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Treasuring The Dunes

An Osterville interior decorator works with Bunny Mellon’s family to restore a famous Oyster Harbors cottage.

Photography by Dan Cutrona

Tucked in the dunes and surrounded by beach grass, Rosa rugosa, and a wildflower meadow, it feels as if Dune House has always been there. It is a structure that respects and enhances the environment, rather than subduing it. “The overriding feeling that I had coming into this house was that I just felt the love, care, and attention to detail both inside and out,” says Hope. “The whole place is just kind of unexpected—you feel as if you are totally alone, almost as if you could be on a remote coast of a distant land, rather than on Cape Cod.”

Since it was built back in the 1950s, Dune House was in need of some restoration and overall refreshing. “Everything was a little timeworn, feeling the affects of the sun and salt air, ” says Hope. One of the first projects for the cottage’s updating was the complete overhaul of the guest bedroom and bathroom. “There is such a sweet, charming play going on between these two spaces,” says the designer, noting that she was immediately taken by the appearance of the same French toile in both rooms.

Called Pillement Toile, the fabric is a whimsical print of indigo blue animals set in a trellis on an ivory cotton background. The fabric was used as bed dressings  and for the headboard—and as wall coverings in the bathroom. The Lloyds and Hope chose to recreate the same aesthetic, hoping to find the exact, or a similar fabric as the primary design element, tying both spaces together.

“Given that the toile fabric had been selected so long ago, I was unsure if it would still be available,” says Hope. “After searching the fabric showrooms, I was delighted to find it on the Quadrille (a fabric house) website. It had not been in the showroom for years, but luckily was still available.”

After ordering the toile from France, the designer got to work with one of the painters from the estate’s experienced crew, who has worked with Mrs. Mellon for years. “We pretty much had to strip the cottage bare and then we began matching the paint colors as best we could,” says Hope. “I worked with Ronald Brumfield—his father had also been a painter for Mrs. Mellon. She has a fine eye for color and was very particular. For instance, she would
bring a white rose to one of the painters, point to the color of a particular petal and ask for that color for the walls.”

Hope notes that in the past the estate’s painting team had a supply of special pigments. “For these rooms, we used C2 paints and combined different whites. We mixed the colors for the guest bedroom and bathroom and tried to get as close as we could to the original tone,” says Hope, a Rhode Island School of Design graduate. She adds that throughout both spaces, neutral, yet warm hues complement the colors of the toile. A new wool carpet in soft ivory was custom-ordered from Patterson, Flynn & Martin. “At first glance, it looks like wall-to-wall carpeting, but it was cut to fit the space and bound with cotton, allowing for the piece to be pulled up if necessary, giving the room a more finished look,” Hope explains.

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