An Antique Bow Roof Cape House Was Transformed into an Art- and Wallpaper-Filled Forever Home

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Chic living room with large windows

Name: Alison Sheffield, husband, Stephen. Kids Milo, 15 and Finn, 12. And Evvie, our rescue pup, and Otto and Puck, our rescue cats
Location: Cohasset, Massachusetts
Type of home: Antique Bow Roof Cape
Size: 3,000 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Five years ago, my husband (an artist/professional photographer) and I (an interior designer) left Boston after 20 years to move to a small seaside town with our two cats and two boys (now 12 and 15). We found the most charming antique bow-roof cape on our first visit to look at houses and immediately fell in love. After a long stint as city dwellers, we weren’t looking for anything too rural; the ridiculously charming house we found is on Main Street (traffic!); it’s an easy walk to two town villages (dinners out!), and the train station is just down the road (easy access to city!).

And the house had enough space for a darkroom, a workshop, a home studio, office space for each of us, and for the boys to have their own bedrooms. The house had been lovingly cared for by the previous owners, so we were worried at first that it would take a long time to make it feel like it was ours. We also worried about all the furniture we needed to fill it. Our condo in the city was 1,200 square feet, and this house is almost three times the size. We arrived with one sofa — the sellers had at least five!

The house needed few big updates (moving the laundry from basement to first floor was at the top of the list), but many cosmetic ones that we took on ourselves. Stripping rooms and rooms of wallpaper, painting kitchen cabinets as well as every single wall, learning how to hang wallpaper (we’ve completed three rooms and a ceiling), updating gardens, rebuilding the white picket fence, etc.

Five years in and the house is utterly and completely our own. And it’s furnished — alarms set for midnight sales, stalking consignment shops, and my professional knowledge about what to splurge on and what to save on allowed us to fill the house exactly the way we wanted to — with a mixture of antiques and new pieces, some more-expensive and some not-so-expensive items, family pieces and yard sale finds, accented with to-the-trade fabrics and wallpapers, which all together create a collected-over-time, warm, layered family home. And art-filled. We added to our already extensive art collection with many new acquisitions from local artists, the first of which was a street scene of our old Newbury Street stomping ground. We immediately became immersed in Cohasset’s vibrant art scene. Stephen is on the board at the South Shore Art Center, and we have hosted in our home various events to benefit the center. He teaches there, I volunteer for one of the big fundraisers, and our boys love the art classes offered.

The home’s unfinished (for now) carriage house provides the perfect space for Stephen to create large-scale projects and commissions, and to open up for Cohasset’s annual open studios weekend every fall. And to store the antique wooden motor boat he spent much of last year restoring. We added a bluestone patio and plunge pool to create a tiny but dreamy oasis on our half acre, and have edited and enhanced the beautifully landscaped gardens and added window boxes. I became (out of necessity, at least at first!) an avid gardener. The pressure of a house on Main Street will do that. And though only intending to repaint it, we ended up remaking the entire white picket fence that runs along the property after realizing that everything was rotten except for the cedar uprights. After five years, we are happily ensconced in our character- and art-filled forever home with our two cats, two boys, and beloved rescue pup.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Art-filled, charming, elegance

What is your favorite room and why? So hard to choose. Probably the sunroom with the brick floor, fireplace, and three walls of windows.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Tortoise glass cannisters (for $1.25!) from our local consignment store.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Surround yourself primarily with things you love and find beautiful.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.