Little more than a year ago, the retro-fabulous cherry-red kitchen of longtime couple Gail Greenwood and Chil Mott appeared in The New York Times. Not in the “Home & Garden” section but “Music”, as Gail is bassist for the alternative rock band Belly. While a sunny space by the fridge may not be an ordinary backdrop for a band’s photo shoot, this is no ordinary kitchen (or band). With its 1930s wallpaper and chrome legged kitchen set, gathering around the table made much more sense then posing members against some dusky backdrop, looking sullen. Plus, the band practices regularly in the basement.
Gail and Chil have made the quaint Middletown cottage their home since the 1990s. They first relocated from Providence as renters to be close to the beach for surfing (less than four miles away). Once the pair took ownership of the 1938 home, like many, a drive to make their imprint really took hold. Both artists and graphic designers who run Greenwood Associates from the attic, the pair found themselves drawn to authentic vintage style for the main level. What may have started as practical, accepting cast-offs from family and friends, even a piece of taxidermy, developed into a penchant for heirloom quality and period design with an execution so precise it caught the eye of location scouts for Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom.
Being the third owners of the house, many original features are still in-tact and coveted by Gail and Chil. Things like mounted light fixtures, a cast iron double sink, and solid wood cupboards – which the couple simply painted and then replaced the hardware to give a re-fresh. Even what is new to the home isn’t so new, like the antique rose patterned wallpaper purchased at Secondhand Rose in New York City, or the 1940s Universal stove from Earthen Vessel in Providence.
When asked to define their decorating style, there’s a bit of an edge. After all, these two pride themselves on being “punk rock,” and rightfully so. “We respectfully call [our decor style] ‘Dead Grandmother’,” says Gail, who escorts you through the curated meticulous wonderland with chipped black nail-polished hands. Throughout the home, touches like floral prints and lace are always tempered with something unexpected, resulting in looks that are more interesting than sweet. Case in point, beyond the quintessential New England stone wall, approach the charming cottage to find a little skull affixed just below a light fixture; illuminated at night, it lets you know this is no ordinary house.