An Osterville home combines rustic charm with a polished elegance that a family enjoys whenever possible.
What kind of Cape house would you build if you could? Would it be airy and light, like the cool breezes that come off the beach just before the midday heat, or would it have moody corners where you could curl up and read a book or gaze at a fire pit? Would your bare feet slap against a hardwood floor or cool expanse of tile, or would sumptuous natural fiber carpets dull the harsh sounds that fill your days in the real world? And what if you were one of those rare creatures whose love for the Cape is equal without favor, regardless of the calendar month, like a mother’s love for her children. What then?
All you need to do is ask Jennifer Palumbo, principal of Jennifer Palumbo Interiors. Palumbo, who makes her living contributing and suggesting how people could live their best life, had a precious opportunity to bring all of her expertise and insight to bear when she and her family decided to build their Cape home. “When we moved to Boston from New York, we wanted to find a weekend home in the area,” Palumbo recalls. “We looked in Maine and Vermont, as well as various places on the Cape. When we found this spot in Osterville, we walked outside and it just took our breath away, we could just see it as our home.”
Palumbo enlisted the team at Hutker Architects in Falmouth to design the home, headed up by Jim Cappuccino, partner at the firm and Erin Levin, one of Hutker’s talented associates. “The land was originally a very heavily wooded lot, Cappuccino explains. “And when we sited the project, we were able to offer west-facing and sunset views-—it was really spectacular. It was one of those occasions when you really begin to see the potential in the property.”
Cappuccino also explains how the project was the beginning of a beautiful realtionship among the trio. “This was the first time we worked with Jen,” Cappuccino remembers. “Designing her home was such a great experience, we have now worked together several times for clients that she has referred to us.” The result of this dream team on their first foray is a home, whose subtleties and thoughtful appointments, look very different from the typical Cape house.
“For a long time I have admired the work Hutker’s firm has been putting out. I loved the subtlety, the casualness, and the unassuming quality their work has,” Palumbo says. “There is a rustic, farmhouse simplicity inherent to their projects and that was what we distinctly wanted. We live in a historic Georgian home in Boston and we wanted something that felt completely different. I’ve always wanted this casual, barn-style kind of look, but in a beach community, and that is what they were able to give us. A lot of thought went into pulling that off so it still felt coastal and acknowledged that we were in a summer community near the ocean.”
“The goal was to create a balance between a home in a beach community, but also a cozy winter escape,” explains Cappuccino.
That rustic, weathered aesthetic that translates as simple, unassuming architecture on the exterior is accomplished by a mix of vertical board siding and silvered cedar shingles; unadorned fenestration and copper roof accents. Inside, reclaimed barn board planks adorn the walls in old world warmth that is highlighted by the blank canvas of white painted walls enveloped in shiplap paneling. From the moment one enters the front door (painted a soothing, coastal blue) Palumbo’s passion for deliberately curated lighting choices is evident. A ceiling fixture that is little more than a tangle of blown glass globes, caught up in a nest of nautical line crowns the small space and sets the tone for the kind of casual, creative environment that is found throughout.
The living room basks in the awe-producing timber frame structure and a linear gas fireplace, set with beach stones and anchoring a two-story wall of the deep, rich barn boards. Floating like delicate jellyfish on the swells of the ocean, a collection of honeycombed pendant lights bob over the space that includes a soft, sumptuous sectional, punctuated by deep turquoise throw pillows, and other casual seating. Palumbo’s fondness for the natural aesthetic of pastoral and organic textures and surfaces is counter-balanced with her love of sleek sophistication making for a certain equilibrium that is found throughout the home.
The living room shares the first floor with the dining area, flanked on the other side by the kitchen. “Our home in Boston is classic, so here, we wanted a wide open space for all of the family activities to take place,” Palumbo explains. Adjacent to the great room are two spaces that serve the entire family. In one room, designated the “kid’s family room,” light pours through a bank of windows to illuminate a kid-tested sectional sofa with an array of colorful pillows and a whimsical hanging chair—the perfect place to hang out with friends. Across the hall, a home office with royal blue walls keeps things energized when Palumbo and her husband find themselves reconnecting with real life.
The north and south wings of the home are connected on the second story by a 35-foot hallway that has a section of cable railing, and then transitions to a full interior wall with interior windows. “I love walking through that section of the home,” Palumbo explains. “The ceiling is a bit slanted and as you move through the spaces, it feels like you are in the loft areas of a barn. You are just so much more aware of your environment than you would be walking down a traditional hallway.” The master bedroom, found at the end of the catwalk also benefits from the light exchange and ventilation of two interior windows that offer views of the activities of the great room below.
Outside, a landscape imagined by the inimitable landscape designer Kris Horiuchi, of Falmouth’s Horiuchi and Solien, includes an in-ground pool, natural stone decking, a covered pavilion, cabana and fireplace, all against the backdrop of Oyster Harbors on Cotuit Bay. The home was built by Cataldo Custom Builders, Inc. which coordinated all of the parties, including Cappuccino, Horiuchi, Jonathan Searles from Francisco Tavares Landscape, and Palumbo, who obviously served as interior designer as well as homeowner.
Ralph Cataldo says, “This was such a special project. Every time we met, everyone was prepared, we were organized and decisions came quickly. We were able to move the schedule along very efficiently because there was a high level of trust. Because of that trust, it facilitated the communication and created a team that was invested in building something truly amazing. Often these projects take a very long time to complete, but this one was different because everyone worked together as a team.”
Cataldo also remarks how this project was different becasue of the design program that Cappuccino, Levin and Palumbo achieved. “The home had a unique array of finishes, both inside and out,” Cataldo explains. “They introduced a post and beam element, both inside the home and outside in the pavillion. There was natural fieldstone that was hand split by the landscape contractor and represented on the cabana’s fireplace, around the pool. There was significant hardscape, which really married the project to the site. Overall, it is just a very special home.”
The Palumbos enjoy their Cape home through the seasons. It has truly become a retreat for them, and because of the kaleidoscope of styles and spaces that Palumbo and the rest of the team have imagined and ultimately created, the home will continue to grow, and evolve, just like Palumbo and her active family.
Check out another At HOME story: George Davis