Dream Come True
June 2, 2015
A couple buy a Provincetown cottage they’ve long coveted, and turn it into the chic, charming getaway they always knew it could be.
Text by Lisa E. Harrison Photography by Keller + Keller Produced by Kyle Hoepner
They say timing is everything. That adage took an ironic twist when it came to Dominic and Christopher’s house hunt in Provincetown. The couple had been vacationing in the coastal community for years when they decided to buy. A search led them to a townhouse across the street from the water; a year’s worth of renovations later, and they were settled.
It was May, just in time for the season kickoff. A few months later, their real estate agent phoned. The abridged conversation went something like this: “You know that house you always wanted? It’s for sale.”
She was referring to a tiny cottage in Delft Haven that sits apart from the seven other houses that make up the community, on a private beach on Provincetown’s harbor. The location—secluded, waterfront—was special, even one-of-a-kind. Six years earlier, the couple had rented an adjacent cottage. “I had said to Christopher, ‘That is our house. If it ever comes on the market, we have to buy it,’” remembers Dominic.
True to his word, Dominic didn’t hesitate. “I never went into it,” he says. “I just wanted that house.”
Before they signed on the dotted line, the couple, who were living and working in New York City at the time, sent Herbert Acevedo as their proxy. The interior designer and friend had renovated their townhouse and co-owns Provincetown-based Shor Design with his partner, architectural designer Kevin Miller. “It was a bit ramshackle, but the potential was definitely there,” Acevedo recalls.
“We paid over the asking price before it even came on the market,” says Dominic. And with that, the renovations began.
Architecturally speaking, the couple didn’t change much; the 850-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath floor plan remained intact. Miller was called upon largely for input on exterior updates, including new shingles, shutters, doors, and windows. He also added two French doors off the living room, a custom outdoor shower with saloon-style doors, and a wraparound mahogany deck that makes an ideal stage for summer entertaining.
Acevedo, who had recently finished the couple’s townhouse, visited them in their Manhattan apartment to broaden his understanding of their lifestyle and sensibilities. The takeaway? Both Dominic and Christopher work in the luxury goods industry and acknowledge strong opinions and distinct aesthetics. “Chris is more structured and contemporary,” says Dominic, “and I’m more fancy and Old World.”
It was up to Acevedo to strike a balance and create a sophisticated space that would still read as relaxed. “It’s a cottage on the beach, but this was not going to be a normal beach cottage,” he says.
He began with a soft, neutral palette, colors that echo the sea, sky, and sand. “When people come in, they add the color—and Dominic and Christopher have some very colorful friends,” jokes Acevedo.
To establish a sense of unity throughout, he carried multiple design elements from room to room. He extended the horizontal wainscoting that adorned some of the living room walls to the rest of the space, save the kitchen. Walls are brushed in Benjamin Moore’s Collingwood, a pale, warm gray that changes with the light, and the pine floors were bleached and then white-washed. Sisal area rugs lend texture and a beachy feel (and hide sand), and blue acts as a unifying accent color.
Creating an airy space was paramount in tight quarters. Two new French doors that flank the wood-burning fireplace helped to open the living/dining room and join outside and in. The doors are often flung open, allowing coastal winds to flow freely and guests to breeze in and out. “Provincetown is a haven for artists,” notes Acevedo. “The reason is because of the incredible light. We wanted to bring that incredible light indoors.”
Entertaining is a central part of the couple’s summer, something Acevedo took into consideration. The goal was a cottage that showed sophistication but wasn’t precious, a space that could be dressed up for a dinner party or dressed down for a deck party. All of the furnishings were sourced through Acevedo’s nearby retail store/showroom, Shor, and the designer took care to mix antiques with modern pieces, more formal accents with those that are more casual.
In the living/dining room, Amsterdam chairs by Hickory Chair, painted an antique ivory finish, surround a classic English-style mahogany table (a nod to Dominic’s more refined aesthetic), while a mirrored limed-oak cabinet that stashes the TV evokes midcentury modern American design and speaks to Christopher’s more contemporary leanings. Above the cabinet, Acevedo hung a mirror with a button-shell frame to give the room a spacious feel.
The streamlined aesthetic that defines the small sitting area carries into the galley kitchen. Acevedo relied on open shelving and symmetry for a sense of space; slate-gray granite countertops and cabinets painted Farrow & Ball’s Stiffkey Blue lend depth and conjure the sea at night. Proof that every square inch is utilized in the user-friendly space: the washer/dryer (note the pop of red) is also tucked under the counter.
Acevedo made equally good use of space in the two bedrooms, both of which have en suite bathrooms. He likens the look to that of a “fancy hotel room.” As in the living quarters, the designer mixed and matched. In the master bedroom, a Ficks Reed headboard shares space with vintage nightstands and an abstract painting of bunnies by Manhattan-based artist Hunt Slonem (the couple collect his work).
Given the tight dimensions, Acevedo reasoned the guest room needed a punch of color in the form of a custom duvet in Rogers & Goffigon fabrics. He found two “super skinny” antique French faux-bamboo nightstands that just fit, and opted for sconces to free up valuable tabletop space for books and treasures. Nine small, square paintings mounted in a grid pattern depict the shoreline and sky, a nod to the coastal paradise that lies just outside the window.
And it’s precisely that ideal coastal location that made Dominic fall in love with the cottage, sight unseen. “It’s a special space and a special property,” says Dominic. And now that the work is complete and the duo settled, the fun comes in the form of frequent deck-side gatherings enhanced by salt air, crashing waves, and raised glasses of rosé. •