A coffered ceiling details the open kitchen and dining area. A door leads to the butler’s pantry.
Leaded-glass sidelites enclose the door to the sunroom off the main entry foyer.
In the existing living room, a Charles Stewart sofa is combined with Drexel Heritage bergères.
The foyer features Chinoiserie wallpaper by Brunschwig & Fils.
Behind the new wing, porches, a pool and a pergola invite guests outdoors.
 A rear view reveals the octagonal sunroom and the two-story octagonal volume connecting both wings.
Architect Cathy Purple Cherry designed a portico around the main entrance of the original home.
Bar stools pull up to the kitchen island, topped by granite from Atlas Stone.
 The adjacent great room boasts comfortable seating in front of a large fireplace.
Chicago brick paves the butler’s pantry, built around a La Cornue rotisserie oven.
A light-filled gallery leads to the new staircase.
Wallpaper by Stroheim & Romann embellishes a powder room in the new wing.
A pool and pergola by McHale Landscape Design lets water views take center stage.
A serene blue palette evokes a coastal feel in the master bedroom housed in the new octagonal structure.
 A decorative Kohler sink in the master bath.
The master bath boasts wood-look porcelain floors from Compass Tile.
The master bath combines Lyndon Heath Cabinetry and wallpaper by Thibaut.
Custom cabinetry frames water views.

Amazing Grace

A design team revamps an Eastern Shore retreat, creating indoor and outdoor spaces primed for entertaining

 A 1936, red-brick colonial overlooking the Chesapeake Bay caught the eye of a DC-area couple seeking a vacation home. Perched on a point with panoramic water vistas, the faded gem proved too alluring to resist. So they acquired it knowing an overhaul would be required to transform its outdated interiors into the family getaway they’d envisioned.

Built just one room deep on two levels, the existing home had its drawbacks. The living spaces, including a shoddy 1980s-era addition, were inadequate for entertaining. None of the modest bedrooms were suitable for a comfortable master suite. And the kitchen, bathrooms and closets belonged in the 20th century.

The owners hired builder Guy Pilli and architect Cathy Purple Cherry to help them figure out how to morph their new purchase into a home where they could host family and friends in style.

Purple Cherry’s clever plan—which scrapped the addition—honored the home’s past while forging a bold path into the present. “I care very much about respecting a structure that is there and making sure the way I expand it looks like an evolution in time, a graceful change,” says the architect. Rather than adding more rooms onto the existing structure, which would have skewed its proportions and blocked views, she decided to extend it into an “L” shape. A new wing, designed to look as though it was added over time, would include an open kitchen, dining area and great room on the main level and a master suite, sitting room and bonus room for the couple’s grandchildren above.

One of the architect’s challenges was to maintain scale between the existing abode—which housed a living room, office, sunroom and guest suite on the main floor and four bedrooms in a row upstairs—and the larger, deeper new wing. To connect the two volumes, she designed an octagonal element that balances the octagonal sunroom off the foyer in the original home. Housing a screened porch on the ground level and the master bedroom above, “this transitional piece help breaks down the mass,” she explains.

Purple Cherry added a sense of grandeur to the front façade with a new entry portico. “Creating that design element as though it had been there for 100 years was very exciting,” she says. New leaded-glass sidelites that flank the front door are repeated on the door to the sunroom, which greets visitors upon arrival.

Working hard to preserve the existing home’s historical assets, the design team salvaged floors, woodwork, plaster and doors where possible. Walls of exposed original brick mark the transition between the new and old structures. Says Purple Cherry, “I live in a 1740 house, so I love the exposure of old materials and the feeling they create in terms of saying ‘home.’”

Architectural details in the new wing, from classically styled moldings to coffered ceilings, reflect the property’s traditional heritage. A grand staircase that echoes the style of the stair in the original wing—as well as a gallery connecting the great room, kitchen and garage—fosters easy circulation. “The gallery looks like it was an exterior colonnade that got enclosed,” says Purple Cherry.

The renovation also addressed important, everyday practicalities. Between the kitchen and three-car garage, a large mudroom, family powder room and butler’s pantry efficiently cater to the in-and-out meanderings of an active family living on the water.

The homeowners envisioned classic interiors that would reflect the era of the original home yet convey a current vibe. “We wanted a more traditional and formal approach, rather than something beachy or contemporary,” explains the wife.

She and her husband turned to designer Stephanie Simmons of Karen Renée Interiors—the firm that designed their main residence—to help furnish the bay getaway. “The house had so much potential,” says Simmons. “I wanted to evoke its Eastern Shore setting without taking that too far.”

Simmons put a “fresh, updated” spin on classic style. She selected natural linens and grass cloths and a palette of pale gray and ivory accented with shades of coral and blush. And she sourced furniture with relaxed elegance and a focus on comfort.

