Text by Charlotte Safavi
When Rebecca and David Anderson purchased a 2300-square-foot cottage in Cary, North Carolina, they were looking for an easy weekend getaway from their coastal hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina. “We wanted a second home where we didn’t have to worry about our usual responsibilities and day-to-day activities,” Rebecca says. “To have a place where we could just be a family.”
The cottage’s location was also chosen for being close to family in nearby Raleigh, North Carolina. The Andersons called on interior designer Mary Hannah Giebel of Mary Hannah Interiors to help make their house a home. “I was hired right when the Andersons bought their house in 2018,” says Mary Hannah, who became involved in redesigning the cottage for the young family from the start. “The idea was to make what was a ‘vanilla’ house into their home and have it brim with character that reflects their lifestyle and taste.”
First to go was the cottage’s terra-cotta-hued walls, which, paired with the dark wood flooring, made the overall space feel dark and gloomy. “Painting the walls in a clean, bright white went a long way toward brightening the space and creating a nice high-contrast feel with the floors,” Mary Hannah says.
The fresh color palette came together fast: crisp white and soft sand serving as a neutral base, with a mix of dark and light woods and lots of blues and greens. “That became our design direction,” Mary Hannah says. “Our aim was to create a textured, coastal, family-friendly home that was relaxed, comfortable, and livable.”
The kitchen’s flat-paneled cabinetry worked well with the unfussy design approach, so it was kept for a measure of economy. But the tired pendant lights were switched out for contemporary, overscale, woven-fiber ones with a decidedly coastal feel.
There is also a cozy screened porch off the kitchen and eat-in area. It’s where the family likes to gather together and host friends in the neighborhood. The furnishings included a sizeable sectional with plush indoor-outdoor cushions and pillows.
“Though the house has a smaller footprint than some in this neighborhood, it doesn’t skimp on seating. This was important to the family, as they often have folks over to visit,” Mary Hannah says.
“There are also so many festivals and activities, like biking and hiking, in this area,” Rebecca adds. “We love it year-round but especially enjoy escaping the tourist-congested beach areas over the summer.”
From the master bedroom, with its softer blues and fresh patterns, to the living area in the great room, where the palette gets a hair saturated with denim blue touches, the home has a fun coastal feel that’s hard to beat. “In the master bedroom, we added an elegant, understated area where the adults could spend quiet time together,” Mary Hannah says of the small sitting niche furnished with a pair of linen slip-covered armchairs.
Each space within this cozy vacation cottage designed with family in mind is thoughtfully layered with chic yet subtle coastal elements. From the textured lighting to the tranquil color schemes, the Andersons now have a comfortable place to retreat and relax in style.
Shop our latest issues for more inspiration!