This couple sought to create a relaxing, warm and welcoming home



Designer Holly Joe sets an evocative interior of peace and serenity for a location spectacularly situated on a pond.

Interior designer Holly Joe constantly kept the open nature of the home in mind when she came up with the design. “Because you can [always] kind of seeing in the next room, we had to make sure they were all talking to each other,” she explains. /Photo by Michael J. Lee

In case you need a reminder: Early Spring 2020 in Massachusetts was not normal. It was the coldest April 19 Boston had seen since 1872. Offices were closed, events canceled and people were learning to sew cloth face masks for the first time. In Dover, however, a couple envisioned a home that would be an escape from the relentless cold and lockdowns.

After renting for a few years, they were ready to own a spacious and private property. When they walked through the front door of a 6,500 square foot residence at the end of a winding driveway and saw directly through the entrance the sparkling pond beyond, they fell in love. “The connection between indoor and outdoor space, the view of the pond from almost every room in the house, it was a dream,” recalls the wife. Built in 2005, the house was intentionally designed in a U-shape to fully embrace the pond that borders it.

Although the setting is perfect, the owners had a particular inspiration for the interior design: Tulum, Mexico. They had been there several times together and wanted a program that would mimic the serenity they felt there. “I loved the idea of ​​creating a space that was inviting and made you feel relaxed and warm, where the elements worked together cohesively,” says the wife, originally from Mexico.

The centerpiece of the dining room is a wide wooden table made by Boston-based craftsman Saltwoods, the team that also carved out the surface of the informal dining room. /Photo by Michael J. Lee

Anticipating that supply chain shortages would quickly limit their ability to source materials, Joe made sure to order bathroom faucets and tiling immediately — an accelerated side effect of a COVID-19 overhaul. 19. /Photo by Michael J. Lee

To bring that authentic New England aesthetic, the couple tapped interior designer Holly Joe. From their first Zoom conversation, the owners and Joe formed a connection that served as the foundation they would need to navigate a home design amid the pandemic, when virtual meetings, supply chain shortages and delays upon delays would interfere with the process.

A seasoned design pro, Joe understood the mission. Bringing Tulum to Dover didn’t mean hauling buckets of sand, but rather capturing the peaceful joy the couple had cherished during their time there. “You think of open skies, sand and white buildings, and all kinds of wood. We used illustrations, colors and textures to bring in that outside influence,” says Joe.

A graphic designer, the wife created a digital inspiration book filled with photos of organic materials, plants and rooms with rustic elements – a source that Joe also tapped into to flesh out the design. To start, however, she had to rework some rooms to make the house work for the couple’s blended family, which includes three teenagers, cats and a puppy. In collaboration with the construction company Howland Company, two offices have been transformed into bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, so that everyone can have their own bedroom.

After about a month of virtual dating, Joe met the couple and saw the house in person for the first time. “We all showed up and had masks on, slippers, gloves on – we looked like we were [in] hazmat suits,” recalls Joe.

Plastic armor aside, crossing the entrance to the two-story living room with French doors offering a view of the pond beyond, Joe was struck. “It was really spectacular. I mean, it took my breath away,” she said.

The cat-themed gallery wall hangs next to a sand-colored L-shaped desk, handcrafted for the space by Dunes and Duchess. /Photo by Michael J. Lee

“This is my dream bedroom,” Joe said. “I love that.” Tucked away in a sunny alcove, a pair of soft blue chairs flank a round wooden table, which the owners brought with them from their previous residence and originally purchased from a consignment store, which is now filled with family photos . /Photo by Michael J. Lee

At the end of the dining room is a feature the owners never thought they’d want, which has since become a beloved conversation piece: an evocative wall covering by Phillip Jeffries depicting herons floating in a blue sky resembling a watercolor. /Photo by Michael J. Lee

Next to the living room is the wife’s office, which, if in a hurry, Joe says she would call it her favorite room in the house. Soft lavender paint covers the walls, punctuated by a gallery with a whimsical story: “My husband travels a lot for work, and [he knows] I love cats,” says the owner. “So he brought this beautiful, very artistic cat calendar from Japan. I didn’t want to get rid of it, so I gave it to Holly and told her maybe you could do a gallery wall.

In the adjoining master bedroom, the personal touches continue. A cherry wood chest made by the husband’s late father sits at the foot of the bed, anchoring the canopyless four-poster bed Joe chose to fit the scale of the high ceilings. “It was that light and airy look that they were going for,” she says.

The dining room takes up the pattern of natural hues and textures, sporting a woven raffia wallcovering with a cadet blue layer that pops out from below. The blue accents throughout the house were important not only to evoke Tulum’s seaside appeal, but also because the husband is color blind. “We agreed on all blue because we like it, and it’s actually the only color he can see without a problem,” says the owner. The piece also features four different types of wood, between the dining table made by Boston-based Saltwoods, the legs of the dining chair, the pale wood light sconces and a rich wooden credenza that grounds the light piece. and spacious.

Beyond updating the cabinet colors and adding new stools, there wasn’t much to do in the already functional kitchen. Looking past the blue seating area chairs in the sandy white kitchen is like a visual vacation. /Photo by Michael J. Lee

In the informal dining room, the walls of windows capture the views of the pond and the surrounding green landscape. Because the house was built in a U-shape to center around the pond, there is no unimpressive seating in the house. /Photo by Michael J. Lee

Through the open concept kitchen, an informal dining area has retained its original sage green trim. Joe brought in a bespoke wooden table and a new set of black chairs that match perfectly with the modernity of the light fixture made up of several glass orbs that appear to float. On three walls, nearly floor-to-ceiling windows wrap around the dining table, allowing for striking views of nature just outside. “I was [sitting in this room] last fall. The breeze was blowing and all these orange leaves were falling from the trees,” a captivated Joe recalls.

Seasons after first entering the house, it was a perfect and complete moment. “Being able to work on a project like this at the very beginning [of the pandemic], when everything was so closed and nobody knew what was going on, then to open it up and become this beautiful space that everyone loves…. says Joe. “It was so wonderful.”

R&P Lowell Architects

Howland Company

Interior decorator
Holly Joe Interiors

White surfaces, trim and muted palette all around evoke a serene spa-like atmosphere in the master bath. /Photo by Michael J. Lee


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