lends itself well to modern spaces, but where Linder and Egan’s talents really shine are in taking traditional spaces—the types of coastal cottages you might find along the shores of the Cape, or the historic stately manners that dot New England—and bringing them into the modern age. It’s a mix between experimental, fashionable style and elegant, respectful character that results in homes that are sophisticated yet fun, historic yet functional. “We’re all about combining old and new,” explains Linder, co-founder of Evolve along with Egan. And mastering that dichotomy is a tricky feat—a tight rope that Linder and Egan seem to navigate with professional ease, vivacious enthusiasm, and lots and lots of color.

An impeccable example of the Evolve team’s keen eye for history and innovation is the Marion condo seen in these pages. An 1840’s Greek revival, this home is characterized by breathtaking architecture and unique details like a spectacular wooden staircase and original mantels. There is an inherent sense of sophistication imbued into a home like this, a deep feeling of triumphant responsibility and destiny that comes with assuming the Grecian architecture that served as the foundation for modern democracy. Large columns and ornate doors during this time period became the design world’s entryway into the American identity. It’s a lofty responsibility for a home to carry and an even bigger onus for a designer to undertake in preserving that identity, but with their vast expertise and innate respect for a home’s past, Evolve was well positioned for the task. 

“What was originally designed worked so well, even today,” says Egan of the home. “For us, it was really about making it fit for modern living,” agrees Linder. “There’s this striking image you see outside of such a gorgeous, historic home. We wanted to preserve that same feeling inside, so the first thing you see when you walk in is the original staircase; then, we updated it with these fantastic colors which really turn it into a modern day beach house.”

More of those modern updates include a charming powder room under the stairs complete with tropical fish printed curtains and textured wallpaper, and a new, open floor plan layout for the kitchen that provides a conversation between the cooking and dining areas. And, of course, the staircase is the focal point. “The balusters were really unusual, so to accent that, Josh chose this geometric wallpaper,” explains Egan. “It really amplifies the geometry of the architecture throughout the home. Front halls can be challenging because there’s really not enough room for furniture, so you have to rely on the wall space.” Wavy lines of teal, lime, and aqua blue splash the walls with an airy, laid-back vibe that partners well with the vast, rich trove of tales that this centuries-old staircase certainly holds.

“We also decided to paint the trim all different colors throughout the house,” adds Linder. “People often think that historic homes were all white, but actually the opposite is true. Many older homes make use of deep, rich colors and we wanted to play off of that.” 

“White trim is really a modern trend,” agrees Egan, demonstrating the wealth of architectural and design knowledge that Evolve brings to the table—a knowledge that clearly spans centuries. “Back when these homes were built, you would have to add a lot of acid and lime to get the right color, and it became very toxic. At that time, people used color to give them energy—we feed off of that kind of spirit when we design homes like this.” It wouldn’t be an Evolve home, though, if Linder and Egan didn’t put their own twist on the rich hues and colorful characteristics that once made this space so spectacular. “Historic colors can sometimes feel like someone tripped over the extension cord and the lights went out,” jokes Egan, explaining that the popular tones nearly two centuries ago are often very muted. “We don’t want to hold too hard and fast to the way things used to be done. We like to take those historic colors and play off of them instead of letting them dominate a space.”

With all these colors and patterns interacting with each other throughout the home, Linder explains that it was also important to introduce neutral tones to add balance: “In the living room, specifically, we used a neutral sofa and chairs made from natural fibers that pair well against the vibrant trim. There are all of these elements that are very grounded and natural.” The driving force behind the space was to create a connection to the beach—one that is charismatic, quirky, and charming while still respectful of the fact that this is someone’s home. “We wanted to find this balance so that the space still felt homey and welcoming—somewhere people can relax,” explains Linder. “At the end of the day, this is a summer house. We want it to feel summery, but more than anything, we want it to be comfortable.”

Linder and Egan best describe the homeowner, who they have worked with a number of times, as a “dynamo.” “She’s very colorful—from her clothes to her personality,” laughs Egan. “She’s vibrant, charismatic, energetic, and has a sharp focus. She really knows what she wants, and it’s fun for us to match her speed.” With an incredible eye for accessories and decorations, the homeowner was able to bring her personality into the space and provide the finishing touches that make the home wholly unique. It’s clear from the jump that this is an Evolve home—with something new and exciting to discover in every corner—but more importantly, it’s obvious that this is a space created for a real person with a true kaleidoscope of tastes; in that way, Evolve has done so much more than create a beautiful space—they have expressed the heart of a proud homeowner in every fabric choice, one-of-a-kind wall hanging, and bold paint color.

There’s one standout element that truly captures what Evolve is all about, and it’s something that might initially be overlooked: the coat hooks in the entry. The playful octopi, beguiling starfish, and other sea creatures are the perfect elements to tie a space together, to capture the fun, colorful nature of an Evolve home. It’s exactly this kind of detail that demonstrates the thoughtful mastery that Linder and Egan present. “We want everyone who enters to know this is a fun house,” comments Linder. “It’s a challenge when you’re creating a space that is so highly decorated. We want it to feel stunning and electric but also want people to feel like they can jump on the sofa, kick their feet up, and feel the excitement and energy that we put into creating the space; more than anything, we want it to be a home where a lot of joy is shared.” 

It is certainly easy to feel that sense of calm, beachy livability within these walls, with a sprinkle of fun accents, radiant colors, and family spaces like at the picnic-style dining table. “What else would you want in a summer home?,” continues Linder. “We don’t want guests ever asking for coasters!”

“I had this image that the kids would grow up in this home and always remember the summers they spent there, feeling refreshed,” sums up Egan. “The tradition of the house that we played up makes a big impression. It gives the home a strong personality and a connection to where it is, and hopefully it gives the homeowners a sense of place. That’s how Josh and I grew up—on old Cape Cod. It’s something that stays with you your whole life…that sense of place resonates forever.”

For more information, visit Evolve online at evolveresidential.com!

Allyson Plessner

Allyson Plessner is a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life and now works for the publication as a staff writer and digital media coordinator. Born in Florida, Allyson has been a lifelong summer resident of the Cape. She is a recent alumna of the College of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina, where she completed bachelor’s degrees in both English and Spanish. In her free time, Allyson is an avid sailor, beach-goer, and—like her fellow Cape Cod Life colleagues—a dog-lover.