Changing Yellow Blue
Inside, the Yellow House was one of a certain type that families used to enjoy on the Cape, full of nooks and crannies, the type of home with a closet-like space dedicated to the telephone. It was cozy and private, but with some spaces well suited to small gatherings. It was perfectly nice, and its family loved it, but the layout lent itself to a generation when children played board games on the floor of the small second floor bedrooms (that might have previously been relegated to the household staff), or sneaking down the back staircase to spy on their parents perfecting the art of cocktailing. A porch wrapped from the north side around the western face to the south side of the home. This was enclosed with colonial grid style windows divided into twenty little square panes that would open to screens. The living room was, pardon the pun, couched inside the porch; more walls and divided windows obscured a view that by rights should have flooded the space the way the high tide occupies the crescent harbor of the adjacent beach in a new moon’s surge. Like the characters in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the possibilities of the Yellow House had been crying out for release, for the space to breathe properly, for years.
Then, in 2018, new owners arrived upon the scene with their team of designers, architects, and builders. They believed that, done right, a renovation could both preserve the charming elements of the Yellow House and allow it to fully take advantage of its harborside location. At the same time, they believed in the transmutation of time itself, that they could simultaneously modernize the home and restore its historical integrity. The team scoured old photographs and looked to the house itself for guidance. Structures such as the original fireplaces could stand as emblems of the home’s age, and assorted materials throughout could be repurposed, reorganized, and reimagined to appear sharp, orderly, and buttoned-up. Beneath the vinyl siding, shingles provided clues to some of the intricate patterns of the home’s original exterior. Much in the way a crew of archaeologists brings the fragments of dinosaurs back to something like life, the Yellow House team dug up artifacts from the very walls and used them to make magic, to revitalize the house on this prominent corner of the village.
The story of the Yellow House is truly one of an ensemble cast of heroes, each with his or her unique specialty and power, and any one could write this story from the point of view of any one of the heroes. For example the design team consisted of a duo that included Nina of Nina Mayfield Design.
In college, Mayfield majored in Art History, and then she attended the New York School of Interior Design. Following a stint of designing in New York City for Markham Roberts, where she learned the fundamentals of running a bustling design business, she launched her own business, based in Hyannis Port, eight years ago. Nina grew up in a neighborhood within Philadelphia’s historic Main Line, and she spent her summers in Hyannis Port, so her connections with both traditional American architecture and with the summer culture of the village have roots that began in her childhood. When she was a little girl, Mayfield recalls the Yellow House by saying, “I remember sitting and playing with my friend, the owner’s granddaughter, in the living room—it was like a box within the box of the porch, with wall-to-wall carpeting. So, it has been especially fun to see the transformation of that part of the house. The new house is just so much more conducive to the indoor/outdoor experience.”
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