This colorful condo will AMAZE you!
Cape Cod Home / Spring 2019 / Home, Garden & Design
Writer: Haley Cote / Photographer: Sean Litchfield
This Provincetown condo is a work of art, capturing the spirit of its vibrant homeowners
Cookie-cutter. That’s a good way to describe Eric Alden and Ian Tzeng’s West Vine Street condo when they first bought it. Not that being cookie-cutter is inherently negative. All-white walls, an all-white kitchen—this clean, bright look is fitting of a Cape Cod summer home.
Still, this house was just too simple, too cookie-cutter. And Eric and Ian are anything but cookie-cutter. They’re fashion-forward, they like to dress boldly, and they love to travel the world—including to Provincetown. What they needed in their own Provincetown getaway was a space just as vibrant as they are, a space that was fun and carefree, and conducive to entertaining their many friends. They needed a space like their primary home in Boston, designed by Evolve Residential.
“You should see our house in Boston they did for us!” Eric quips, laughing, explaining the “eclectic chic” style of the home. “Our master bedroom is bright blue, we’ve got wallpapered ceilings, each stairway has a different color runner—it’s very colorful. I love it, and I told them I wanted Provincetown to feel like an extension of our house in Boston.” Josh Linder and Thomas Egan III, two of Evolve Residential’s three design principals, came up with a design plan that created a dynamic and energetic feel with injections of bold color in every space while maintaining a sense of comfort and usability. Layers of black, white and neutral textural elements are thoughtfully incorporated to ground and warm each room, balancing the moments of color while enhancing visual interest.
“We tried to be as artful as possible,” says Linder. “If you had strong colors everywhere, they might dominate and overwhelm the space, but by selectively and carefully choosing where these strong colors should go, it allowed us to be more vibrant and playful with the strength and depth of color.”
The interplay of color and texture might be most impactful on the first floor in the blended living, kitchen and dining room. What’s immediately striking is the pop of electric blue high-gloss painted cabinetry in the kitchen, set against a scene of black, off-white and gray furniture. “We say it’s like relaxation meets pop art,” Linder notes. The black-painted fireplace also draws one into the space, and adds architectural interest. Window sashes and doors throughout the home are also painted black. (Fun fact: Eric’s brother, Todd Sage, completed all of the painting in the home.) Against the wall opposite the fireplace is a custom, oversized dark-gray wingback. “We added in the pulled string button detail versus a classical tuft, just to add a little bit of artistry, and it’s a nod to the craftsmanship that goes into these pieces—emphasizing the handmade quality,” Linder says. Working within a limited footprint that required multi-use, it was also important to make the living area here feel as open as possible, and the addition of the wingback expands the space—as does the use of a custom light-gray banquette in the dining area. “By giving it the arched back it didn’t block the windows, and by making the bench seat tufted on all sides, it provided dimension and depth,” Linder explains.
A closer examination of the first floor reveals the great extent of textural detail. The ribbon nailhead trim that wraps around the perimeter of the sofa. The sculptural light fixtures above the kitchen island made of seatbelt-like material. The ant figurine atop the dry bar (a playful nod, says Linder, to the endearing quirkiness of Provincetown). These layers of texture, from Linder’s point of view, help to match the excitement created by the statement-making kitchen cabinetry.
Heading downstairs, a porthole-style window within the stairwell offers a sneak peak of colorfully cozy den, and creates the feeling of being transported into the cabin of a ship. As delightful of a gathering space as the first floor is, it’s hard not to want to retreat to the den and curl up on the wrap-around seating nook. Its midnight-blue bases and off-white French mattresses with a ticking stripe pattern promote relaxation, and there’s plenty of space for several guests to sit and chat—it can even be used as a sleeping quarter for an overnight guest. A multi-colored oval ottoman feels like dried paint to the touch, and adding to the artistic flair of this room, above the glossy red-orange desk, are two vividly detailed drawings of bees by London artist Ryan Chadwick. “In our Boston house, up to the sunroom, I had him do about 30 different-sized bees, so I have a whole bee wall. That was our little tribute to him and playing off our Boston house,” Eric says.
On the second floor, the master bedroom has its color moments in the lime-green ceiling and the deep-blue, linen-wrapped chest. A subtle yet well-executed design element here is the use of lines—in the pale-green stripped wallpaper, the woven black-and-white-stripped area rug, the navy flange that wraps the perimeter of the duvet cover, the rope-wrapped desk, the pom-pom trim detail along the leading edges of the drapery, and in the two watercolor wash paintings above the bed. “I love this combination of tailored but still playful,” Linder says.
