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Hull B&B mixes modern and homemade

It may look suburban outside, but Josephine's Bed and Breakfast in Hull is stamped inside by the owner's family history, sense of decor, and stenciled elements on the walls. It may look suburban outside, but Josephine's Bed and Breakfast in Hull is stamped inside by the owner's family history, sense of decor, and stenciled elements on the walls. (Photos by Hansi Kalkofen/for the Boston Globe)
By Sacha Pfeiffer
Globe Correspondent / August 17, 2008
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HULL - Certain types of houses tend to get turned into bed-and-breakfasts: older properties steeped in history or soaked in antique charm. Josephine's Bed and Breakfast, which opened in June, is not one of them.

Viewed from the street, it's an unlikely B&B, and one with little curb appeal. The house has a double garage in front and a wide looping driveway, giving it the look of generic suburbia. It's close to a busy road; there's a large apartment building across the street; and its next-door neighbor is a VFW post.

But that off-putting exterior only increased our delight when we walked inside. Josephine's is a new-construction home (not long ago, it was an empty lot) that has been transformed into an unusually contemporary and uniquely charming B&B.

Pretty, airy, and flooded with natural light, it has all the amenities of a just-built house: beautiful hardwood floors, high ceilings, modern kitchen and bathrooms, new tiling. And its owner, Ann Marie Kenny, has put a lot of love and thought into the decor.

It's decorated in a way that captures early-19th-century beach life, from black-and-white family photos to old boat paddles to old-fashioned traveling trunks. Many of the rooms are named after Kenny's relatives (Josephine was her grandmother), and those names are written on the walls in funky stenciling.

"I had so much fun doing this it was unbelievable," Kenny says of her artwork. And it showed.

The three-story house has three guest rooms, one on each floor, and Kenny and her husband, Michael, live with their quiet, well-behaved boxer, Dempsey, in private quarters on the second floor. We stayed in the spacious top-floor Twinz room, which we loved. Named for Kenny's twin aunts, it has a king bed and a twin-size trundle, and windows on three sides give it such a leafy view that it feels a bit like a treehouse; we only wish the room had brighter lights for nighttime reading.

It also has the huge benefit of being attached to Ida's Attic, a giant sitting room with a bay view. It's outfitted with binoculars, a telescope, rocking chairs, books, games, a wonderfully comfortable leather couch and chair, and a less comfortable denim couch. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. the attic is open to all guests; the rest of the time it's limited to Twinz room guests, thank you very much.

In another nice touch, a gift bag of chips, pretzels, and homemade cookies and biscotti, as well as sparkling cider and bottled water on ice, were in our room when we arrived.

For breakfast, Michael Kenny makes a trip to Weinberg's Bakery in Hull for bagels and muffins, and Ann Marie adds juice, fruit, yogurt, and homemade baked goods, like delicious lemon poppy seed bread. The only thing we didn't like about breakfast was the TV that blared as we ate.

The Kennys are extremely gracious innkeepers. Michael, for instance, ran out and bought us a Sunday newspaper, and Ann Marie offered to drive us to the Hull Yacht Club, where we were scheduled one night to meet friends.

Josephine's big negative is its proximity to George Washington Boulevard, whose steady, speedy traffic is visible and audible from the house. And although it is only a half-mile from Nantasket Beach, guests have to cross a wide causeway to get there. We crossed it by foot several times, including for an excellent dinner at nearby Jake's Seafood, but the brisk traffic makes the walk feel slightly dangerous. For guests with cars, the causeway may be a non-issue.

One warning: Determined to be car-free on this trip, we took the Greenbush Line to Nantasket Junction (we wanted to take the commuter boat but it doesn't go to Hull on weekends). Ann Marie told us the train station was only a half-mile walk to the B&B, so we turned down her generous offer to pick us up.

Turns out the walk is actually 1.6 miles along the boulevard, which made for an unpleasant trek; we felt as if we were on the shoulder of a highway. So if Ann Marie offers to meet you at the station, take her up on it.

Sacha Pfeiffer can be reached at spfeiff@bu.edu.

If You Go

Josephine's Bed and Breakfast

45 Salisbury St., Hull

617-803-9152

josephinesbandb.com

What we liked most: The beautiful new-construction house, the expansive privacy of the Twinz room, and the generosity of the innkeepers.

What we liked least: The proximity to busy George Washington Boulevard, the dim reading lights in the Twinz room, and the TV blaring during breakfast.

What surprised us: The delightful treehouse-like feeling of the top-floor Twinz room.

You know you're at Josephine's when . . . you see innkeeper Ann Marie Kenny's funky stenciling on the walls.

Rates: $110-$165.

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