A Garden Home Makeover

Furnishings from a former home are re-imagined inside a new abode.

By Laurie Higgins | Photography by Michael J. Lee



The owners were particular about paint color, choosing a custom blue-green blend for the bookshelves and Benjamin Moore Sea Shell OC120 for the walls.

When the homeowners moved from a large house in Truro to a garden home in the Village at Duxbury, they didn’t like the word “downsize.” Instead, they like “rightsized,” because the new home is more in line with their current lifestyle. Although the home had many great features—an open floor plan; vaulted ceilings and a loft; elegant built-in shelving, hardwood floors and moldings—it was awash in cream colors and cried out for a style update befitting the new owners.

“We loved the space,” the homeowner says. “It’s bright and sunny and open, but it was a different scale from the old one, so I knew I needed some help decorating.”

She hired interior designer Linda Merrill of Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings in Duxbury. They met for lunch and hit it off immediately. “Linda was so much fun to shop with,” the homeowner says. “I was really involved in the process and she really understood me.”

Past meets present

The first thing Merrill did was ask to see photos of the Truro home’s interior to help determine what needed to be replaced or added in the new home. To her delight, the homeowner had beautiful collections—special items picked up in her travels—and a lot of antiques.

“She has huge collections of things that were sentimental and interesting to look at,” Merrill says. “When she started opening the boxes, I was like a kid in a candy shop.”


For a cohesive look, paint colors used in the living room are carried over to the kitchen.

For the living room, Merrill used a beautiful Oriental rug as a jumping off place. The predominantly red rug integrates other colors, including a subdued shade of blue-green, which Merrill used as the background color for the bookshelves. Against this sophisticated hue, the homeowners’ collections really stand out. They bought a white sectional sofa, and Merrill reupholstered two similar but not identical chairs in a matching neutral fabric to create a sense of unity.

A kitchen color story

The same shade of blue-green was used on the kitchen walls. The homeowners’ collection of antique earthenware jugs is displayed on top of the cabinets. Glass shelves on a small, angled wall were replaced with a new built-in jelly cupboard.

“The kitchen had wallpaper and lighter countertops originally,” Merrill says. “We went with very dark, almost black, leathered granite countertops and a new white backsplash of bead board, so there is nice contrast.”

Mixing old and new


Tucked into a loft overlooking the living room, an alcove with guest beds was painted a space-defining Newburyport Blue HC-155 by Benjamin Moore.

Merrill enjoyed the challenge of complementing the homeowners’ special old pieces with new furnishings. The dining room table, for example, is new but made from reclaimed wood to look old. For chairs the homeowner already owned, Merrill designed new cushions. The chandelier is new, but two paintings of the Pamet River are from the homeowners’ former home.

More river paintings are displayed gallery-style in the library/den, which has a sofa-bed for guests. Another dual-purpose area is the loft overlooking the living room. Here, the husband created an office for himself, and Merrill painted an alcove blue as a guest room for the grandchildren. Even though the space is small, it is colorful and cheery.

“We repainted everything because the homeowner was very particular about paint, even the off-white in the living room,” Merrill says. “I always tell clients to paint swatches on the walls because the same colors don’t look the same [in every room].

Merrill always advises clients to pick a paint color they love but wait until the fabrics and furnishings are all chosen to finalize it. It’s easier to match paint to fabric than it is to find fabric to match paint.

“People always rush the decision on paint,” she says. “It really is a process of trial and error.”

Interior Design: Linda Merrill of Decorative Surroundings




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