A Colorful Cape Cod Home – From Blah to Boom!

I wanted to share my latest project with you – a colorful Cape Cod Home. This is a house located in Sandwich, MA is on a picturesque pond complete with ducks and geese floating by. I know the area well as my parents lived up the street for 30 years. This house is not old, but built to look like a traditional small Cape home. But, it was bland and my color loving client wanted to liven things up!

Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings striped flat weave carpet Colorful Cape Cod Home

See what I mean?



Now, here is an example of why keeping an open  mind is so important: my client wanted to do a painted trim and white walls. My initial reaction was – ugh, a little dated looking. I wasn’t overly enthused by the idea. Partially because that’s what my parents had. My dad was all about Colonial Homes and traditional style. He was as much interested in decorating as my Mom and he did all the work. He even built the kitchen and installed the beams on the ceiling. But, I digress…

My parent’s house on Cape Cod before it was sold.

One of the best things about magazine tear sheets (now known as Pinterest) is that a picture really is worth a thousand words. While my mind went directly to my parents 1990’s decorated home, this is what the client showed me as her inspiration:

Colonial Williamsburg, design by Anthony Baratta
Colonial Williamsburg, design by Anthony Baratta

Ah, Anthony Baratta. Designer in residence at Colonial Williamsburg. One of the kings of color.

Well, this made all the difference.

An important part of my design process – whether I’m working in-person or remotely with clients – is that I start with a Design Style Concept phase. After our initial discovery phase (where the tear sheets come in), I put together a mood board or 1st look (or two) for my client’s to sign off on. It lets me show them where I think the project is headed and give us a chance to course correct before I get too deep into the weeds of designing a space.

This was the cover of my initial design concept that I showed the clients. Taking the Baratta spaces as the primary inspiration, I fleshed it would with some fabric ideas and carpet style. When we were talking about stair runners, I knew immediately that I wanted to do a flat weave striped carpet on the stairs. The client also wanted a braided rug for the living room area and simple window treatments on the windows to add color and warmth, but not block the amazing views.

Cape Cod Coastal Colonial Colorful Linda Merrill

My client’s feedback was generally positive, but she reminded me that she wanted bright and colorful. And she didn’t really like the flat weave striped carpet idea. Hmm… But, I knew I was headed in the right direction. So I started pulling together fabrics and paint colors.

And we settled on these beauties below.

For paint we selected:

Prussian Blue Cloud White Colorful Cape Cod Home

This is where we started:

And this is the new colorful Cape Cod Home!

Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings Colorful Cape Cod Home dining and living area

Custom-made faux roman shades in this lovely botanical fabric were mounted just under the small crown molding above the windows  and custom-made seat cushions were made from a goldenrod colored woven high-performance fabric.

Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings Colorful Cape Cod Home Dining Area

I was so thrilled that my clients trusted me when I suggested that the entire stair case, except the treads, be painted blue! It’s a bold choice and most people are very against painting wood. But in this case, there were competing woods in the space and the honey oak was just not interesting enough to keep.

Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings Cape Cod house colorful Cape Cod Home striped weave carpet window treatment

I was also able to show my client that a fun flat weave carpet with custom installation was the perfect choice for their stair case. Their house has an unusual floor plan – it looks fairly traditional on the outside, but the front door opens directly into the kitchen with the stair case on the left. So, it was important to draw the eye towards something really wow – and a bright blue staircase has a lot of wow! – versus the kitchen. The eye is then drawn to the dining area above and the sitting area with fireplace and spectacular views of the pond, which you can see in the “before” photo above. The day I took these photos was window treatment install day and it was raining like crazy – before it started to snow!

Linda Merrill Colorful Cape Cod Home flat weave stair runner up

Isn’t this striped carpet amazing? It’s graphic and bold, yet completely traditional. The custom installation took my carpet vendor 4 hours as each step was cut and attached in a “Hollywood” style installation.

Hollywood vs. Waterfall Stair runner installation

The reason I selected the Hollywood style is because my clients have a new puppy and she loves to sit on the stairs to look out the window. If their puppy is anything like mine, any looseness or gap in the stair runner would be discovered and destroyed in short order.

Linda Merrill Colorful Cape Cod Home stair runner


I can say, it was terrible weather when we installed the window treatments – but it felt warm and vibrant inside this colorful Cape Cod Home!

22 thoughts on “A Colorful Cape Cod Home – From Blah to Boom!”

  1. WOW! I love these gorgeous and bold colors Linda! And for your clients to trust you completely to even paint the woodwork as window casings and etc, that shows client confidence. Beautiful job!

  2. Oh Linda – this is wonderful. What a huge difference! This home is now so cheerful and happy. The detailing on the stair runner….perfect! Just wonderful!!!

  3. Linda what an incredible transformation! I love how you brought this home to life and your color choices are just right. I wonder how many people visit your clients then go home and want to “colorize” their own homes! Well done!

  4. Beautiful selections, Linda! That stair runner, the colors, the window fabric – it is all so fresh and invitingly cheerful! Congratulations on a beautiful outcome and what must certainly be a delighted client! You totally nailed the vibe from the Baratta room inspiration photo!

  5. Wow, Linda! You did such a great job in interpreting your client’s color -filled vision, while still keeping to their traditional taste. It really is impressive and what a change from the *blah-ish normal room* that was there before!

    And I love how the inspiration image they shared with you changed your own mental perception of what you thought they wanted, based on their verbal description. That’s such a smart part of your process that allowed you to get going on the right foot, almost immediately.

    That stair runner and bright blue moulding really makes this space come alive!

  6. While the color for the trim would be a little bold for me, I like everything you did, and if your clients are happy, that’s a definite win! I love the runner and botanical fabric. It’s an unexpected combination which is very pleasing. I appreciate the cheerful atmosphere you’ve created, and anything is better than another boring, gray/colorless interior….unless that’s what your clients love, of course:).

  7. Hello Linda, I recall many gray days and rainy periods resulting from the tail ends of hurricanes when I was in New England, so these bright colors are perfect to cheer things up. How lucky these people are to be able to step outside and enjoy their pond and woods.

    • It’s definitely cheery! It’s gray today, but it’s also in the 70’s which is crazy! I didn’t get a good photo of it, but they also have an ancient cemetery in front of their house so they tick all the New England-y boxes!

  8. I love what you have done. Not anything I would choose to live with but it is wonderful that someone who loves color goes with what will make them happy. Not another cookie cutter white make over.


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