Back in the 1930s, Cape Cod-style houses saw a boom in popularity. Through the 1950s, these structures were adapted to modern needs, particularly with Colonial Revival embellishments, and were built all over the Northeastern U.S. and Canada.
Originating in New England in the 17th century, a Cape Cod house is a low, broad, single-story frame building with a moderately steep pitched gable roof, a large central chimney and very little ornamentation. The simple symmetric design was typically constructed of local materials to withstand the stormy weather of Cape Cod, featuring a central front door flanked by multi-paned windows.
Over the next several generations, the homes began emerging as 1 1/2 stories, with wooden shutters and shingle exteriors. Owners added wings onto the rear or sides, typically single-storied, as well as dormers, which were implemented to increase space, light and ventilation.
Today, these homes are still being built across the country by popular request. In Santa Monica, CA, a local interior designer adapted the classic Cape Cod-style for a couple who desired a clean, crisp look throughout their new home. Christopher Grubb, founder of Arch-Interiors Design Group in Beverly Hills, CA, used a range of ceramic, porcelain and stone tile from Ann Sacks in West Hollywood, CA, to help bring the owners’ vision to fruition.
“The clients were very involved,” said Grubb, who also designs a product line of designer bathroom vanities, known as The C.G. Collection. “They requested a timeless look with some visual interest.”
In the kitchen, an open layout embraces a more contemporary design with wooden beams, incorporating expansive windows that allow abundant natural light during the day. “As cooks and entertainers, the clients wanted this to be a welcoming and comfortable place to congregate and prepare meals,” Grubb explained of the almost 200-square-foot space. “In keeping with their ‘modern traditional’ aesthetic, they wanted the kitchen to have an updated farmhouse look.”
Pillowed 3- x 6-inch Calacatta Borghini tiles clad the walls, which add subtle hints of gray. Sheets of Calacatta Borghini mosaics, in a large herringbone pattern, form a complementary backsplash above the stove. On the floor, 12- x 24-inch tiles from Casalgrande Padana’s Metalwood series were implemented in the dark gray color, “Piombo,” which translates to “lead in Italian; a chevron pattern was formed to create a visual distinction between the floor and walls.
Moving into the master bathroom, the all-white theme continues. On the floors and walls, Grubb chose 4- x 8-inch rectangular tiles from the Arden collection. The white subway tiles were framed with an intricately crafted border of Piccolino Mosaics’ “Trifoil” design. The semi-circular design incorporates Eclipse, Athens Grey and Athens Silver Cream marble in a honed finish, and adds a nice color contrast on the walls, main floor and shower floor.
“The clients chose this tile because of the clean, timeless feel,” said Grubb. “The mosaic was used as an expression of art on the shower floor.”
For the home’s 55-square-foot powder room, a colorful statement was made to veer away from tradition using mint green ceramic tiles. “The clients wanted to avoid an all-white expected Cape Cod-style bathroom,” said Grubb. “The color has a warm and timeless quality in its tone.”
The 4 1/4- x 4 1/4-inch embossed tiles from the Michael S. Smith Labyrinth collection clad the walls, which are part of the Made by Ann Sacks™ collection that features handcrafted designs from seven different designers. The “Seville” pattern was employed — a nod to the Moorish gardens and mazes that inspired the design — which is capped off at the ceiling by a decorative liner that acts as crown molding and a cornice piece to accentuate the textured design.
“The subtle combination of textures is kept successful by staying with a monochromatic palate,” the designer explained. “A Carrara marble vanity top and floor provide a nice compliment to the tile. The vanity on chrome legs is simple and open, as not to distract from the tile, and continues the traditional style of the home.
“The round back plate of the sconces complements the pivot-mirror mounts and juxtaposes the more linear feel of the tile installation,” Grubb added.
Finalizing the design
When designing the 106-square-foot master bathroom, Grubb had to pay extra attention to the shower bench and niche’s shelves to ensure the proper material was implemented to withstand the constant moisture. “The solution we came up with was to use a slab of Thassos [marble],” he said. “Also, it was tricky to successfully find a stopping point for the border and top of shower.”
Grubb’s solution was onhand, as the Michael S. Smith Labyrinth collection offers a variety of accent pieces, which he used to cap off the tops of the decorative tile. “We did multiple site visits to oversee placement of mosaic and blending of the field tile, look at tile delivery to see if sealed tile needing any blending, and to ensure the alignment of mosaic on the floor border and the floor of the shower were joined properly and centered,” said Grubb.
Altogether, the remodel took about 10 months to complete, and Grubb has received an overwhelming response since. “The client loves it,” he said. “Since putting the project images on our website, this is now the most inquired about project.”
Santa Monica, CA
Interior Designer: Arch-Interiors Design Group, Beverly Hills, CA
Tile Supplier: Ann Sacks Tile & Stone, Inc., West Hollywood, CA (Arden collection, Calacatta Borghini collection, Piccolino Mosaics, Michael S. Smith Labyrinth collection, Metalwood series by Casalgrande Padana)