Built for a sea captain in the 1850s, this historic home in Cohasset, Massachusetts, has a humble footprint and salt-worn air by design. That’s exactly what charmed its new owners, a couple who hunted to host easygoing dinner parties and, ultimately, start a family within its storied walls. The only catch? They’d need a little more room.
Designer Corey Damen Jenkins came on board to carefully expand the three-bedroom cottage into a family home, while also paying homage to the coastal setting without going full-on nautical. The kitchen and bathroom needed considerable updating, but the foyer, speakeasy and garden room were kept in their original shape and condition. The team was also able to retain much of the original millwork, including the front hall staircase and crown molding, baseboards and trim throughout. From there, Jenkins sought to strike a balance between the wife’s gravitation toward old-world furnishings and the husband’s preference for a more contemporary look and feel. “Both styles can work, and [using] them together is why they’ll work forever,” Jenkins says. “If you bring in modernity with antiquity, it cancels out the time stamp.”
A flocked, ocelot-print wallpaper from Ralph Lauren—paired with a burled wood dining table and heirloom Chippendale chairs reupholstered in yellow fabric—injects funky elegance into the dining room. “We wanted that space to feel like a jewel box,” Jenkins explains. It’s the room in the house least bathed in natural light, so he leaned into that moodiness with deep, dark paints for the woodwork and brick fireplace.
Jenkins also paid special attention to an often-underutilized aspect of a room, the ceiling, saying, “We all need to remember: Always look up!” Fabulous light fixtures, fabric coverings, and salvaged beams added character and texture overhead. A safe distance from spilled drinks, dirty paws, and small sticky fingers, they’re a more enduring investment than furniture when there are dogs and small children a foot. By the time the renovation was wrapped, Jenkins’s clients had both.
“I think this project shows what can happen when designers and homeowners partner on a bold direction and there’s trust,” Jenkins says, reflecting. It’s a rare outcome, “either because the designer is too scared to lean into something that’s unusual, or the clients hold them back from expressing that. Here, thanks to a particularly diplomatic designer, a spirit of collaboration prevails: The home truly reflects its past and the people building a life there together.
A five-inch band of Lee Jofa trim runs along the baseboards and stairway, adding contrast and pattern. Sconces: Visual Comfort & Co. Stair runners: Stark.
A transported Iksel wall murals plays into the seafaring history of this Massachusetts home—and inspired the name of the room. Chandeliers: Visual Comfort & Co. Floor lamps: Currey & Company. Sofa: custom. Coffee tables: CB2. Leather chairs: vintage.
This centrally located space combines a sunny seating area and pedestal table from Serena & Lily. Chairs: antique. Sconces: Visual Comfort & Co. rugs: Stark. Murals: ixel. Table lamps: Visual Comfort & Co. Mirrors: antique, circa 1890s. Chairs: vintage.
Antique bells that belonged to the client’s father crop up in every room.
Designed for relaxing, this intimate space “is like a gift-wrapped box,” Jenkins says. Nailhead trim punctures the ceiling wall covering. Ceiling wallcovering: Mulberry Home. Trims: Fabricut. Sofa: vintage, in custom upholstery. Coffee tables: CB2. Drapery and hardware: Kravet. Paint: Hale Navy, Benjamin Moore.
A vintage rug ties bold accents, like custom brass stools, to the historic architecture. Fabric shades: Ralph Lauren. Backsplashes: Ann Sacks. Countertops: Absolute Granite. cabinet paint: Garlic Clove, PPG Paints.
“When rooms don’t get a lot of light, I lean into that—it feels more dramatic and purposeful,” Jenkins says.
wallcovering: Ralph Lauren. Tables: Jonathan Adler. Chandeliers: Visual Comfort & Co. Clock: vintage. Chair fabric: Metaphores. Paint: Essex Green (millwork) and Black Beauty (fireplace), both Benjamin Moore.
An antique secretary provides a landing zone for keys and mail. Pendants: Visual Comfort & Co. Paint: Georgian Green, Benjamin Moore. rugs: antique. Chairs: vintage.
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Elizabeth Kiefer is a features editor at Cosmopolitan, where she focuses on enterprise stories, narrative reporting, and cultural coverage for the magazine’s print and digital platforms.