Winter 2011

Home Sweet Holiday Home

Cape Cod Home  /  Winter 2011 / , ,

Writer: Susie Caliendo / Photographer: Stacey Hedman 

A Sandwich home owner creates a magical holiday glow with special coastal touches.

A Sandwich home owner creates a magical holiday glow with special coastal touches

Although Cape Cod cottages are generally known for their summery spirit, the Cape is the perfect place to get away for a relaxing holiday with the family – and decorating your home accordingly is only an added bonus. Photo by Stacey Hedman

“There’s  no place like home for the holidays.”   Those words ring especially true for Denise Barker of East Sandwich. Her charming Cape is a constantly evolving expression of her love for Cape Cod, photography, nature, and her family, especially during the holiday season, with two crackling fireplaces spreading warmth and freshly baked Christmas treats piled high on pretty pedestal plates displayed on the kitchen counter. Denise makes the holiday season special with all her festive, uniquely creative touches.

In 2002 when Denise and her husband, Scott, were house-hunting they had a punch list of wants and needs for their family of five. The couple loved the historic character of East Sandwich, and coming upon an unfinished Cape with a yard full of pear and apple trees they knew they had found the right place.

The Barkers purchased the property and Denise jumped into remodeling projects, selecting  the  home’s elements to reflect her unique taste and style. Kitchen cabinets and counters were installed, hardwood floors were laid down, and bathrooms were finished, with Denise carefully choosing everything from appliances to cabinet knobs.

In 2010, after eight years of making memories in their cozy Cape, the Barker family knew they needed more room for the revolving door of friends and a family who gathered on summer evenings after days spent on Sandy Neck beach, or on winter afternoons after skating excursions on a nearby cranberry bog.

A Sandwich home owner creates a magical holiday glow with special coastal touches

Glass cookie stands make serving guests easy as the fire crackles in the background. Photo by Stacey Hedman

Denise designed a room that extended off the kitchen, which fit the character of the house, but also offered a great space for entertaining, or for quiet family time. Taking about four months to complete, the expansion project was handled by Rick Crooks Carpentry of Sandwich.

The room turned out beautifully with Denise’s signature “Cape Cod chic” style, a comfortable combination of old and new pieces giving the home warmth and color.  Denise can often be found at the Sandwich Flea Market on summer days in search of home décor treasures. She also spends a lot of time exploring antique shops up and down Route 6A in Sandwich. Her collection of vintage cameras and photos are scattered throughout the house.

The focal point of the family room is a Mexican Pebble stone fireplace. Denise handpicked each stone herself to get the “beachy” look she wanted for a home by the sea. The room is saturated in natural light and the oversized window seat offers extra seating for a crowd, an especially nice feature for summer or holiday gatherings.  Brushed silver sconces at each end of the window seat and colorful pillows add delightful touches.

A Christmas cookie swap was the theme of a recent holiday celebration Denise hosted for several friends. Denise crafted lovely invitations and keepsake cookie recipe booklets for guests from her own photographs. What better way for busy moms to escape from the hectic holiday rush for a few hours of girl talk and delicious treats? Denise makes entertaining look effortless when hosting such get-togethers. The welcoming atmosphere encourages guests to linger by the candlelight, savoring a glass of wine or a cup of hot coffee on a chilly winter evening.

At the cookie swap, guests gathered in the dining area featuring banquette style seating in front of a large window overlooking what once was farmland and an orchard next door. Holiday treats decorated a pine table with a rustic, yet elegant look. This combination of updated and traditional pieces with a little edge creates a look that is both sassy and current.

A Sandwich home owner creates a magical holiday glow with special coastal touches

Beach style spaces like this one can be given a winter ambiance with holly accents, silver candleholders, and a splash of holiday tones. Photo by Stacey Hedman

For that magical holiday glow, white dishes were paired with mercury glass candleholders and ornaments adding a splash of shimmer and shine. Birch candles and freshly clipped cedar brought the outdoors in. White cloth napkins were wrapped with a shell napkin ring, for a touch of coastal elegance. A cedar sprig nestled in the napkin provided a marvelous “pop” of green.

In the kitchen, glass vases were filled with fluffy artificial snow and ornaments, then topped with a china plate full of Christmas cookies for a one-of-a-kind pedestal tray. An antique pine side table featured an eclectic display of family heirlooms, a perfect home for the holidays touch. Pine cones scattered around the room gave natural Christmas touches, perfect with a moss covered lamp shade with a sea glass lamp base. A distressed, cream colored, wooden frame featured a spray of fragrant cedar and balsam greens tied in a silvery gray satin ribbon.

In the family room this holiday season, the Christmas tree sits in an oversized rattan basket, a perfect natural look for a Cape Cod Christmas tree. Twinkling white lights are enhanced by sparkly shells and starfish as well as other seaside-inspired ornaments with nautical themes like boats and mermaids. Every year, Denise creates a handmade ornament from one of her family photographs and hangs it on the tree. This artful touch is just another example of her creativity and how it distinguishes a home full of items that are sentimental and thoughtful.

For the family’s holiday celebrations, the mantel features an eye-catching display of silvers and greens. From the brushed silver cups holding pinecones shimmering in silver, to the glittery snowflakes hanging from sheer metallic ribbon, this is a magical vision of holiday cheer.  A blanket of cascading greens covers the mantel and a clamming basket of shells sitting on the hearth provide natural elements that remind the Barkers of the nearby beach they cherish.

Denise is modest when it comes to describing her home and her style. For her it is just how she lives her life, with graceful respect for nature and the world around her. She is happy to call Cape Cod home, especially for the holidays.


Susie Caliendo is a Cape Cod freelance writer and home decor designer.