Marsha Malone of Nautique answers the call for color without sacrificing sophistication
For Sheila Sheeran, her passions are immediately evident. Sheeran is not the kind of person who keeps things bottled up inside. From the first introduction, her warm, bubbly spirit gushes forward with an unexpected effervescence. That zest for life translates to the surroundings found in her Chatham home, where she has bravely and boldly injected a vibrant color scheme throughout.
Shelia and Jack Sheeran had a summer home in Harwich Port for several years (profiled in the Cape Cod HOME Summer 2014 issue), but when they moved their family from Florida and settled year round with their four children in Chatham, a new, larger home was necessary. The decision to enlist Marsha Malone, from Nautique in Brewster, wasn’t even up for debate. Malone had successfully and creatively transformed their seasonal home in Harwich into a colorful, comfortable seaside sanctuary. This time they needed a residence that would comfortably serve the family’s needs through all of the seasons with a “more grounded palette and sophistication,” says Sheeran. “I did not want the nautical feel we had in our Harwich Port house. But I also knew I didn’t want the typical beachy, Cape Cod look either because we would live here year round.” Sheeran’s choice of saturated blues, greens and pinks might have been dismissed as preppy, but the application surpasses the adolescent assumptions associated with the color combinations, as Malone’s expertise sublimely suggests a more cosmopolitan pedigree, not unlike the couture collections of clothing designers like Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade that grace fashion runways around the world. “It is a very casually elegant design plan,” Malone says. “Refined choices, like the grasscloth wall coverings and timeless fabrics, all contribute to the sense of a well thought out home.”
The color palette started with the kelly green that anchors the back of the bookcases in the great room. “I was definitely drawn to that kelly green, and I knew it was a main color I wanted to incorporate,” Sheeran says. Two blue, patterned Thibaut fabrics were sourced, one for drapes in the sitting room and one for two spooled arm chairs that anchor the great room. Sheeran says, “Once we had those two fabrics, we literally ran with the rest. It was so fast to put it all together by starting with two fabrics.” Sheeran is a Chopra Center certified meditation instructor, perhaps explaining why she is so in tune with her inner voice. She is not impulsive, but she definitely acknowledges her instinctive response to emotional triggers like color. The foundation of the two blue fabrics launched a journey into a vibrant world of color. “We incorporated a lot of the blues that were in those two fabrics, and it really just flowed effortlessly,” Sheeran explains.
The blues are countered by the kelly green found at the back of the bookcases—Sheeran says she saw color being used in that way on Pinterest, but still had to arrive at the perfect shade. She advises spending the time and patience to work through as many shades of a color as necessary to find the right shade. “We must have painted out six or seven different swatches, but when we got it right, I knew it immediately,” she says. “People just need to trust their response. Don’t continually second guess yourself. After all, it is just paint.” Now when people enter her home, they see the green in the back of the bookcases, and then their eyes move throughout the room where the green appears again and again. What might have been jarring in any other environment is explained to the mind and eye as the color reappears and validates its presence.
That validation is evident nowhere more than the back staircase, where Malone’s custom painter crafted a striped stair runner, drawing on the various shades found throughout the house. The kelly green anchors the paint treatment, and if visitors are suddenly shocked by the explosion of color, as soon as they turn to the right and enter the public spaces of the home, the deliberate use of color in such a deft and expert way subliminally puts their mind and spirit at ease. Translation: This home is about having fun. Sheeran says, “When you come in the mudroom and you see those colorful stairs, you either love it or you hate it, but it brings me joy every day. I walk in and I am just so happy.”
Malone not only helped Sheeran realize her vision for a vivid, vivacious home, but she also made sure it was family friendly. “Wherever possible we would consider fabrics from Sunbrella so that this busy family didn’t have to fret over spills or maintenance,” Malone says. For example, the sharp green and white fabric on the kitchen barstools is a Sunbrella, but to keep it unexpected and more sophisticated, Malone “railroaded” the fabric—in other words, she ran it horizontally.
The spacious kitchen transitions to an open dining area that is flanked on the other side by a comfortable living area, where the focus is on the fireplace and vibrant bookshelves that house years of framed family memories. The oversized round dining table was a custom design by Malone and is anchored by a perfectly proportioned rug, also custom ordered for the space. This great room sees lots of activity from this busy family, particularly during the warmer months as they access a comfortable deck and grassy backyard through French doors. On the other side of the great room, with a focus toward the hydrangea-laden front of the house, a more serene and mature sitting room beckons the adults to sip wine or consider all for which they are grateful as they are watched over by a fuschia buddha perched on a green lacquered chest.
