Every house carries a history within its walls, a story of different lives lived — and the historic homes in the Ocean Drive area are perfect examples. When Nikki and Alan Nisbet discovered the 1930s white Cape Cod-style home with blue shutters, they fell in love … not only with the exterior, but also with the fact that the home was filled with so much history, and that they would be next in line to add to it.
As the fifth family to live in the home since its original construction, Nikki and Alan were excited to move on with the project and make the space their own. With history at the cornerstone, Nikki wanted to create a thread linking the past and the future. “The problem is that I’m very sentimental,” she said with a smile. So, instead of undoing or covering prior renovations, she decided to keep some of the changes and additions made throughout the years, while also adding in a more contemporary touch to reflect their tastes.
For the home’s central color palette, a clean and crisp combination of black and white aids in incorporating that contemporary mood. Cool hues of blue are also seen throughout the home to bring a calming feeling while nodding to both the exterior shutters and ocean. This color scheme, juxtaposed with more neutral tones, allows the traditional elements of the home to shine without overpowering the contemporary elements.
It could be seen as a challenge to add modern design elements to a 1930s Cape Cod-style home, but with expertise and eye for detail from Elizabeth Welsh of Elizabeth Welsh Interior Design, the Nisbets were able to create balance by taking elements of both styles to design a unique aesthetic that introduces a new chapter to the story of the home.
To preserve some of the home’s history, elements such as the kitchen cabinets with original glass and soapstone countertops, a bar area, the sunroom with slate tile flooring, the dining room’s built-in shell-shaped shelving and the elevator were kept intact, providing a backdrop to bring in the more modern elements.
When it came to updating spaces in the home, each decision was thoughtful and intentional. A few foundation and floorplan changes were made to create easier access from room to room, and to incorporate more arches throughout. The kitchen got a facelift in the form of a fresh paint job, and while the cabinets and walls remained white, the island was painted the same shade of blue as the outdoor shutters. Adding intrigue and dimension to the kitchen area, the backsplash was upgraded to a Moroccan Zellige, and black and white flooring was installed.
The use of eye-catching wallpaper and tiling in many areas of the home adds a unique and refreshing personality throughout. In the master bath, seafoam green glass tiling lines the shower’s interior and carries over to the faucet handles. In their daughter’s room, a love of lavender inspired a more feminine aesthetic with custom-colored tile made in Morocco for the flooring, pearlescent subway tile in the bathtub and brushed gold finishes throughout. The wallpaper in her bedroom keeps to the same theme and features a playful floral wallpaper. In the downstairs hall bathroom, wallpaper featuring a painterly, abstract pattern bursting with color adds visual interest to what can oftentimes be an overlooked room in the house.
The formal dining room also benefited from a fresh coat of paint in a slate blue hue, from floor to ceiling. This allowed Nikki to keep the original style of the shell-shaped shelving while elevating it with the choice of paint color. The bi-fold and tri-fold doors in the space were kept, as an original feature, and plans to have replicas made to incorporate in other doorways are in the works.
Although the Nisbets have made headway with their renovations, they still have more projects underway. They have plans for built-in shelving additions, closet upgrades, beadboard ceilings, contemporary light fixtures and many other finishing touches as they wait for delayed items to arrive. They’re also working on an outdoor landscaping design with a privacy wall, pool upgrade and renovations to the circle drive.
Welsh and Nikki agree the most anticipated upgrade is to the fireplace and mantel in the sunroom. They’ve already begun by wiping the slate clean on the fireplace in order to bring in a more adobe, Santa Fe Monolithic treatment. The design adheres to a contemporary theme with fire spheres, rather than the traditional logs, that mimic the round design on the black and white flooring in the kitchen, along with the spheres on the base of a round dining room table also set to be added. The fireplace is flanked by a shiplap wall that was once part of the home’s exterior before the sunroom was added by a previous owner. The combination of these two components is on par with the family’s goal to combine the past with the future.
Although the pandemic has slowed down many of their planned renovations, Nikki and Alan are proud of the little details Welsh has helped them accomplish to make their home truly unique. The couple loves the coziness and warmth of the home and the many stories they can share about its history. This is only the beginning, though, and many projects are underway to continue adding to the legacy of this one-of-a-kind landmark home.