Designer Liz Caan Gives a Cape Cod Beach House the “English Cottage Treatment”

liz caan cape cod exterior

An English Countryside-Inspired Home on Cape CodCopyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

“Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links.”

If you’re looking to create a sleek, modern home, Boston-based designer Liz Caan will refer you to another creative, but if it’s layered, colorful, and well-collected living you seek, she’s your perfect match. And Caan recently found her own decorating soulmates in a local family of five dreaming of the ultimate beach retreat on the shores of Cape Cod.

“We design homes that are very comfortable and full of personality; they are never just for anyone, they are for someone,” says Caan. “I think you can tell when you walk into our spaces that someone specific lives there, and that’s what drives me and how I design.”

Caan says she loves that initial client meeting where she can figure out what’s most important to them and translate those desires, along with a vivid color palette, into an interior full of distinct moods and an energy that represents who they are. This was the exact jumping off point that inspired the design for the clients’ newly purchased Cape Cod home, which at the time needed a complete gut renovation, thanks to elements like a sunken living room, faux pink marble-painted columns, and other inexpensive-looking materials and fixtures that made the property feel like it belonged “in a different place and a different era,” according to Caan.

“These clients were really adventurous and fun, and they appreciate beautiful, well-made things,” says the designer. “The husband and wife are also complete opposites but really embrace each other’s differences, and I wanted to take that in stride to make this home comfortable for everyone and ensure it felt uniquely theirs.”

liz caan cape cod living room
This breezy gathering space features a Soane flush mount and Julian Chichester lounge chairs that bring a bit of unexpected British flair.Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

While she knew right away that this family needed something more elevated than just another quintessential New England beach house, Caan also wanted it to feel contextual and complementary of the striking sea views. The wife is a collector and had quickly started bringing in local ceramics, dioramas of antiquated ships, among other items that lent to a “more is more” decorating approach that didn’t feel too perfect or precious.

Caan began scheming up an “English cottage hits the Cape” design that fit the family’s spontaneity, vibrant personality, and desire for the home to wear well with them over time. The designer says it helped that the family was willing to invest in this property like it was their primary residence, which meant they could opt for higher-quality pieces that would lend themselves well to this aesthetic of aging gracefully through the years.

liz caan cape cod home bar

“British interiors are so livable and utilize better-quality pieces that will age better and look more lived in over time,” says Caan. “We didn’t want anything too precious or impermeable, rather we chose pieces that showcased the fact that life happens, and in the best ways.”

The designer struck an artful balance of old-meets-new at every turn, but the kitchen is one of the best examples of her showmanship. While the cook space is outfitted in Waterworks cabinetry and hardware, as well as a covetable La Cornue hood and range, Caan says the room “really needed something crusty to make it feel right.” She remembered an incredible antique island discovered at Brenda Antin’s L.A. showroom several years ago and, as luck would have it, the piece was still available. It was just the item to make this space sing and feel like the true heart of the home.

liz caan cape cod kitchen

The light-drenched kitchen offers a delightful balance of old and new that feels equally luxurious and inviting.Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

“It was so nice to have a client who embraced imperfection and loved crusty, old things that we could pair against cleaner backdrops,” Caan says. “They still wanted the Waterworks fixtures throughout the house and we did lots of nice lighting from Urban Electric and others, but it was a really fun collaboration that was also focused on making this home feel like a place to play.”

EXTERIOR

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

The home sits on a lush lot with unbeatable views of the Atlantic.

ENTRY

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

An Èlitis wallcovering gives a textural welcome to guests. Console, Hollywood at Home. Mirror, Mecox Gardens.

LIVING ROOM

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

This breezy gathering space features a Soane flush mount and Julian Chichester lounge chairs that bring a bit of unexpected British flair.

KITCHEN

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

The showstopping island is a vintage find from Brenda Antin. Cabinetry and hardware, Waterworks. Stove and hood, La Cornue.

BREAKFAST NOOK

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

This inviting breakfast nook is equipped with Hollywood at Home dining chairs and a Justin Van Breda table to ensure the whole family can enjoy the views for hours on end. Lighting, The Urban Electric Co.

GAME ROOM

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

A Dmitriy & Co. sofa and Harbinger game table chairs ensure there’s plenty of seating for game night. Pendant light, Julie Neil.

GUEST BEDROOM

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Coastal-meets-countryside charm abounds in this guest room, thanks to Christopher Farr Cloth window and bed fabric, a Chelsea Textiles bench, and a Thibault wallcovering.

GUEST BATHROOM

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Oomph Home mirrors adorn the walls of this darling guest bath. Vanity, Vanguard Furniture.

LOUNGE

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

This space is full of retro vibes from the Sika Design egg chairs to the Verellen sofa covered in a funky Quadrille fabric.

BAR

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

This nautical-chic bar is outfitted with Waterworks cabinetry and hardware. Counter stools, Industry West. Mirror, The Lacquer Company.

DAUGHTER’S BEDROOM

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

The clients’ daughter selected the vibrant Wallshoppe wallpaper that envelops the space. Bed, Oomph. Dresser lamp, Matilda Goad & Co.

CHILDREN’S BEDROOM

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

This second kids’ bedroom features hints of nautical flair in the Scalamandre wallpaper, Avery Boardman sofa, and pendant lighting by Visual Comfort & Co.

While there are plenty of generous gathering spaces for game nights and late-night movie marathons, like any good home inspired by an English countryside cottage, some of the best spots are the cozy nooks. Caan especially loves the breakfast area that jets out over the water, the guest bedroom that’s full of seating options to ensure anyone can find the perfect spot to cozy up with a good book, and the daughter’s bedroom that’s swathed in a sophisticated yet convivial paper that the 12-year-old girl selected herself.

liz caan cape cod daughters childs bedroom
The clients’ daughter selected the vibrant Wallshoppe wallpaper that envelops the space. Bed, Oomph. Dresser lamp, Matilda Goad & Co. Copyright Tim Williams 2022. All rights reserved.

Though Caan’s penchant for pattern, mastery of color, and ability to make a new home look perfectly lived-in are showcased throughout the home, she is most proud of the fact that the house is a place for the family to fit comfortably now while giving space for them to evolve over the years.

“I really thought about togetherness and how this house could embody their behaviors as a family, so there are so many places for them to create memories here,” says Caan. “I always like to think through how little kids will one day think about the home they have grown up in, especially in this case of a family beach house, and I wanted there to be lots of personality and room to grow so that they will have all these fun memories.”

Though there were plenty of obstacles that came with a complete renovation and redesign that set back the final reveal, Caan says that it allowed the family to really be involved in the process and that the fact that it took longer than expected wasn’t a bad thing. She says the gift of time can make a project richer, and when getting the “English cottage treatment,” that was exactly what the property needed to ensure its longevity for this growing, vibrant family.

House styled by Lucy Bamman.

You Might Also Like