Life on Nantucket: First in a Series

Nantucket by Sondy Rexford

Please join me on a little trip to Nantucket this month! I’d like to highlight some of the things I love about this island, and what makes it so special to me. I’ve been coming to the island since I was a child.  I’ve owned five homes here, including one in town (the historic Captain Parker house) and one in Monomoy, as well as my current home in Madaket.  In the summer, all roads lead to Nantucket.

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The Captain George Parker House

Not only do I live here part time and work here, I also shop here, and do my best to support the good works of Nantucket’s charitable foundations and non-profit organizations.  It’s my way of giving back to the community that’s given so much to me.  August is a wonderful month.  There’s so much going on–the town is bustling, the shops are busy, parties are everywhere and the community is happy to support the many fabulous events in honor of some very deserving organizations.

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The Dane Gallery 

Glass artist Robert Dane and his wife Jayne operate The Dane Gallery at 28 Centre Street.  I’m a collector of Robert’s beautiful glassware and bought some wonderful cobalt blue glasses there this summer.  Robert and Jayne represent artists working in glass, basketry, ceramics and wood; they’re one of the premier contemporary art galleries in the country. Visit them online here.  The photo below is whale art by artist Raven Skyriver:  another example of his artwork is in this month’s What I Love post.

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Walk Now for Autism Speaks:  August 17

Once again, my husband Frank, our three Bichons (Tuffy, Ellie and G.G.) and I will participate in the signature fundraiser for Autism Speaks, their annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks, to raise funds for autism research and raise awareness of this complex disorder.  Dujardin Design Associates is proud to sponsor signs along the path, signaling our ongoing support for individuals with autism and their families.  The Walk starts from Jetties Beach on August 17; learn more about it here. I hope you’ll join us on Nantucket, or on one of the Walks around the country.

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Nantucket Cottage Hospital’s Boston Pops Concert

August 10th will mark the 17th annual Boston Pops Concert to benefit the Nantucket Cottage Hospital.  The music starts at 7:00 p.m., and the beachside fireworks go off at 9:00!  It’s one of the best summertime events on the island. This year, the very talented Katie Couric will host the event, and the special guest is Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe-nominated star Matthew Morrison, perhaps best known for his performance on the top rated show Glee.  Details are here.

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Swim Across America:  Making Waves to Fight Cancer, August 24

The Nantucket Island Open Water Swim takes place on August 24th at Jetties Beach. As part of Swim Across America, an organization dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, all funds raised will help support new oncology services at Nantucket Cottage Hospital and free cancer support programs offered by Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket (PASCON). Join in by swimming either 1/2 mile or 1 mile, or support the swimmers by making a donation.  Learn more here.

PASCON swim

When I’m not meeting with clients, overseeing design installations, or attending wonderful on-island events with friends, I’m enjoying all the beauty, wonder and mystery that living on an island offers.  The sound of the sea, the smell of salt air and the seafaring history make living on Nantucket like nowhere else on earth.

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With your back to the wind and your face to the ocean, you can almost see the whaling ships of long ago arriving in the harbor, laden with treasures from around the world.  We’re 30 miles out to sea, and a world away.  If you haven’t experienced the island, I hope you’ll visit soon.  Whenever you arrive, there’s always a light on.

sankaty point lighthouse

If anyone needs me, G.G. and I will be on the porch.

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On Safer Ground in Nantucket Today

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The August 2013 issue of Nantucket Today features a Dujardin-designed home with a unique story:  this beautiful Edwardian-era residence was saved not once, but twice, from the perils of the sea.  Built in 1908 on the sandy ground of Sconset Bluff on Nantucket, fierce storms and pounding waves in recent years have eroded the fragile shore, placing the house in danger of being swept out to sea.

© kenneth brizzeeThe owners of this elegant home first shifted it farther inland in 2006, but it wasn’t far enough.  The second move for the house was cross-island to Monomoy in 2010, where the house now watches the waves in the harbor from a safe distance. With the sea no longer a too-close neighbor, spectacular gardens have been planted outside with massive hedges, and organic vegetable and fruit gardens instead of sandy paths.

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I first designed this home in 1996, so there’s an odd sense of deja vu for me as I walk through these rooms.  An updated family room, breakfast room and kitchen replaced a maze of rooms that once was the servant’s wing.

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The world of 1908 is still in evidence in the house, recalled by the back servants’ stairs and the original call box with bells for the library, the guest rooms, and the original owners of the house, Mr. and Mrs. Dustin.

servants stairs

As befits a home that has lasted for generations, there is a beguiling mix of ages throughout.  In the entry, a 19th Century gilt mirror adds a touch of grandeur, arching over 21st Century whale art in handblown glass by Raven Skyriver.