Simmons’s scheme also accentuates the home’s architecture. In the sunroom, for example, window treatments hang on thin metal rods that she custom-designed to fit the octagonal shape of the room. “Side panels between the windows keep the views exposed,” she explains. “They create softness without taking away from the view.”

Beckoning through almost every window, water rims the property’s six-acre site on two sides. To transform what was mostly an empty lot into an outdoor oasis conducive to entertaining, the owners hired Stephen McHale of McHale Landscape Design. “We wanted to maintain the feeling of an old farm estate,” says McHale, “and complement the architecture with a landscape that works with the time frame of the original property.” McHale devised a new approach to the home with a circular arrival court. Gravel pathways evocative of a bygone era connect the front garden to the screened porch and pool in the backyard. “In the back where the pool is,” he explains, “we wanted to make everything as subtle as possible because the views are the reason the clients are there.”

Today, the owners love spending time with their children and grandchildren in the finished weekend home. “It’s fabulous when the sun comes up and you can see geese on the water,” marvels the wife.

“We had this beautiful old house that needed to be restored to its former glory,” she continues. “Cathy made it work and Guy built the perfect home. It’s beyond our wildest imagination.”


Architecture: Cathy Purple Cherry, AIA, LEED AP, CAS, Purple Cherry Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. Interior Design: Stephanie Simmons, Allied ASID, Karen Renée Interior Design, Severna Park, Maryland. Builder: Guy Pilli, Pilli Custom Homes, Millersville, Maryland. Landscape Design: Stephen McHale, McHale Landscape Design, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.


Lighting: jones-lighting.com.Windows: marvin.com. Exterior Stone: harwoodstone.com.Shutters: atlanticpremiumshutters.com. Plumbing and Bath Fixtures: ferguson.com. Hardware: walterworkshardware.com. Tile: cst-studio.com. Flooring: woodfloorcreations.com. Ceramic and Marble: atlastile.com.
Flooring: atlastile.com. Chairs, Chair Fabric & Trim: kravet.com.
Table: sherrillfurniture.com. Chandelier: visualcomfort.com. Drapery & Pillow Fabric: romo.com. Drapery Fabrication: interiorsbyjoannoc.com.
Mirror: globalviews.com. Antique Console: Clients’ collection.
Wall Covering: brunschwig.com.
Sofa: charlesstewartcompany.com. Sofa Fabric: kravet.com. Chairs: drexel-furniture.com. Chair Fabric: stroheim.com. Cocktail Table: sherrillfurniture.com. Drapery Fabric: Drapery Fabrication: interiorsbyjoannoc.com.Rug: maslandcarpets.com.
Lamp behind Sofa: Clients’ collection. Pillow Fabrics: janechurchill.com; fschumacher.com. Living Room Fireplace Stone: atlastile.com.
Table: Custom. Bench: tcsfurniturerange.com. Bench Fabric: fschumacher.com. Host Chairs & Wooden Chairs: Clients’ collection. existing pieces which we reupholstered. Host Chair Fabric: stylelibrary.com/sanderson. Wooden Chair Fabric: osborneandlittle.com. Rug: maslandcarpets.com. Light Fixture: visualcomfort.com.
Cabinetry: lyndonheathcabinetry.com. Countertop, Backsplash & Mosaic: atlastile.com. Faucets: ferguson.com. Lights over Island: visualcomfort.com. Appliances: theappliancesource.com.
Sofa, Armchair & Striped Chairs: charlesstewartcompany.com. Sofa & Ottoman Fabric: thibautdesign.com. Striped Chair Fabric: fschumacher.com. Ottoman: jonathan-wesley.com. Armchair Fabric: osborneandlittle.com. Drapery Fabrication: interiorsbyjoannoc.com. Rug: starkcarpets.com.
Cabinetry: lyndonheathcabinetry.com. Countertop & Backsplash Tile: atlastile.com.
Drapery Fabric: fschumacher.com. Drapery Fabrication: interiorsbyjoannoc.com. Bench: tcsfurniturerange.com. Bench Fabric: fschumacher.com. Painting: baycountryshop.com. Stair Runner: maslandcarpets.com.
Cabinetry: lyndonheathcabinetry.com. Rotisserie Oven: lacornueusa.com. Countertop: atlastile.com.
Cabinetry: lyndonheathcabinetry.com. Wall Covering: thibautdesign.com. Flooring & Shower Tile: cst-studio.com.
Countertop: atlastile.com.
Bed & Chest: hickorywhite.com. Bedding: legacylinens.com.
Drapery & Accent pillow fabric: stroheim.com. Rug: maslandcarpets.com.
Chairs: Clients’ collection. Chair Fabric: larsenfabrics.com. Chandelier: visualcomfort.com. Fabric: stroheim.com. Drapery Fabrication: interiorsbyjoannoc.com.