Fortunately for little bare feet, there are few toe-stubbing thresholds dividing inside from out in the Lovato family's Cape Cod summer home. Patrice and Walter's four children pad happily across gently worn interior chestnut floors to a sun-warmed plank porch and the cool grassy lawn beyond.
This seamless connection lures the Lovatos from their San Francisco home to the Massachusetts cape for most of the summer, with Walter flying back and forth for his work. They're not alone, however. Walter is Italian, and much of his family lives in Europe. So, come summer, his parents fly from Italy and a brother from Paris. Nephews, cousins, some with nannies in tow, also make the trek from Europe to the Cape for a holiday in the sun.
"This is a happy extended family," says Maureen Footer, Patrice's sister and the interior designer who helped the family renovate. "They are an old-fashioned, easygoing family that embraces a sort of la dolce vita or que sera sera vein in the summer."
A two-tiered wood chandelier with a distressed finish hangs from a beam in the center of the great room--another nod to Italian design. Below that sits a boxy woven-fiber chaise longue that allows seating from both sides. Designer Maureen Footer also arranged cozy seating areas on either side of the chaise, each defined by nubby cream-colored rugs.
"I wanted to respect the space--not fill it up--and make it feel light, airy, and summery," Footer explains. "But in a space like that, furniture needs to have an impact, so we chose forms that are strong and clean." Footer maintained a consistent color palette, using "yards and yards and yards of a pale blue linen.
Because Footer lives in New York City and the Lovatos in San Francisco, Patrice asked for her sister's help. The designer started by introducing Patrice and Walter to Massachusetts architect Reed A. Morrison. "He has a great understanding of vernacular Cape Cod architecture and also modern design," Footer says.
He brought both aesthetics to the project, proposing the Lovatos renovate the existing old house and expand on its history with a barnlike addition. "The thought was, if you add a barn onto a house, it can be any size and look appropriate, and the existing residence would retain its small-house feel," Morrison says. The town's historic commission agreed, and the two-level lofted structure added about 2,665 square feet of living space that blends gracefully with the New England landscape.
The barn inspiration continues inside, as well. An open floor plan has the great room, kitchen, and dining room sharing a 32x65-foot space.
In the dining room, a French antique table is surrounded by Barton-Sharpe Windsor chairs painted an unexpected Benjamin Moore "Deep Mulberry." Small crystals are woven in wires of the ethereal Brand van Egmond chandelier. Antique shelves pop against a wall painted bright green.
The kitchen is appropriately centered in the addition, with views to the porch, dining room, and great room. "This is an Italian family cooking, so the kitchen was central to that experience," Footer says. A massive 10x4-foot island is topped with a solid slab of two-inch-thick Calcutta Gold marble, providing visual weight. The island cabinets are fastened with chunky nickel latches that resemble those on vintage refrigerators. "Patrice was adamant about finding those," Footer says. "They're so tactile and have this sense of the 1920s that really appealed to her." Footer designed ribbed-glass light fixtures that hang on a nickel bar above the island. "The spheres are Murano glass, which ties back to the family's Italian heritage," she explains.
The marble-topped island is centered in the addition. The work area has views of the porch and outdoors. Two stainless-steel Sub-Zero refrigerators with bottom freezers flank the center range. Behind the range wall is a walk-in pantry.
Bleached wood walls and oculus windows on each end of the house keep the interior light. Shelves add height to the sitting area, furnished with Walters Wicker woven club chairs and an Avery Boardman sleeper sofa. Blue fabric on the seating is John Robshaw "Aleppo."
A bedroom opposite the sitting area has twin beds from John Himmel based on a Jean-Michel Frank design. Bed fabrics are John Robshaw linens.