Reno Addicts, Prepare to Fall in Love with This Antique Cape Before & After

If we had a penny for every time original wood paneling was trashed for boring new sheetrock, then...well, you get it. 

Which is why we're always so delighted to find homes in which the owners not only preserve the funky old features but make them even more of a focal point. Example A: this antique Hingham, Massachusetts, cape house. Enlisting the help of Homepolish designer (and like-minded coastal New Englander) Helen Bergin, the young homeowners set about crafting a friendly-meets-dapper abode with a reverence for its history. We know you'll be as smitten with the transformation as we were.  

Join Us In Ogling This Gorgeous and Space-Savvy NYC Apartment

Before: The Kitchen

Arguably the best feature in whole darn house, the original rustic ceiling beams weren't doing anybody favors in the old kitchen, where they visually receded into the soupy palette of browns and tans. 

hingham home tour kitchen after 1
Joyelle West for Homepolish

After: The Kitchen

Oh, yes. Per the clients' request for a bright, transitional kitchen, Bergin ripped out drab millwork, countertops, moldings, backsplash and cabinet doors, and moved the cramped corner sink to sit underneath the window. A classic subway tile backsplash, paper-white marble counters, brass hardware and a bold blue island rounded out the polished, coastal vibe. As for those aforementioned rafters? Now they sing. 

hingham home tour kitchen after 3
Joyelle West for Homepolish

Pro Tip:

Salvage, salvage, salvage: Despite the reconfiguration, Bergin managed to rehab the kitchen's existing cabinet structures with white paint and blingy hardware (a move that afforded the couple their dreamy marble counters). 

Before: The Breakfast Area

While an early 2000s renovation left the space feeling a bit bland and dated, thankfully it also left the coolest old bones (see: the wide vertical wood wall paneling, the soot-patinaed hearth) beautifully preserved...and primed for a makeover. 

hingham home tour dining after 2
Joyelle West for Homepolish

After: The Breakfast Area

With the client on board to highlight these character features, Bergin happily set about streamlining the space so they really popped. "The first thing to do [when it comes it comes to accentuating old bones] is to dispose of anything in the picture that isn't totally original," says Bergin, "like moldings from a previous addition that don't add any value." Next up? "Swapping out lighting for scale, and paint of course."


hingham home tour dining after 1
Joyelle West for Homepolish

Pro Tip:

Use a bold rug to delineate the dining area in an open concept space—and slim-silhouetted furniture to keep it feeling airy.

Before: The Formal Dining Room

No disrespect to open concepts, but we go weak at the knees for formal dining rooms. With yup, another wood-burning fireplace and original trimwork, the room was already luxurious, if not cramped in size and feel. 

hingham home tour diningroom after 1
Joyelle West for Homepolish

After: The Formal Dining Room

We mean, does it not look like we gained another several feet of head space? Here, Bergin used a crisp white paint on the ceiling, wainscotting and trim to infuse the room with brightness, as well as a textural, ice-blue wallpaper for added sophistication. 

hingham home tour diningroom after 2
Joyelle West for Homepolish

Pro Tip:

Mixing textures (see: velvet upholstery, raw-edged wood) adds plenty of visual interest without the bulk of patterns. 

Before: The Sitting Room

The ultra-cozy sitting room off the kitchen was another of the home's best selling points. Brown and boring prior to the reno, the room was just begging for a design dare. 

hingham home tour dsitting after 1
Joyelle West for Homepolish

After: The Sitting Room

After settling on the Beverly Hills Hotel's famous Martinique wallpaper for a fun, punchy departure, Bergin soon realized the splurge couldn't in fact be applied to the room's old horsehair plaster walls. Her fix? An epic design pivot to papering a statement ceiling instead. Swoon. 


hingham home tour sitting after 3
Joyelle West for Homepolish

Pro Tip:

To usher retro, warm wood paneling into 2018, look to deep, dark wall paint for an edgy counterbalance. 

Before: The Family Room

OK, so this family room setup was already hygge AF. Separated by a half wall from the hub of the kitchen, the sun-drenched space boasted a wall of windows, French doors to the backyard and useful built-ins. But it was lacking pizzazz. 


hingham home tour den after 1
Joyelle West for Homepolish

After: The Family Room

Voilà: Cozy coastal perfection. "The upholstery is all outrageously comfortable, and we layered in rugs and artwork for a soft ground and eye candy," says Bergin. Shout-out to the nuanced navy textiles, which allude to the home's seaside location without screaming it. 

hingham home tour den after 3
Joyelle West for Homepolish

Pro Tip:

"I started off my career working with with über talented Robert Passal Interior Design & Architecture in NYC. He told me to 'edit the juvenile.' I always think about this phrase when I am designing a space," says Bergin. Words of wisdom echoed by the elegant styling that makes these antique walls feel so very well, modern.


Home Editor

From 2014-2019 Grace Beuley Hunt held the role of Home Editor covering interior design, styling, trends and more.