Hannah’s Summer House
I have a beach house in my head. White (of course), high ceilings, rustic beams, simple kitchen with open shelves, scrubbed wood floors, outdoor shower. I came close to that house for a few years in Marblehead, but we moved before I finished painting (by hand! All that beadboard!) the myriad teeny rooms. One day, that shack may happen, but in the meantime, I love to snoop around for ideas and inspiration. And one stellar version I saw recently belongs to my friend and Interior Designer, Hannah Childs.
The Childs’ original purchase was the garage to the waterfront home across the street. They made do for years, but the prize was the site, not the house, and finally they tore the thing down. Working closely with architect John Allee of Allee Architecture and Design in Millerton, New York, she wanted a second story with master bedroom front and center to maximize the panoramic ocean views, and a happy home for her big (and tall) family. While she longed for something modern and spare, the house needed to suit the neighborhood and environment, with a nod to shingle style New England cottages. Working closely with her architect (they had completed several projects together), she envisioned a shingled barn with soaring spaces and plenty of room for the never ending stream of relations and guests, wet towels, sandy feet, and summer barbecues.
I’ve always thought of Hannah’s taste running to the traditional with bright touches of color, but her repertoire has expanded. Nowadays, her style runs to a stripped back version of contemporary, with clean spare lines, pale woods and swaths of white oak floors, an almost Belgian aesthetic. What sets her apart though, is her dramatic use of color. Let’s just say she’s unafraid (and so unlike me…beige counts as color in my house). The Prussian blue kitchen cabinets set against white walls and massive beams give you an indication that this is a woman who trusts her taste. And that kitchen makes the house and sets the stage for other swipes of color throughout the rooms. It’s so easy to fall back on a completely neutral house, and yes, that’s always pretty, but Hannah’s house is INTERESTING. Antiques mix well with modern pieces, and that beautiful Prussian blue reappears in lamps and pillows and upholstery. She’s slowly adding other summery shades to the mix. I’m a fan of her use of oversized and sometimes odd hanging lamps to center a room, and an unwavering symmetry that is easy on the eye. The large communal spaces adjoin smaller nooks so that you can curl up on a window seat or day bed here or there for some alone time. Through the massive screened porch you come upon a bunkroom that can be configured any number of ways to sleep a passel of kids.
It’s the third year for the family in the house and she’s in no hurry. The landscape is taking shape slowly, and she’s loving choosing art, bit by bit, for the expansive walls. While the house appears picture perfect, there is a happy, lived in feel to it. Hannah easily accomplishes this with carefree fabrics and rugs. She adores indoor/outdoor fabrics in punchy prints from Perennials or Crypton, so no worries of spilled drinks and wet swimsuits. She’s also a convert to indoor/outdoor carpeting everywhere…another easy clean and recommends heading over to Saybrook Country Barn for their selection. She’s been using their acrylic sisal rugs for stair runners (an idea I’m soon to copy).
See more of what Hannah is up to here: www.hannahchildsinteriordesign.com
Find architect John Allee’s work here: John Allee Architect
More style tips and resources:
Fine Paints of Europe: the best paint to customize any cabinetry.
Black Standing Seam Roof (works well with shingle and lasts far longer than cedar shake)
Obsessed with: thick wood open kitchen shelving instead of upper cabinets, colorful patterned concrete tile, grass cloth walls (comes seamless now), black window frames.