The Colors of Water
In a lakeside home, cozy and comfortable interiors are inspired by the natural world.
Amy Mitchell’s clients, a Connecticut-based couple with two teenage sons and a pet Beagle mix, were not looking for a grand home. “The homeowners didn’t want space for space’s sake,” says Mitchell, whose interior design company, Home Glow Design, is based in Hopkinton and has a significant online presence. “They wanted it to be comfortable, with a stylish yet functional design that would suit their family and their budget.” Their newly constructed, light-filled lakeside home fits the bill to a T.
Designed by Bonin Architects and built by McGray & Nichols, the cottage-style home sits on lakeside property purchased decades ago by the wife’s grandfather and has been the site of many family vacations the wife enjoyed while growing up. When she met Mitchell, she said she wanted, “Open, bright and comfortable! Legs curled up on couches. Bedrooms that are sanctuaries and cozy.”
The wife also hoped “to incorporate old photos and family artifacts with some mid-century pieces peppered here and there, and natural transitions from inside the house to outside.”
Mitchell listened to her client’s requests and ran with them, adding in a good dose of what she’s known for: creating the perfect “forever home.” Design touches that reflect the history of the property are sprinkled throughout the new home, with shades of blue and green, botanical print fabrics and wall coverings, and even furniture with organic shapes, all chosen to mimic the home’s setting and bring the outdoors in.
The couple currently uses the house for vacations, but intends for it to someday serve as their full-time home. “The property is an enticing mixture of level topography, outstanding mountain and lakeside views, and sunny southern exposure,” observes architect Jeremy Bonin, adding that a large portion of the house provides single-story living that will accommodate the homeowners into their retirement years.
The interior design aesthetic of the house is introduced by the entry, where tree-patterned, leaf-green paper covers the walls and dark gray, slate-like porcelain provides durable flooring. A Hudson Valley Lighting ceramic lamp with brass-colored accents adds a dash of sophistication atop an antique campaign chest (sourced by Mitchell) with brass pulls and inlaid detail.
Across the entry, a Shaker-style bench enables guests to sit or set down parcels while wall hooks provide a handy spot for bags and jackets. Nearby, the wife’s heirloom rug is a key piece that inspired the color palette for the entire home—warm shades of green, marigold, blue, gray and persimmon.
The entry floor’s dark gray tile continues into the powder room that features a custom sink fashioned to look like it sits on an old iron cart. Paired with a grass cloth wall covering, v-groove paneling represents millwork that Mitchell repeated throughout the house for stylistic continuity.
An adjacent laundry room has open shelves, cabinetry and, as the wife requested, spaces to air-dry clothing—including a nifty retractable rod mounted on the ceiling near windows dressed with café curtains that filter the light and are made of easy-to-clean, indoor-outdoor fabric that is resistant to mildew. A dog wash below the windows is lined with blue-on-green penny tile.
Walking into the main portion of the house leads to the fireplace in the living room, where sweeping views of the lake and mountains are given pride of place thanks to a cluster of windows—some of which are muntin-less, a style that repeats elsewhere in the house. The living room’s iron chandelier, chosen by Mitchell for its modern twist on historical design, is unobtrusive, while on the living room floor, wide-planked, engineered white oak with character knots conveys warmth and is softened by a rug with a subtly tribal pattern in shades of off-white and gray.
High quality and very durable, all the rugs in the house are 100 percent wool or a wool blend and most are hand-knotted. The living room rug is a cut-pile carpet weave tailored to fit the space and very practical. “It’s harder for dogs to get their claws into,” says Mitchell.
The family’s two teenagers fight good-naturedly over who gets to use the Gabby Home chair and stool near the fireplace. A modern take on a traditional Morris chair, the stylish seat reclines and is covered in a stain-resistant, indoor-outdoor fabric that resembles a chunky linen weave. Next to the chair, a root-style side table provides an organic element as well as a counterpoint to the room’s moss-green velvet sectional, custom-made by Charles Stewart Co. in North Carolina and treated to be stain and UV resistant. “The wife loves green,” says Mitchell. “She specifically requested a green velvet sofa that she had long dreamed of.”
The coffee table’s whitewashed, cerused oak features a starburst pattern, and nonidentical end tables were intentionally chosen by Mitchell for their differences. “I didn’t want them to match,” she says. “I wanted everything to look collected and selected because of its natural beauty—things that tie together but still have a certain je ne sais quois.”
Rounding out the living room, a low-back daybed in front of the expansive windows doesn’t block the stunning view of the lake. “I was going for maximum seating,” Mitchell says. “Here, you can even lie down and relax with a book.” The piece is covered in a Perennials fabric with a pale-olive ticking stripe, a design that meshes with the sofa and rug but also nods to historical camp fabric.
