Summer House in Blue

Bold and colorful accents set a bright and breezy tone for a family vacation home in Dennisport.

By Lenore Cullen Barnes | Photos by Christian Scully

With a family as large as Tim and Carolyn Nolan’s, nothing short of a castle is sufficient to happily house them all. The couple has eight siblings between them, yielding 19 cousins for their daughter, Winnie, 3 ½, and son, Dennis, 2. And all are welcome at Castello Nolano, Tim and Carolyn’s recently renovated home in Dennisport.

“We have an open-door policy,” says Carolyn. “Whoever wants to come down just calls and we let them know who’s here.” Such a breezy hospitable attitude befits the distinctively upbeat ambience of the home. “We wanted a cozy, coastal tone,” says Carolyn. “It’s a whimsical fun place. We did some bold things here that you wouldn’t put in your main home.”

Choosing a team

The Nolans bought the property in 2014 after renovating the house next door, which they now rent during the summer. The couple initially hoped to salvage the historic dwelling, but it proved unfeasible, so Tim began researching local design/build companies. He chose Encore Design|Remodel after hearing unanimous praise from the references he called. Once the construction was complete, the interior design process was an enthusiastic collaboration between Carolyn and Encore designer Susan Gerlach, who share similar tastes and favorite colors. “I’d see something I loved on Pinterest and Susan would figure out how we could do it,” Carolyn recalls. “I had a ‘summer house’ board and I kept coming back to the same colors: turquoise and white.”

Summer house essentials

Turquoise and white set the palette for the main living space, an airy expanse of kitchen, dining and living area. The walls are paneled in true white beadboard, accented by doors painted a custom color that Gerlach describes as “Tiffany box blue.” The coffered ceiling’s white beams criss-cross the light blue ceiling, a 75 percent diluted version of the hue on the doors.

A 14-foot length of hard rock maple butcher block tops the island, which defines the kitchen space and is lined with a mix of iron and wood stools. “I made the island as long as I could because I knew every seat would be full,” Gerlach explains.

She terms the kitchen space “appliance central,” with an oversized refrigerator and freezer, wine cooler and two refrigerator drawers lining the wall of custom cabinetry. The island houses a microwave and dishwasher, along with a farm-style sink. The vintage-industrial-style stools complement the reclaimed wood-and-iron dining table.

Customization is key

The built-in banquette was Gerlach’s design, and custom crafted by George Eldredge. “George is the most amazing finish carpenter,” says Gerlach. “He did all the built-ins.” His work includes the window seats with glass-doored cabinets, also designed by Gerlach, that flank the fireplace. The raised hearth and Canyon Creek River Rock render the fireplace a beautiful focal point.

“It’s a big room, with a lot going on,” says Samantha Nicholson, marketing manager for Encore Design | Remodel. “Susan’s really good at figuring out extra storage and using every bit of space.” Carolyn agrees, “Every nook and cranny has an intentional use.” Having extra storage space is a necessity with young children. “With these little people come lots of stuff,” says Carolyn, “so function is very important.”

A rustic flair for a master suite

Form and function combine beautifully in the master bath, which features a zero-clearance shower, barn-board tile on the floor and a rustic vanity built by Eldredge with materials from Cataumet Saw Mill.

The two-story master bedroom is open to the loft, accessed by a ladder. Tone-on-tone wallpaper from Serena & Lilycovers the upper half of the walls, with beadboard below. A chandelier with macramé tied knots from Anthropologie hangs above the bed, anchored by a reclaimed wood-paneled headboard found on Etsy.

A kids’ nautical bunkroom

The bunkroom, with three pairs of bunkbeds, is a child’s fantasy. But its use isn’t limited to the youngsters; with full-and-a-half mattresses, the bunks comfortably accommodate adults as well. Each bunk has a cubby on each end—one with netting for books and magazines at the foot of the bed and an open version at the head with electrical outlets. The rope ladders were a labor of love by Gerlach, who enlisted the aid of a local fisherman to help tie the knots. A built-in bench and drawers beneath the bunks provide storage. Wallpaper in a blue-and-gray geometric pattern covers two walls and the others are painted blue.

“We didn’t hold back on anything in this house,” Carolyn says.  “It’s bold and bright and fun. You can’t not be happy in this house.”  

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