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At first, the couple hired an architect, who drew up "brilliant" plans for a steel-and-glass house—the kind that works well in desert climates. But as 150-mile-an-hour autumn gales lashed the Cape Breton coast, the Angles realized they'd have to adapt. Their neighbors, for instance, had all chosen snug wooden homes that weathered windstorms with aplomb. Scrapping the blueprints that would require importing both materials and labor, Eliot and Alexandra designed a more elemental shingled cottage, facing the shore-hugging Cabot Trail. Area contractors constructed the building with locally sourced maple and birch, and then the Angles set about coloring in their vision.

Alexandra wandered the countryside with a camera in different seasons, photographing the grasses on their journey from bright green to wheaten tan. "I brought back pieces of everything that I could find—bark, wildflowers," she says. "That was how I did my color research." All those elements, tacked to a board in the couple's L.A. studio, guided the resulting palette, which takes into account the changing hues of the water, the lilac of the afternoon sky, and the yellowish glow of the grass that darkens to black amid the trees. "There are 10 different kinds of blue, gray, and green in the house," Alexandra notes.

Harnessing the colors of the wilderness, she bought vibrant panels of Kvadrat fabric—in cornflower, lavender, jade, kiwi—for the simple window seat, built by local workers, that spans the width of the living room. And in the kitchen, on a narrow display shelf above the stove, lime-green pots and chartreuse French goblets give lift to the word backsplash—mimicking the sensation, says Alexandra, of walking through a field dotted with bright yellow asters. Even the underbelly of an antique claw-foot tub the couple found in Halifax was repainted to match the organic, seafoam green of the bedroom it adjoins. 

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