Mally Skok’s Colorful Cape Cod HomeText by Erika Ayn Finch Photography by Sarah Winchester Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent
Mally Skok does not believe in redecorating her home, which might seem counterintuitive for an internationally published, award-winning designer of interiors, furniture, and fabric. Case in point: her three children, now in their twenties and thirties, still have their own rooms in the seaside Falmouth, Massachusetts, home Skok designed with architect Sally Weston twenty-plus years ago. “If you’re thoughtful the first time around, then all you really need to do is add layers to your home,” muses Skok. “I personally don’t think it’s chic to throw everything away and do it all over again. But I’m also very sentimental.”
Skok, who is originally from South Africa, moved to New England from London with her husband, David, twenty-five years ago. They purchased an early 1900s house in Falmouth that had been renovated in the 1970s. When it came time to build a place more conducive to the family’s needs, the couple scoured the area, but they couldn’t find a better location than the one they already had. They decided to build a new home on the site, retaining the original footprint of the house, pool, and pool house. Skok refused to sacrifice any of the surrounding trees, either. The result is a home that feels secluded.
With family scattered around the world, Skok wanted plenty of bedrooms for visiting relatives. Her wish list also included custom storage for golf clubs, a covered porch large enough for comfy furniture, and a closed-off kitchen to keep cooking smells contained. She accomplished the latter with double-sided glass cupboards that open to both the kitchen and family room. “Those cupboards gave me the opportunity to spend the rest of my life in junk stores,” Skok says with a wink, referring to the collection of glass and ceramic serving ware tucked away in the cabinets. “I have more $20 bits of glass than you can imagine.”
Speaking of those “junk shops,” the house provides a place for Skok’s other collections, including vintage oyster plates and baskets from South Africa that remind her of her homeland. She says that adding to the collections has helped the home grow and evolve organically over time without the need to refresh. It also gives her an excuse to trawl vintage shops in nearby Sandwich and Dennis.
Here’s another element thoughtfully placed throughout the Skok home: accent chairs. Skok’s most cherished come from the now defunct Antiques on Cambridge Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and she’s had some of them for as long as she’s lived in Falmouth. Her favorite place to position a chair? In the bathroom. She says it’s the ideal spot to place clothes, it breaks up the hard surfaces, and it provides an opportunity to add a bit of vintage to a modern bathroom.
Aside from gravitating toward pieces with a past, Skok steadfastly refuses to do away with items she loves simply because they are no longer in vogue. She points to the master bedroom’s yellow toile curtains as something that might not be on trend but are beloved because, when she stumbled upon them, she had never seen toile in that sunny shade. “Plus, the yellow with the blue ocean behind it is a great combo,” says someone with a particularly keen eye for color.
That sentimentality and those types of stories infuse every corner and object in Skok’s home, whether it is a jar full of sea glass or a painting by a friend. As an interior designer, she encourages that sort of thinking when she’s working with her clients, focusing on highlighting their personalities rather than the style du jour through design. “Interior design should bring out the personal in people,” she says.
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