Fresh Start

A Cape Cod couple discovers the upside of downsizing.

By Jennifer Sperry | Photography by Dan Cutrona

Imagine starting from scratch—by choice. Imagine scaling back and freeing up time for what really matters. Imagine creating a home that resonates with your family’s lifestyle now as opposed to then. The prospect of reinvention is not just tempting; it’s transformative and, ultimately, freeing.

This is exactly the leap that a couple took after raising their three children in an expansive 4,700-square-foot North Falmouth home. “My husband’s construction firm built it and we lived there for 12 years,” says the wife. “The children are grown now and at a certain point we realized it was just too big for us.”

Building a Dream

Finding a site for their future, smaller home was easy: they had been keeping an eye on a buildable lot just a half mile away from their existing house. The lot owner decided to sell at just the right time and the downsizing project began under the guidance of Campbell Smith Architects of Duxbury, Wood Palace Kitchens in Middleboro and K. J. & Sons Landscaping of Cranston, Rhode Island. The husband’s Bridgewater-based construction firm, P. J. Cincotta, Inc., fulfilled the builder role.

With the design and construction teams in place, the couple was well on their way, but their interior needs were another story. “All of our furniture was sold with our other home so we were able to start with a clean slate,” explains the wife. Although sourcing brand-new furnishings was a “fantastic opportunity,” she admits that formulating a cohesive interior from scratch was intimidating.

On the recommendation of her daughter, she turned to Will Hayward and Sue Shockley of Setting the Space to help bring focus to her likes and guide her choices. “I saw what they did for my daughter’s home in Duxbury and loved it,” she says.

Co-owners Will Hayward and Blair Hamaty established Setting the Space nine years ago as a staging company, working out of a barn on their personal property. But with so many clients wanting to purchase what they were seeing in staged designs, the owners decided to branch into retail and also added interior design services to the mix. Currently the company operates a warehouse in Plymouth as well as three stores located in Mashpee Commons on Cape Cod, in Plymouth’s Colony Place and on Plymouth’s Main Street (this three-level showroom doubles as company headquarters). Shockley is lead designer and typically partners with Hayward on interior design projects.

An Early Start

To help communicate her tastes, the wife brought Hayward and Shockley a collection of dog-eared magazines. “Our last home was so traditional,” she says. “I wanted our new house to be more beachy in feel, but still classic, not something I would tire of quickly.” The design team benefited from early inclusion: “We started working before they even broke ground,” explains Hayward. Their involvement was extensive and included furnishings, case goods and bedding as well as paint colors, light fixtures and artwork—they even weighed in on final cabinet and tile selections for the kitchen and bathrooms.

“Setting the Space can do everything from editing and redesigning existing furnishings to soup-to-nuts interior design,” explains Hayward, who adds that he and Hamaty travel frequently, particularly to Paris, to search out retail finds and spot upcoming trends. “We help clients create lifestyles, environments that reflect their personalities,” says the entrepreneur. “And we never project our own egos onto a project,” he adds. “Our goal is to steer clients in a fun and friendly way.”

“Will and Sue were fabulous,” concurs the wife. “After having lived in our previous home for over a decade, I was so out of the loop on building and buying. They really helped me through the process.”

Casual Yet Sophisticated Coastal Appeal

The result of the client/designer collaboration is a casual yet sophisticated interior with subtle coastal influences. The completed living spaces acknowledge the home’s seaside setting but never compromise on the couple’s year-round needs, including visits from their grandsons. Concessions to young occupants include durable, easy-to-clean Sunbrella on the family room’s upholstered furnishings and an ArmorTech finish on guest bedroom case goods (it protects against a host of stains, dings and scratches).

Awash in the pale gray Benjamin Moore hue of “Cumulous Cloud,” the family room, whose seaside flourishes include fish-adorned accent pillows and framed marsh landscapes, is a favorite destination for the wife. “It’s where I have my coffee or just watch TV; it’s very calming,” she describes. Meanwhile, the husband gained a home office with the first-floor study, where a grasscloth wall covering in bold navy blue tops three-quarter wainscoting. A sculptural driftwood desk with inset leather, tobacco leather armchairs and a houndstooth-patterned sisal rug add to the room’s textural complexity.

Upstairs, the master bedroom’s style evokes French country, says Shockley— “We wanted to do something more current than just painted white furniture,” she explains. The sleigh bed and large media armoire veer towards vintage thanks to distressed finishes, while a pair of gray-stained chests double as generously sized night stands. There’s even a sitting area with an ottoman and two oversized tufted chairs, which swivel between the TV and the property’s views of Wild Harbor in the distance.

“We didn’t want a lot of furniture everywhere,” say the homeowners of their desire to pare down. In response, Hayward and Shockley managed to maximize available space without creating visual clutter, allowing key statement pieces to shine. Their restraint is palpable and appropriate for an interior that, now complete, epitomizes a fresh start.

“We went from 4,700 square feet to 2,800 square feet, and we love the smaller scale,” says the wife. “Of course, we’ll always have room for our children and grandchildren, but now, when it’s just the two of us, our home feels just right.”

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