Under the Sycamore Tree

Stately sycamore trees follow a long circular driveway to Kate Parkhill’s idyllic, neo-classic colonial home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The home, built in 1892, is perched on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay and retains all of its historic charm.

The house, and its picturesque setting, are exactly what Parkhill was looking for when she researched Eastern Shore vacation homes for sale. “I found this place named ‘Osprey’s Reach’ the day the listing went live, and we went to see it the next day,” recalls Parkhill, founder of influential lifestyle brand Wynn and Roo. 

“My dream has always been to have a sycamore tree lined driveway, and that was one of the first things I noticed about this property. The circular driveway leads up to the white pillar covered front porch, and that felt like a warm southern welcome,” she explains.

But what really sold Parkhill on the home was the view. Nearly every room of its 4,000 square feet provides expansive views of the water. The back of the house is almost entirely windows and French doors and with the pocket doors open, you can see all the way through to the bay from the front of the house. 

“Almost every room on the first floor, including the master bedroom, leads to the pool and patio,” she says. “For three seasons, it is truly indoor/outdoor living.”  

Eager to turn this majestic property into a comfortable home for herself, her husband, and two dogs, Wynn and Roo, for which for lifestyle brand was named, Parkhill started gathering design inspiration in the area before they even moved in. “I took trips to Annapolis and Washington DC and picked up on the very traditional and nautical themes in many of the stores, hotels and restaurants of the area,” she explains. 

Due to the setting, Parkhill knew she wanted a coastal/nautical feel, “but not hit-you-over-the-head coastal,” she clarifies. With the home’s history and period architectural details, she also knew it was important to keep a timeless feel to the decor. Blending these design elements required a careful approach by Parkhill, who ultimately wanted the home to be welcoming and livable while maintaining a luxurious vibe.

“I picked a few key style elements and continued them throughout the home. For example, I love the preppy, chinoiserie feel. So I have loads of ginger jars, greek key and bamboo trellis patterns, and blue & white throughout. I also love traditional styles, so floral and fauna wallpaper, Windsor chairs, antique furniture and accessories, and oriental rugs are features of the design plan,” Parkhill says. 

In the dining room, Parkhill started with an antique hutch and Windsor chairs and added a dining table with carved shell embellishments as a subtle nod to the nautical. But the focal point of the room is a mural she found at Anthropology that harkens back to traditional floral scenic patterns. 

In the butler’s pantry, Parkhill also carefully selected wallpaper with a chinoiserie-inspired pattern in an updated blue color scheme from York Wallcoverings. “What drew me to this was its combination of a structured pattern repeat and whimsy,” Parkhill recalls. The wallpaper and the pantry’s coordinating blue cabinetry perfectly showcase her vintage glassware and grandmother’s antique silver champagne bucket.

“I love layering pieces with history or sentimental value in with new purchases,” she continues. “This way, each time I walk into a room, I’m greeted with something that is tied to a memory - it has a soul.”

By mixing different materials and layering various textures, Parkhill’s designs achieve an open and airy feel that is also full of color. Different wood tones, rattan and linen are complimented by antique oil paintings, woven rugs and brass lighting. Parkhill even layered in driftwood found on her shoreline. 

Naturally, Parkhill uses her home for frequent entertaining. “The way that you plan to use your house will inform how it should look as well,” she advises. “We bought this house with the intentions of using is for entertaining, so priorities were a good kitchen, plenty of guest rooms, indoor/outdoor living areas, and lots of seating!” When making updates to the kitchen, she extended the length of the new countertop to accommodate a few stools, creating a comfortable area for perching, eating and keeping the cook company. 

What Parkhill loves most about her new home, though, is “the joy of being on the water, and being able to see water from almost every window! My dogs love it and so do I. You can never feel lonely when you’re on the water with all of the boats and wildlife it brings.” 

Photography by REBECCA MCALPIN

Interior Design by KATE PARKHILL

Katie Groves