I’ve recently purchased Meryl Gordon’s book on the life of taste-maker Rachel (Bunny) Mellon and I’m looking forward to spend some time with it over the weekend. The late American heiress and wife of banker Paul Mellon has been long admired for her chic homes and gardens (the only aspect I’m really interested about in this book) so naturally her old Cape Cod residence came to my mind. I’ve seen tours of all of her homes, out of which her Cape Cod estate was among her favorites, so I wanted to revisit the estate as it looks today.
The sprawling property includes 24 acres of Cape Cod shoreline on a private peninsula where the couple often entertained family and friends – Nöel Coward, Jack and Jackie Kennedy were frequent visitors. After Bunny’s death, the home was purchased by Bill and Bridget Koch and underwent a sensible transformation under the magic of Million Dollar Decorator Kathryn M. Ireland. A terrific designer whose bold approach to interiors and fabrics I admire!
Ireland describes the home as large but unassuming. The rambling rooms are small but perfectly proportioned while the horseshoe shape of the main building allows a strong indoor-outdoor connection. The house with its surrounding guest cottages was built by the Mellons in the 1940s with this exact idea in mind and luckily, the new owners decided to preserve its spirit. During the decoration process, many original details were left untouched – the kitchens, some of Bunny’s old furniture as well as the beautifully painted floors. To revive some of Bunny’s old paint colors, Ireland chose a soft blue-gray paint for the living room walls (Snow Sky by Barry Dixon for C2 Paint) in a strié application ( another reference to Bunny, who loved strié and used it in her memorable Manhattan townhouse dining room ).
As for the details, the designer swathed the rooms with her delicious fabrics as well as her clients’ existing pieces. Upholstery was updated when necessary but the overall feel still exudes that charm of Bunny’s original vision. It is one of my favorite homes ever published and I often return to it for inspiration. I find it easy and uplifting, I hope you will too!