Early Summer 2015

Seaside Magicians

Cape Cod Home  /  Early Summer 2015 / ,

Writer: Mary Grauerholz / Photographer: Alison Carron 

Mackenzie & Company is transforming coastal interiors with a whimsical, yet sophisticated sense of color and texture—and some fun touches of the unexpected.

Mackenzie & Company is transforming coastal interiors with a whimsical, yet sophisticated sense of color and texture—and some fun touches of the unexpected.

Photo by: Alison Carron


Serendipity seems to follow Angela Hamwey like a warm gust of summer wind. When Hamwey was looking for a new space for her interior design business, Mackenzie & Company, she found herself in the center of Hyannis gazing at the handsome new brick façade of Puritan Cape Cod. She decided to drop in to the shop to see a good friend, and five minutes later was in the space of her dreams, just above the Main Street clothier.

Not that the space was so dreamy looking at the time. Drab walls, gray wall-to-wall carpeting, and inadequate lighting clouded the studio’s beautiful tall ceilings and deep windows, one of which frames a steeple across the street. Today, Mackenzie & Company (formerly mackenzie & mae) is ensconced in  a bright workspace, refurbished in natural finishes and tactile fabrics, a testament to Hamwey’s instinctive design sense. “It’s very neutral, to push the work along,” Hamwey says of the studio. “I want clients to be able to visualize how fabrics and colors will work in their own space. We don’t design for people, we design with them.”

The serendipitous nature of Hamwey’s work life continues to unfold. She recently met Neil Blair, an interior designer who moved to Sandwich in 2013, and they quickly became collaborators. A collegial spirit and shared design sense pervade their work, each buoying the other’s artistic vision, rooted in color, texture, judicious accessorizing, and repurposed furniture.

Mackenzie & Company had an opportunity to express this vision when Hamwey was asked to design the interior of a cottage at Heritage Sands in Dennisport, a new cottage community based on the historic cottage neighborhoods that made an indelible mark on Cape Cod. Considering the 900-square-foot cottage with water views, Hamwey knew she wanted a coastal theme, “with soft, relaxing colors.”

But a coastal theme still can hold surprises, she says: “It doesn’t have to be starfish and anchors.” A mix of new furnishings and repurposed pieces, amid the light colors and refined textures of the fabrics and wall color, lets visitors know, as Hamwey says, “that they can bring their own family history into this space.” There is also something to love about its simplicity. “Overdesigned homes look very flat to me,” Hamwey says.

The interior designer’s relationship with her clients often has a familial feel. She is currently working with two young doctors with small children who exchange ideas with Hamwey on the website, Pinterest, the clients often posting late at night after the children are asleep. Hamwey loves the pace of this kind of creative brainstorming. “It’s so much fun,” she says. While the company’s clients are primarily on the Cape and Islands and Greater Boston area, Hamwey and Blair have traveled throughout New England and Florida to create custom interiors.

The Mackenzie & Company design studio reflects Hamwey’s and Blair’s mutual love of tactile surfaces and fabrics, and their multi-layered approach to design. The studio’s walls, painted a soft feathery gray, are buttressed by shining wood floors and a high ceiling with track lighting that gently illuminates the furnishings: a hefty dark-wood work table, dark modular shelving by Expert Closets in Yarmouth, and on the opposite wall, a collage of fabric panels and swatches.

Located here and there are decorative items that embody the art of interior design and the building’s industrial past: white objets d’art, an antique Singer sewing machine, a sheepskin folded over a wood-slat chair, and piles of fabrics. “Everything is textile to me,” Hamwey says. “I’m very visual; I love to mix color and texture.”

Mackenzie & Company is transforming coastal interiors with a whimsical, yet sophisticated sense of color and texture—and some fun touches of the unexpected.

Photo by: Alison Carron

She also loves injecting surprise into an interior. “Years ago, designs were country, contemporary, or traditional,” Hamwey says. “There was really no crossover. I like the unexpected in a room. We can do something super contemporary, then (add) something like a large antique bottle.” She points to a sublime oversized green bottle set on a repurposed cupboard—a memento from a winemaker that Blair brought home from his years spent in Italy.

Hamwey’s path to Mackenzie & Company was a winding one that accommodated the needs of her three sons. “I kept finding niches for myself around having my kids,” the designer says. She started her career in human resources and eventually went into consulting and designing athletic apparel. But she had wanted to do interior design since she was a teenager and eventually studied at the Rhode Island School of Design. Hamwey and her husband, Michael Hamwey—owner of Sea Street Café in Hyannis—live in West Yarmouth with their sons. Today, Hamwey sees an open road for her business, including collaborating on a signature line of upholstered furniture that will be custom-made for clients at a family-owned company in North Carolina.

Beyond the color palettes, textures, and detailing that Hamwey and Blair create, there is also an indescribable bit of magic that lights their interiors. As Blair says, “You want people to walk into the space and feel nurtured and safe.”

For Hamwey, much of it is instilling a love of home with her clients. It’s an important subject for her. Now living with her family in a well-loved house on Lewis Bay, with a newly re-named business, she feels very much where she wants to be. “I love my town; I love my neighborhood,” Hamwey says. “This is my vision of what I wanted the business to be and how I got here. I’ve been thinking of doing this since I was 16.”

For more information, visit capecodlife.com/readersinfo.

Mary Grauerholz

Hatchville resident Mary Grauerholz is a former Cape Cod LIFE editor and a contributor to Cape Cod Life Publications. Some of Mary’s many articles have included a study of wild orchids that can be found on the Cape and Islands and a history piece on Donald MacMillan—the man for whom MacMillan Pier in Provincetown is named.