Labor of Love

Keeping to a tight budget, a homeowner creates the shabby-chic dream home she’s always wanted.

By Rachel Arroyo • Photography by Roe Osborn
Interior Design: Debbie Lafave of DL Designs
Build: Lineal Inc.
Granite material & installation: James O’Reilly of Dakota Granite & Marble
Window Treatments: Carolyn Weiser and Behind the Blinds

When Bonnie Bryce was looking to purchase a summer home on the Cape in 2011, she came across a two-story home in Centerville. It was not love at first sight. Built in 1982, the 1,628-square-foot home was oddly configured, making it feel far smaller than its footprint suggested. Additionally, the interiors were dark and dated. But the location and the large, private backyard are what sold Bryce. With the hope of one day retiring here, Bryce hired interior designer Debbie Lafave of DL Designs and builder Ben LaMora of Lineal Inc. to create a more functional, comfortable space—all while keeping to a strict budget and an artistic vision: “I always wanted [a] shabby-chic [home],” says the owner.

Opening the layout

IMG_9536A copyTo keep the budget in check, the remodel was completed in phases, starting with the first floor. “With just a few well-thought-out corrections, we were able to transform the space,” says LaMora. To make the first floor feel more spacious, an open floor plan was designed for the main living areas. The old sunroom was converted into a cozy sitting area by taking out a door to the exterior and putting in a wall with a circular window feature, which lets in more light but also hides any trace of the room’s former use as a sunroom by giving it a more formal appearance. “We didn’t want it to look too much like the old sunroom,” says Lafave. For the dining room, which supplanted a bedroom at the rear of the home, Lafave designed a gently curving arch with two columns. “The arches make [the dining room] a little more special,” says Bryce. The most impressive change to the first floor, however, is the new centrally located kitchen—created from a 10-by-15-foot bump-out addition. (The old kitchen, a small, enclosed space marooned off to one side of the front entrance, is now the laundry room.)

Dream kitchen

The kitchen, modeled after a photo Bryce found years ago in a magazine, is light and breezy. “I love the fact that she had a vision and stuck to it,” says Lafave. An overhead accent wall was painted “Glacial Stream” from C2 Paint to replicate the kitchen design in the magazine. The cathedral ceiling with bead board paneling was painted “Windham Cream” by Benjamin Moore to match the subway tile backsplash. And because Bryce loves to cook, Lafave suggested avoiding white countertops. Instead, James O’Reilly, owner of Dakota Granite & Marble, cut and installed “Sienna Bordeaux” granite for the kitchen counters and island. “It’s the same light look without jeopardizing functionality,” says Lafave. Bryce’s other must-have features for the kitchen were a two-tiered kitchen island (“When I got older, I didn’t want to climb up on a bar stool,” says the 5.2-foot homeowner); an open display area for the treasures she finds shopping the Cape; and a second oven, which is inconspicuously tucked away within the kitchen island. “You’ll never regret having a second oven,” swears the homeowner.

Bargain hunting

The master bedroom is decorated with affordable pieces like this bedside table and bed and armoire set from the homeowner’s favorite Cape haunts.

The master bedroom is decorated with affordable pieces like this bedside table and bed and armoire set from the homeowner’s favorite Cape haunts.

Working with LaMora and Lafave, Bryce sought to save money wherever she could on the project. Knowing that the homeowner wanted two baths upstairs—one for her son and a master bath—Lineal Inc. completed the utility layout in the first phase, so the first-floor wouldn’t be torn apart needlessly. Onsite adaptations also helped the bottom line. Lineal Inc. carpenters Jason Slack and Clive Clarke were able to convert an old oak bureau into a vanity for the son’s bathroom. For the master bath, they custom-fitted a sideboard purchased from Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, in Yarmouth; then, O’Reilly cut and installed a “Diano Reale” granite top.

For much of the décor, Bryce, with the help of Lafave, either repurposed old finds or bargain-hunted new ones. “You can go off to an antique shop, find all these odd little pieces, and paint them to create a room,” says Lafave on the secret to the eclectic, budget-friendly design. “But you still need to be proportional,” she cautions, because “size and proportion can make or break a design.” Keeping this in mind, Bryce bought a dining room table and chairs from a consignment shop for $135 and painted it white. A picture frame that now hangs over the living room fireplace was purchased at an antique store, painted white, and then ingeniously fitted with a beveled mirror to create an eye-catching centerpiece. Similarly, a pedestal that Dakota Granite & Marble owner James O’Reilly had stowed away in his garage for 20 years was painted and repurposed as part of the kitchen island’s breakfast table.

Of course there were plenty of new finds incorporated into the décor as well. To balance all the white in the son’s bedroom, Lafave suggested purchasing a dark-stained, canon ball-style bed to anchor the room. “I drew a picture of the bed for the homeowner,” remembers Lafave, “and within two weeks [Bryce] had it and at a budget price.” For the master bedroom, Bryce found a bed and armoire set with a distressed finish from At Home Again in Chatham. Even though the master is small, the largeness of the armoire works well within the space, says Lafave. For the sitting area around the living room fireplace, Lafave recommended a pair of wicker rocking chairs from Cardi’s. “I never would have picked these out myself, but they are perfect and proportionate in size,” says Bryce. It was important that the chairs swivel between the cozy sitting area across from it and the fireplace, making the space twice as functional.

Originally the home was a series of closed off rooms that didn’t flow together. Now it is open and light with an eclectic, shabby-chic look. “I love the open feel,” says Bryce. “It’s my own little Shangri-La.”

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