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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

While waiting for the fabric to arrive from France, the search was on for someone who could upholster the bathroom walls. “An interior designer friend of mine in Boston had worked with a great European upholsterer now in Boston, who had learned his skills at his mother’s side while she upholstered the walls of Versailles,” says Hope. “His name is Bruno Jouenne and the name of his Boston company is Soft Walls Associates.”

The process of actually putting the fabric onto the walls is a complicated and exact skill, requiring careful measurements and placement, especially in a room that is exposed to sea air from several windows as well as from the shower and bath. “Bruno came, did all the measurements, and we decided on some inspired details, like the double self-welt trim, which created a very clean, yet old-fashioned elegant look,” says Hope.

The installation process is laborious. “First you build a frame structure on the walls and then you add padding. Putting up the fabric takes real artistry,” Hope explains, noting that this step took several days. But the time and attention to detail was worth it, especially when their designer heard from the Lloyds that Mrs. Mellon loved hearing how one of her favorite spaces had been transformed. “Mrs. Mellon designed a garden at Versailles,” Hope says, “When Thomas told her about this gentleman with Versailles-inspired training, she was thrilled.”

Hope and the Lloyds are still working on the final touches for the bedroom and bath, including a quilted bedspread in the same toile pattern and the hanging of artwork, which will be chosen by Thomas’s father, Stacey Lloyd. “Everything is being done with love and care,” says Hope of this ongoing project of a lifetime.

Thomas says his grandmother loves hearing “every detail” about the new life being breathed into her beloved Cape Cod refuge. Before heading for a swim with his son, he says of his partnership with Hope Van der Wolk: “It has been so great working with Hope. She just understands everything about my grandmother’s world.”

This is the first in a special series of articles in Cape Cod HOME on the restoration of the homes and gardens on the Mellon estate.

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