An Interior Designer’s Transformation of an Entire Waquoit Bay House Wins a Homeowners Heart.
Can you fall in love with a home twice? This Mashpee homeowner did.
The first time the father-of-three walked into this four-bedroom house elegantly set on Waquoit Bay, he fell in love with its impressive water views.
He fell in love again when Michele Chagnon-Holbrook of Casabella Home Furnishings in East Sandwich unveiled her interior design vision — for the entire house.
“I absolutely loved everything she did,” the homeowner says.
Chagnon-Holbrook transformed a somewhat traditional beach house into a vacation home that’s a sophisticated, yet serene oasis ideal for contemporary seaside living—matching the homeowner’s expectations perfectly.
“I wanted the home to be inviting, comfortable—Cape Cod leisure, I called it. I wanted my family and friends to relax because that’s what a Cape vacation house is all about,” the homeowner says.
To make the house into the home of his dreams, the homeowner discovered Casabella, located on Route 6A in East Sandwich, simply by driving by. “I went in and Michele (Chagnon-Holbrook) was extremely enthusiastic about the prospect of furnishing my house,” the homeowner says. “She really listened to what I wanted.”
Over the next two-and-a-half months, Chagnon-Holbrook had several conversations with the homeowner, getting a solid understanding of his family’s unique needs, many of which centered on functionality and practicality as well as creating a relaxed ambiance for family fun and casual entertaining.
The designer created a fresh concept for the house from the basement to attic, tailored to the busy family’s lifestyle, yet not detracting from a spectacular setting. The first floor has an open plan with floor to ceiling windows framing sweeping water views. Choosing a design to complement—not overwhelm—the vista was a priority.
“We didn’t want bold colors that would draw the eye away from the spectacular view. We wanted to bring the outside in and the design to be soft and engaging from the moment you walk in the door,” Chagnon-Holbrook says.
The existing front foyer space had dark wood on the banister and stairs. A large black and brass chandelier hung from the high ceiling. Believing the design palette and fixtures were too stark, the designer softened the look by painting the wood a soft gray, choosing a textured grass cloth with earth-hued green and brown tones for wall coverings, and hanging a quintessential-coastal, handcrafted chandelier made of sand-coated shells and crystals. The effect is warm and welcoming and provides a subtle transition to the home’s interior.
The use of nature-inspired fabrics and accents is coordinated with a stairway runner featuring leather trim, adding a strong stylish touch also reflected in subtle stripes of semi-gloss and satin paint in the same color on the foyer walls. “The space looks different throughout the day depending on the light,” the designer says.
A collection of three-dimensional silver fish adds a flash of perfect seaside artistry and playfulness to the expansive wall space rising up the stairs, also paying homage to the homeowner’s love of fishing. To define distinct spaces on the first floor, Chagnon-Holbrook chose functional, handsome, yet easy-care furnishings and inspired lighting fixtures. “The home now has all these amazing little vignettes,” she says, noting that use of similar hues and textures throughout the house’s interiors creates a coordinated design that flows from room to room.
Near the kitchen, four rattan chairs form a warm sitting area overlooking picturesque Waquoit Bay. In the living room, one of the homeowner’s favorite features are two plush swivel chairs for a quiet moment alone with a cup of coffee gazing out at the water, or allowing for the flexibility to turn 180-degrees and join in family conversations.
A 90-inch dining table—ideal for hosting a large group of family or friends—called for substantial chairs. The homeowner also wanted fabrics that would be able to withstand his children’s damp bathing suits and sticky barbecue fingers. Chagnon-Holbrook chose high-back chairs upholstered in a sea green, crocodile leather to add a little bit of light-hearted fun, yet stayed true to the home’s soft, natural color scheme. “If the leather gets dirty, the chairs can just be wiped down,” the designer says.
The home was built with recessed lighting, but adding a few carefully selected lighting fixtures helped give the space a cozy, more relaxed feel. Above the dining room table, a nautical-inspired chandelier with straight lines and polished nickel adds visual interest. Two Venetian glass light fixtures above the kitchen island are not only beautiful, but also cast a lovely four-way reflection on the ceiling, like the sunlight on the bay outside.
For the private peaceful space of the first-floor master bedroom, Chagnon-Holbrook chose a strong, yet serene, navy and white palette. White wainscoting was installed three-quarters of the way up the walls and navy grass-cloth wall coverings make an elegant impact, creating a cool interior. A crisp navy, tufted upholstered headboard pops against the wainscoting.
“We kept the bed simple and added masculine details, like a leather ottoman, to complete the space,” Chagnon-Holbrook says. High-quality but machine-washable bed linens are in line with the homeowner’s desire for practicality. Marine-inspired prints in navy and white above the bed enhance the coastal feel of the room.
When Chagnon-Holbrook and Casabella take on a project, the design team offers full-service interior design options, whether for a single room, or an entire home. Chagnon-Holbrook notes that she has a team of experts to paint, wire, hang, move, and install her interior design concepts. The furniture and décor are thoughtfully curated from Casabella’s extensive warehouse stock, as well as from an arsenal of unique vendors, furniture makers, and artisans, many of whom are based in the US and are able to customize their product. Chagnon-Holbrook coordinates with the vendors for delivery and installation to take the stress of a project off the client. “When our homeowners open the door, the work is done A to Z,” she says.
The Casabella team is all about attention to detail, from putting dimmers on all the lights to replacing the knobs on the existing built-in bookshelves, to picking the perfect accessories to accompany larger design furnishings.
Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary is also one of Casabella’s trademarks. For example, in this home, Chagnon-Holbrook took a map of Cape Cod, a decoration found in many Cape homes, and made it into something truly unique. The map was cut into six pieces; each piece was framed and hung individually to create an entirely different customized look.
Upstairs, in a comfortable loft area, there are three life rings, another traditional nautical decorative look. Chagnon-Holbrook transformed the rings into an imaginative personalized statement for the homeowner’s family, painting the rings in a blue and green reminiscent of sea glass, then inscribing each ring with the name of the homeowner’s three children and their birth years.
“It was a small detail, but I love it and people always comment on it,” says the homeowner. The final result of Casabella’s design is a coastal haven that this father and his three children plan to enjoy for years to come.
“This is an all-season home with amazing textures, fabrics, and surroundings,” Chagnon-Holbrook says. “It’s family-friendly, ready for company and relaxation.”
With the business of creating a seaside oasis for his family complete, the homeowner plans to take advantage of his home’s spectacular surroundings, looking forward to exploring all Cape Cod’s attractions on land and sea. He notes that his house is often filled with guests, some of whom have come for the weekend and been so relaxed and happy that they stayed for two weeks.
It’s Cape Cod leisure at its finest for his family and his friends. “That home is my last breathing spot,” he says. “I love every minute of it.”
Casabella Home Furnishings is located at 389 Route 6A in East Sandwich. For more information, call 508-888-8688, or visit casabellahomefurnishings.com.
Read about another home by Casabella HERE.
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