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HOMES


Family Rooms
By Terry Ward Libby

Marstons Mills couple designs renovation with children’s creativity in mind

When asked to describe their newly expanded Marstons Mills home, Cheryl and Keith Gilmore are far more inclined to talk about the intangible things that make a house a home than about the mere materials and labor required to build it. And that’s a little surprising, given that they are the owners of Gilmore Enterprises, a home-improvement and construction firm.

As they discuss the challenges of managing a successful construction business on Cape Cod, their four children sit alongside them, occasionally – and very politely – interjecting comments of their own. It is clear that this is the way the Gilmore family lives on a daily basis and not just when a magazine writer comes to call.

“We believe that close-knit family values and the values that come into play when you are doing business with other people are completely interwoven,” says Cheryl. “They are part of daily life in our home, and that’s what we want to project to our children.” She stresses that children are far more likely to be guided by the behaviors they witness in adults than by words alone. As parents, the Gilmores try always to be mindful of this fact.

“Children can spot hypocrisy in a split second,” says Cheryl, who works as business manager for the company from her state-of-the-art home office, where her children are always close by and are, inevitably, first-hand observers of what transpires during the course of her working day.

As well-equipped as the house is as a base of operations for Gilmore Enterprises, it is equally well-suited to the many creative pursuits of this energetic family of six.

In addition to running their own business, Cheryl and Keith are talented musicians who compose and record their own original songs. Their songwriting has become a valued component of their lives, and they are dedicated to nurturing their children’s artistic impulses, as well.

Throughout the house, the Gilmores have designed special spaces where their children are free to explore their own creative powers. Building a beautiful house is the easy part, the Gilmores say, but building one that nurtures a child’s restless, creative spirit is much more challenging.

Keith’s mother is Janet Skinner-Gilmore, a Cape Cod portrait and landscape artist, and he credits her with inspiring his own artistic pursuits, including his early career as a rock musician. Many of her vivid paintings and watercolors are on display in the house, along with portraits of her grandchildren.

It was at one of his live concerts that Keith met Cheryl, who is a writer in many genres. Though Cheryl had little confidence in her singing ability when they met, Keith quickly recognized her talent and encouraged her to sing with him. Today, they say, their style is a cross between John Lennon and Jewel. Their songs are soft, folk-rock melodies with philosophical themes about family, self-discovery and the passage of time.

The Gilmores’ current home began as a simple, full-Cape-style house. A recent addition, designed and constructed by Keith and his staff, essentially doubled the home’s size to accommodate the growing family. The new wing extends from one side of the original house and features a wide farmer’s porch that gives exterior continuity to the two structures. The porch opens into a dramatic foyer with a cathedral ceiling. From the foyer, a staircase leads to a wide hallway above, where French doors open onto a large deck with a spacious hot tub that the Gilmores use year-round.

Downstairs, the foyer leads to the open kitchen and adjacent casual dining area, where Cheryl has placed a contemporary painting with a bright floral motif. In both spaces she has used contemporary pendant lighting fixtures. Throughout the house, the Gilmores have used this unexpected mix of traditional and highly modern styles, something that gives the rooms a degree of formality, but always with a playful edge.

The cozy living room and formal dining area are painted in neutral tones of beige and white, with fabrics in soft blues and aqua tones used on furniture and in window treatments. Keith has added dramatic columns and crown moldings to the rooms, and again, they are features that lend formality but are softened by the choice of the casual, plaid fabrics of the curtains and accent pillows.

Upstairs, the children’s rooms give expression to their individual personalities. Oldest daughter Alexa, 16, has a bedroom done in buttery yellows and contemporary shades of celadon green, a sophisticated color palette she chose herself. In the corner is her personal workspace, overloaded with art supplies and prized magazine clippings. Younger daughter Anna, 10, elected to have her room painted a mellow pink, the perfect shade to set off her toy collection of stuffed pigs and piglets. Brothers Kyle, 8, and Nathaniel, 3, share an open sleeping and play area with special shelving and toy storage areas designed by Keith.

The large master suite which occupies the second story of the new addition features a large bedroom, a separate dressing room and walk-in closet, as well as a spacious bathroom. The heightened wainscoting which Keith installed on the bedroom walls gives the room elegance, while quilted linens, rocking chairs and a pair of antique photographs of Cheryl’s great-grandparents add a subtle country flavor. At the foot of the bed is a wooden chest handcrafted by Keith as an anniversary gift for Cheryl.

The bathroom has an inviting whirlpool tub installed in a wood-paneled base, surrounded with marble tile. Next to it is a gabled window that Cheryl outlined in a stenciled vine motif, adding coziness and whimsy to the room. The suite, Cheryl says, is her “personal sanctuary.”

From a child’s point of view, however, the most exciting space in the Gilmore house must surely be the basement, which features a full-sized musical performance stage, equipped with professional-quality drums, guitars, keyboards and sound system. Curtain panels provide an authentic-looking backdrop behind the stage, and vintage album covers from Keith’s classic rock collection are displayed on the walls.

The Gilmore children are encouraged to take to the stage whenever they feel so inspired, and Cheryl and Keith rehearse here prior to their occasional performances at special events and family functions. In addition to the indoor performance space, Keith has constructed a sturdy outdoor stage for the backyard, complete with a balcony on the second level which is reached by a rear staircase. It’s the scene of many impromptu performances during summers, Cheryl says.

In a song she wrote for her children, Cheryl sings about the stars: “We are all beneath those brightly shining beacons in the sky, knowing that we’re both so far below ... but not that far away.” Many of the Gilmores’ songs express their desire to ensure that their children’s lives will never lack magic or a strong sense of well-being, and they have designed their home with that same overriding philosophy in mind.

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