Aptly named “Angel’s Welcome” reflects the owners’ genuine joy of life.By Janice Randall Rohlf | Photography by Brian Vanden Brink Pictured above: The house’s facade blends in with the neighborhood. Look through the front door and you can see straight out to the ocean.
The mostly summer homes clustered around Megansett Harbor in North Falmouth exude an air of friendly informality. Constructed at different times in various styles, they are for the most part not what you would call McMansions. So when Colleen and John Boselli set out to build in the neighborhood, a top priority was that their new home be unique yet still fit in. And Colleen had another important request: “I wanted it to be happy,” she says. “Comfortable and approachable, and every inch of it useful.”
The home is all that and more. From its whimsical, unassuming façade to its water views from nearly every room, the 5,000-square-foot house embraces the husband, wife and four children with sunlight and cheerful colors. It is pretty yet practical; big enough but not the least bit bombastic.
“The Bosellis are not into ostentation, but they still wanted something special and high quality,” says John DaSilva, design principal at Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders (PSD), both the architects and builders of the house. “The house is a fairly quiet presence, relatively traditional, and modest as it faces the street,” adds DaSilva. “Yet, it’s still full of great spaces.”
Such a benevolent house needed an appropriate name and, together, homeowners and architect came up with “Angel’s Welcome.” A playful image custom designed by PSD is cut into the robin’s egg blue screen door. It depicts a pair of angels, long tresses blowing in the wind, and the word “Welcome” escaping from their long-necked trumpets.
The house is heaven not only for family and friends, but also occasionally for newcomers. Colleen, a breast cancer survivor for whom it’s important to “give back healing opportunities” organizes women’s “retreats” here. Boasting a big, round dining table that faces Buzzards Bay and seats 14, the open-plan first level is an “inspirational space” says Colleen, who should know: her company, Strength Catalyst Partners, works with senior executives worldwide to empower and inspire them to recognize their authenticity and strategically maximize their strengths.
Her and her husband’s international business skills came in handy when building “Angel’s Welcome” required long-distance communication and collaboration. The family was living in England at the time, so they entrusted PSD (and Skype) to interpret the vision of their oceanside abode from across the pond.
The front of the house, says DaSilva, presents “a relaxed, casual vibe” with its narrow façade punctuated by an off-center front door. “Semi-classical columns announce the entryway but otherwise the façade is very straightforward,” he elaborates. “The expression of how the family sees themselves happens on the street side.”
The back, which faces the water, presents a very different character. The elevation of the house is a full two stories in order to maximize exposure to the stunning panoramic view. But facing north as it does, the house gets very limited direct sunlight and none at all in the winter.
Drawing on his ingenuity, DaSilva designed a T-shaped floor plan that allows all-day light into the living spaces on both floors and even filters light into the downstairs mudroom/bathroom core as well as the upstairs bedrooms. Among the more than one hundred windows, a trio of big bay windows on the back of the house expand the views east and west. In addition, an airy central stairway brings in light.
The homeowners’ pragmatism also influenced interior designer Charline Sullivan of Simply Design in Dedham, Massachusetts. “Colleen is practical,” says Sullivan, who has now worked with the family on several houses. “She wants things that function well and last a long time.” For Angel’s Welcome, Sullivan repurposed and reupholstered a lot of furniture already owned by the family. For example, ottomans were recovered, twin-bed headboards reupholstered and lamp bases painted a new color. High-end vinyl from Kravet that resists stains was used to cover a pair of club chairs (white) as well as an enormous sectional couch (red) in the finished basement that has endured the family’s peregrinations.
Sullivan has seen the homeowners gradually expand their décor horizons, evidence of which is sprinkled throughout the house: contemporary patterned Cole & Son wallpaper from Lee Jofa, shower tiles in a bold chevron design, shiny metal discs tiled into the bathroom floors. Colleen was thrilled with several purchases from Restoration Hardware, including a stairway chandelier and a stainless steel double vanity. There are notable custom touches too, like local Cape fisherman-turned-artisan Nick Nickerson’s shell mirror in the master bathroom and the dining table with a sandblasted driftwood finish from noted furniture maker Keith Fritz.
This is the second house in the neighborhood for the Bosellis, who started visiting the Cape when their children were young. Their first, a modest ranch across the street, was renovated into a guesthouse by PSD. “We built this new house in order to create meaningful, restorative experiences with friends and family who could enjoy the natural beauty—harbor, sun, and shoreline—up close and personal on the water side of the street,” says Colleen. “PSD and Charline were fantastic collaborators to deliver even more than we imagined.”
On Buzzards Bay, near Wild Harbor
where dinghies shiver against wooden docks,
stands a house. At the front door:
angels brandishing bugles. A fanfare.
A salutation. You must not ask their names,
for their names are too beautiful
to be spoken. You cannot hear their trumpets
for their music is too beautiful to be heard.
If you catch them moving, it is only
a trick of light, for their movement is too beautiful
to be seen—not unlike a bolt of silk
unraveling into the ocean’s black waters.
In front, the roof of the house is tri-gabled,
these three points like alpine peaks or pine trees
or the tines on an emperor’s crown.
In the back of the house, a hipped roof
sloping towards the bay. Each roof conceals
the other, like hands clasping. A game
of geometry. A puzzle. The coming together
of shapes, of sea and land, of angels and of men.
Poet in Residence
Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders
About GennaRose Nethercott, Polhemus Savery DaSilva (PSD) and Angel’s Welcome:
GennaRose Nethercott is a Boston-based poet, performer, and folklorist, originally from the woodlands of Vermont. Her poetry appears widely in journals and anthologies. She is the winner of Spark Creative Anthology’s 2015 poetry competition, the Lindenwood Review’s 2015 flash fiction contest, and Holland Park Press’ 2014 What’s Your Place contest. Nethercott has been a writer-in-residence at Shakespeare & Company in Paris and Art Farm Nebraska. On sunny days, she is often found stationed on street corners writing ‘poems to order’ for passersby on a 1952 Hermes Rocket typewriter. A collection of this poetry was assembled into a chapbook, Poems for Strangers, released by Honeybee Press in 2015. In creating their most recent book, Living Where Land Meets Sea: The Houses of Polhemus Savery DaSilva, the firm collaborated closely with Nethercott. The nine poems she contributed offer insight into the creative intent of the firm’s work and are nearly magical in their reflection of the heart and soul of the buildings featured and their coastal New England context. To extend written poetic interpretation of an experientially poetic architecture to individual homes, PSD continues the collaboration by periodically commissioning Nethercott to write poems about specific PSD houses. After visiting the house “Angel’s Welcome” and discussing it with members of the PSD team, she created the poem Angel’s Welcome as one of those new works.