Throughout the home, Malone and Sheeran deftly incorporated pieces that Malone had custom designed from her Nautique-branded furniture lines for the previous home in Harwich Port. “While that home was not small in terms of square footage, there were small spaces where commercially manufactured furniture would not have taken advantage of the best use of the space, so we made furniture to fit exactly,” Malone says. Sheeran continues by explaining that those pieces became perfect accents throughout this home, but since it was a much more open floor plan, they sourced larger scaled pieces through the various Nautique lines.
The formal front entrance of the home greets visitors in color and style with an elegant blue grasscloth wallpaper on the walls of the foyer as well as the front staircase. A custom blue and white tweed runner of carpet, with a smartly tailored border, designed by Nautique, makes the countless trips up and down the stairs much more enjoyable. At the other end of the foyer, a small alcove with a chest of drawers, more elegantly trimmed drapes and scores of small oil paintings by local artist Rowena Anderson grace the wallpapered walls. The master suite lies beyond with a bank of windows, looking out on a verdant vista. Sophisticated details negotiate the mood of the room, like a traditionally manteled fireplace and, flanking the king-size bed, white lacquered chests of drawers by Newport Cottages, a furniture line offered through Nautique.
A sitting room off the master bedroom serves as Sheeran’s meditation room. Sumptuous white drapes, accented with a wide, royal blue trim depicting white feather flourishes, serve double duty—they make the room cozy for reflection or, when drawn open, frame a beautiful marsh setting. An elegantly upholstered couch and chair from Nautique are complemented by navy blue grasscloth wallpaper that covers the walls, while one whole wall serves as Sheeran’s vision board. Hundreds of photos of her family, snippets of inspiring quotes and memorabilia that she has gathered in her journeys all contribute to the cache of gratitude Sheeran recognizes in her life.
A jewel box of a half bath, found off of the front hallway, makes perfect use of matching blue and white ikat wallpaper and fabric from the Dana Gibson collection by Stroheim. White headboard millwork halfway up the wall, a white porcelain pedestal sink, and a substantial white-framed mirror crowned with a golden cod, courtesy of the Nautique Coastal Collection, keep the wallpaper from becoming overwhelming.
Upstairs, a landing encourages lounging on a comfortable couch, covered in a green and white, trellis-patterned Sunbrella fabric and situated under exquisite oil paintings by Harwich Port artist Charlene McLaughlin. A large round table, from the Nautique Sail Loft Collection, corrals thousands of beads and baubles that Sheeran crafts into her meditative Sheila Shines Necklaces, which she sells and will be featured in her newly opened Shine Meditation Center in downtown Chatham.
A long hallway, sporting a tone-on-tone herringbone wall covering, spools the children’s bedrooms off to either side, each sporting their own personalities—in living color. Painted accent walls in wide rugby stripes of chambray and navy keep her son’s room from being too precious, and her daughters’ rooms also sport the over-sized rugby stripes but in shades of dark pink, navy and green. Finally, at the end of the hall, the ensuite over the garage utilizes many of the pieces Malone custom designed for their former house in Harwich Port and welcomes out-of-town family and guests who are constantly finding a reason to come to Cape Cod.
The lower level serves up all manner of family fun. The rugby stripes make an appearance again in chambray and navy on one long wall, featuring a large television and an extra-long entertainment center that serves double duty as desk areas for crafts or schoolwork. Quietly tucked around a corner, a “man cave” unfurls perhaps the most unique and creative space in the home. Capturing attention in Jack’s home office is the front end of a mid-century automobile, appearing as though it has just driven through the wall into the room. Complete with mandatory leather chairs, overstuffed sofas, vintage signs and guitars, this masculine lounge truly provides a sufficient retreat for anyone who is flummoxed by the indulgence of color found throughout the house.
Malone’s husband, Peter Malone of Seaport Shutter Company, assisted with Jack’s realm of responsibilities, found on the exterior of the home. Architecturally correct shutters, mahogany screen doors and Adirondack chairs were all coordinated between Peter and Jack. During a discussion of the choice of color for the shutters and door, Jack, a maritime captain, asked to match the color of the steel boat upon which he can be found most days at the Boating and Water Sports division of Chatham Bars Inn. And viola, after a visit to the Chatham Boat Basin, with his discerning eye, Peter presented the Sheerans with the perfectly customized color.
On working with Malone, Sheeran says, “We are like bookends; we literally can start and finish each other’s sentences when it comes to creative design.” Malone echoes the sentiment, stating, “Sheila and I hit it off immediately. We continually find ourselves on the same page and laugh when we discover we have both arrived at the same answer from different directions.”
Sheila Sheeran embraces color in her home as well as in her life. Maybe it is her commitment to fun with her family in a richly hued existence, or maybe it is her passion for meditation and celebration of the human spirit, but despite the source, if one squints just a bit, in just the right light, her aura might resemble a rainbow.