Another artful nod to Eric and Ian’s Boston house is found along the wall of the stairway to the second floor. This contemporary art installation, by Christina Watka, is similar to one the artist did in the couple’s city home, and it can be interpreted in various ways—Linder sees it as barnacles, to Egan it looks like sea urchins, and Eric describes it as “little black pools.” The installation consists of clusters of ceramic and porcelain black pebbles that are matte glazed, some with an 18-karat gold finish. “We loved the beachy vibe it had for this house,” says Linder. “The motion and movement up the stairs is beautiful,” Eric notes.
Just down the hall is a gem of a powder room. It might seem odd to get excited about a half bath, but this one’s a real attention stealer, with three walls covered in camo-print wallpaper and another wall fully tiled. “It’s a cool combination of matte texture in the blues, and the lighter portions are all in this metallic silver, so it really adds a lot of dimension in the space,” Linder says. The industrial porthole-style mirror here is another play on a ship-like feel, and a reminder of Provincetown’s maritime roots.
No space went overlooked in this house, not even the space at the top of the stairwell leading to the third floor guest suite. Turn around on the third-floor landing and you’ll see leading up to the ceiling a full-length mirror, outlined in red paint and featuring the same nailhead perimeter trim of the sofa in the living room. Linder says he enjoys any opportunity he gets to incorporate dramatic mirrors to create depth of interest, and he found an opportunity again in the guest bathroom—the white coral reef design of this mirror similar to the one in the master en suite.
The star of the guest suite, though, is the bed itself, conceptualized by Egan and constructed by builder Ellen Rousseau, who completed all of the interior trim work during the project. “What we designed is almost a traditional European or old New England alcove bed,” Egan explains. “It’s really the coolest guest bedroom you’ve ever been in. It’s like climbing up to a little tree house and having this secret canopy bed that you can disappear into.” Linder continues: “We took the same horizontal V-groove detailing in the den and created a whole bed out of it, both on the walls and the surrounding perimeter, and painted that all in dark black. And then there are these burlap curtains to the left and to the right so you can pull them closed and create a beautiful sleeping nook.”
“Creating this small space that’s like a little nook in the guest bedroom, it references the early style of how houses were made,” Rousseau notes. While the design of this condo is certainly contemporary, it was important to Egan and Linder to incorporate elements of traditional design throughout. “Josh and I have a deep respect for tradition and traditional forms,” says Egan. “We rarely do a house that’s ‘traditional,’ but if you look at this space—say the main living room—a lot of it consists of very traditional forms. The wingback chair is a traditional New England chair from the 17th century—we’ve just played with the proportions and the materials to make it into a contemporary chaise. The little banquette next to the front door at the table is kind of like a mini Chesterfield sofa.” Linder adds, “The painting of the sashes in the dark color, that’s a detail you see with historic houses all the time, but in this application it feels quite contemporary.”
Out front, the condo benefits from a generous-size terrace, with bluestone pavers, surrounding greenery and a boulder wall, completed by Megan Spoerndle of Stix and Stones Landscaping. The space feels like a continuation of the interior, with sculptural woven chairs and a sleek Blu Dot outdoor sofa. A perfect spot for entertaining (“Rose in the summertime and some music—it’s quite delightful,” Eric says), it’s also ideal for the couple’s two adorable dogs, Bella and Breaker.
For all parties involved in this project, it was one that left a lasting impression. “It’s been a fantastic journey,” Eric says of working with Josh and the Evolve team, noting how “effortlessly” they were able to translate he and Ian’s ideas into reality. “We were really inspired by working with Eric and Ian because they have such fantastic personal style, and it was really easy to get excited about that and interpret it in this space,” says Linder.
“I love that so much of the aesthetic of this project is very ‘now,’ yet it keeps in mind that we live in a seaside town,” notes Rousseau. It was Evolve who brought Rousseau onboard the project, and both Linder and Egan couldn’t be happier about that decision. “What we love about Ellen is that you can give her a drawing and some information on how you’d like something constructed, and she, without any oversight, will execute it flawlessly, exactly as we intended,” explains Linder. “Ellen understood our vision immediately,” Egan adds. “She’s the ideal person you want in that position but you rarely get.”
As Eric looks ahead to the upcoming summer season, he plans on spending as much time as possible in Provincetown. “When I open that door, it’s just automatic happiness,” he says. “Being able to provide a space for our friends to enjoy such a magical place with us has been a blessing.”