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BY: Lisa Leigh Connors
STYLING BY: Karin Lidbeck Brent
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Kritsada Panichgul

A hike on Hardings Beach brings nature from the outside in and provides inspiration for Christmas décor at a home designed and built by Polhemus Savery DaSilva (PSD).

Best friends Leslie Massa and Karin Lidbeck Brent share a love of hiking, nature, foraging and creating crafts together. So it’s no surprise that a fall hike along Hardings Beach inspired a seaside holiday décor theme at Leslie and Mark Massa’s Chatham home.

Karin and Leslie imagined a metallic, silvery blue palette, with touches of gray-greens gathered from the shore—lichen, sea creatures and pitch pines. “We wanted it to be about what we foraged in Chatham,” says Karin, a professional photo stylist and designer. Driftwood, horseshoe crabs, mussels and foraged greens were soon transformed into a gorgeous holiday scene at the Massa’s house—designed and built by Polhemus Savery DaSilva (PSD)—located steps from Hardings Beach.

Horseshoe crabs spray-painted blue and silver anchored the dining room table. Rope from Cape Fishermen’s Supply in Chatham was strung around the tree—decorated with spray-painted razor clams and oyster shells. Garland from Pine Tree Nursery was draped beautifully across the fireplace mantle and staircase.

It’s clear that treasure hunting at local beaches brings Leslie joy, as the giant piece of driftwood out front indicates. Karin stenciled the word Joy and painted the letters white on driftwood they discovered at South Beach and carried for three miles back home (coincidentally, Joy is also Leslie’s maiden name). As you step inside and walk around the living room and dining room, you’ll discover more beach finds, including beach moss, beach grass, eggs, feathers and shells. The décor fits in perfectly with Leslie’s goal of creating a cozy and casual, yet refined home.

The original home on the property—a tiny cottage owned by Polly and “Ski” (Edward) Szemplenski, Mark’s aunt and uncle—was a place the Massa’s visited regularly and a house they eventually purchased. After the Szemplenskis passed away, the couple lived in the one-bedroom cottage for a couple of years before building new. When Leslie reached out to PSD in 2012, she envisioned a home that embraced the natural setting of the backyard meadow and marsh.

The house near Hardings Beach is deceptively simple on the outside, relaxing and serene on the inside. The architecture, decorating and landscape are carefully crafted to seamlessly come together.

“Inspiration from vernacular cottages and simple 19th-century Greek revival houses allows a casual ‘old Cape Cod’ feeling, even though the complexities of contemporary living are accommodated,” says John R. DaSilva, PSD Design Principal. “Integrating comfortable solutions with respect for context yields a home that feels right to those who live in it and those who enjoy looking at it on their way to the beach.”

PSD mimicked some of the original cottage cabinets, counters and outside shutters. The character of the home was designed to be reminiscent of the original structure. “I wanted a home that celebrates all seasons and is not a traditional summer or coastal home, but rather one that transitions naturally through the seasons,” says Leslie, adding that they salvaged some of the knotty pine from the original cottage and repurposed it as wainscoting, cabinets and mirror frames.

Leslie says that in addition to their two grown children and many friends and family who visit, they have local friends who make up their Cape Cod family. Often, they share potluck dinners and play cards or board games. The Massa’s house is indeed well loved, comfortable and welcoming, a place where special memories are created and holidays are celebrated around a farmhouse table surrounded by nature.

The house near Hardings Beach is deceptively simple on the outside, relaxing and serene on the inside. The architecture, decorating and landscape are carefully crafted to seamlessly come together.

Where to Buy in Chatham

Antonia Gallery
Painting above fireplace: “A Good Read,” oil on canvas, by Cape Cod artist Elizabeth Lazeren

Cape Fishermen’s Supply 
Products: Rope on the tree, wreaths and stairway

Chatham Candy Manor
Products: All candy

Chatham Coastal Creations
Handcrafted ornaments by Nick Nickerson
Products: Handmade sea scallop shell ornaments

Chatham Shellfish Company
Provided the oysters

Mayflower Shop
Products: Pine cone candle hurricanes and galvanized firewood bin, tray and pots in living room; vessels and champagne flutes in the kitchen; all wicker hurricanes out front.

Pine Tree Nursery & Landscaping
Products: All wreaths and tree garland on mantle and stairway, Christmas trees, little pine trees and paperwhites

Simpler Pleasures
Products: Dining plates, dinnerware, glassware, wine glasses and napkins