Wooden ceiling beams help delineate the dining area and also continue the home’s blend of rustic, traditional and modern. A painting, along with custom blue-striped host chairs by Charles Stewart, adds splashes of color at the custom oak trestle table, which Mitchell describes as “a modern twist on a classic,” while rattan chairs with woven backs and seats keep the vibe casual. Overhead, a contemporary light fixture with off-white ovals and brass is proportionate to the space whether the table is extended with leaves or not.
Off of the dining area, French doors lead to the wife’s office, a narrow space with an oval window and botanical mural wallpaper that almost makes you feel as if you’ve wandered into a magical woodland. Mitchell says this room is her favorite space in the house. “I’d saved that mural paper, hoping to find the
perfect project for it,” she shares. The custom ash desk, long and slim to fit the dimensions of the room, houses a file cabinet and a pull-out printer. The desk’s drawer fronts, along with a ceiling light of concentric circles and twine, provides texture while a quirky end table of carved, singed wood contrasts with the daybed’s ivory tufted cushion.
The homeowners, wanting to avoid an all-stainless kitchen, chose an ivory-colored range with a v-grooved hood that adds texture to the aesthetic. A generous 12-foot island anchoring the space has a farmhouse sink and a durable Neolith porcelain countertop etched with delicate, pale gray veining and brass inlay that ties with the cabinetry hardware. Sconces over open shelves blend new with historical design, and slim brass pulls on the kitchen cabinetry add shine.
Above the island, a pair of Visual Comfort wide-bottomed pendant lights with clear glass, brass and oil-rubbed bronze were carefully selected by Mitchell. “I had to find island fixtures that would work with the not overly high ceiling,” she says, “but would have a big enough diameter” to illuminate the large island—all while not blocking the view.
A slider leads to a sun-drenched, reclaimed stone patio with an adjacent outdoor cooking area, and off the kitchen in another direction, the primary bedroom features a bed covered in moire fabric that resembles the shimmer of water. The family’s sepia-toned horse painting above the bed lends a historical touch, while on the ceiling, a gilded iron light fixture by Crystorama evokes a blooming golden flower. Bernhardt stools with green botanical seats and metal bottoms that resemble birch twigs sit at the foot of the bed, while an hourglass-shaped wood table next to a chaise lounge provides another organic touch.
For the primary bedroom’s south-facing windows, both privacy and glare reduction were achieved with opaque roller shades in a natural fiber for light control. Above the dresser, a round mirror evokes a ship’s portal. The primary bathroom’s shower tile was finished with zellige, a Moroccan handcrafted terra-cotta tile, in variegated water hues. The room’s shower seat and countertops are the same Neolith as in the kitchen, and v-groove once again brings in the all-important element of texture.
Ascending to the second floor, a pale wood-and-cable staircase sports a chevron-patterned runner in a variegated blue weave that carries out the home’s palette of water colors. Family oars on the wall handily fill the staircase’s generous vertical wall space while keeping the feel open and light. In the loft, additional pieces of sporting equipment—snowshoes and a water ski—also serve as decorative pieces.
Oars again decorate a wall in the upstairs bedroom currently used by a son in the family. “The upstairs rooms don’t have very high ceilings,” Mitchell notes. “They’re seven and a half feet. But the light is beautiful, so we put satin gloss on the ceiling to catch the light.” The room, with an en suite bathroom and the loft just beyond, will someday serve as an ideal spot for a visiting couple to stay—perhaps one of the sons and his spouse, “so we didn’t want it to scream ‘teenage boy,’” Mitchell says. “We wanted it to be balanced—not masculine or feminine but appropriate for (anyone).”
Variegated penny tile makes a repeat appearance in the bathroom, and a shower tucked under the eaves is covered in blue-gray, elongated chevron-pattern tiles. “It’s mid-century and fun,” Mitchell observes. “You can do lots of fun things with inexpensive tile.” Seafoam green on the walls ties it all together.
A second son’s bedroom has a custom Roman shade with birds perched in a fruit tree, cut to tuck perfectly against the angled ceiling, while a guest room presents a more autumnal vibe, with a lime-colored duvet paired with a burnt-orange bed skirt. Geese on the bed’s pillows might be heading south for the winter, and Schumacher drapes depict oak leaves and acorns. Tree bark-like wallpaper and rattan sconces help the room feel homey and lived in, along with side tables in avocado green and a dresser with distressed gray paint.
Mitchell still revels in the memory of working on this home, one for which the homeowners sought her help. “Having an interior designer as a part of the design team at the early stages (of home planning) was enormously helpful in the eventual success of the home’s overall design,” she says, as it helped to maximize the functionality, flow and use of space in the house. “I wish,” she says, “more homeowners had this insight.”