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An enfilade of rooms opens one upon the other, offering tantalizing glimpses of subtle blues and yellow, creams and whites, richly finished wood floors and plush rugs underfoot. Dignified antiques add a decorous note to airy spaces.

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There’s a ribbon of soft color that runs through the house; shades of bluebells and buttercups wrap the rooms in tranquil tones that lit spirits on even the foggiest days.

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The home’s original setting on Sconset Bluff is honored in an oil painting that hangs over the living room mantel, a reminder of those more precarious days.

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Just as the house itself has had its second, and third, chance at life, many of the well-loved pieces throughout the home were reupholstered for their own second chance.  The homeowners’ unique stories are told here, too.  The 1840’s breakfront in the dining room is home to a collection of heirloom china teacups, given to the wife’s mother at her wedding shower.  Each guest arrived with a different teacup, creating a charmingly mismatched set that has been treasured for years.

dining room 2 In the master bedroom, an elaborately carved 19th Century bed from the West Indies blends effortlessly with contemporary lamps and white lacquered night tables.  There, seaglass colors soothe both body and mind.

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Nantucket residents know our island is a fragile place. Climate change and stronger storms continue to buffet our shores, creating an uncertain future for seaside homes, wherever they face the waves.  In this house by the harbor, the owners have surely done their duty by their home, lovingly preserving it for years to come.

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All photography courtesy of Jeffrey Allen; visit his website here.

 

Fabulous Foyers

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Penthouse in New York showcases a view toward the Steinway satinwood piano in the living room. The piece on the right is a fine example of Faux Bois; the wallpaper is silk string. Photographer:  Durstan Saylor

What makes a foyer fabulous?  A foyer is the first glimpse of your home for your guests, and as such, it should provide a gracious welcome.  A beautifully designed entry way is a breath of rest and calm after travel and time spent on the road, for you and your family as well as your guests.  More a throughway than a living space, it should be clean and uncluttered.  Even a small entry should feel spacious.

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Nantucket House opens to a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean.  Next stop:  Portugal! On the left is a 18th Century French Provincial painted bureau and an 18th Century barometer; floors are reclaimed chestnut. Photographer:  Terry Pommett

In American Colonial style homes, the straightaway hall often separates the house into two distinct halves.  The entry hall opens to doors at each end, affording a view through the house, with the staircase to the side.  A table, lamps and framed pictures creates a room-like vignette, where family and visitors pause for a moment before proceeding into the home.

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The Beach Nest features two custom designed pieces in rattan, a red coral mirror in the style of an 18th century Chippendale mirror, a handpainted harlequin wood floor and an umbrella stand featuring a collection of canes. Photographer:  Terry Pommett

In modern American and English houses, and in many vacation homes, the entry hall and the living room are combined, and there is no separate room designated as a foyer.  There should still be an area clearly defined as an entrance, with at least a small table and a vase of fresh flowers to set a welcoming tone.  A mirror is often included, where guests and family members can make a quick check of their appearance.

entry way

Nantucket Traditional  greets guests with an eighteenth century painted bench.  Photographer: Terry Pommett

Adding unique and personal artwork, such as this Christian Thee custom mural above, serves as an ice-breaker and conversation starter.  We had this mural designed to celebrate the best-loved places in this St. Louis-based couple’s lives, so although the largest portion of the map is dedicated to Nantucket, it includes the Texas flag, the Arch of St. Louis, and other items close to the their hearts.

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Greenwich Elegance features two antique Chinese windows framed as pieces of art and a custom-made bench with an antique Aubusson pillow on top.  Photographer:  Erik Rank

Foyers can be the most formal part of the house, with a reserved tone.  It is, after all, the public area of the home, where not only friends and family but strangers step inside.  A formal feeling can be achieved with symmetry and  balance, where paired wall art, lamps or potted plants delineate the boundaries.

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Captain’s Quarters celebrates its seaside setting with a custom star rug, and a Dujardin-custom staircase with recessed paneling created by Senior Designer Price Connor. Photographer:  Durstan Saylor

If there is space, it’s nice to add chairs or a bench to the entry.  It adds to the warmth of your welcome.

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Connecticut Green is sustainable design at its best, with an interior window for lighting. The newel post, bringing a bit of Nantucket to Connecticut, resembles a lighthouse with lights that change color. Photographer Durstan Saylor; 

Soothing neutral shades and consistency in design are important when the entry has a view into other rooms of the home.  My collection of walking sticks add punch to the foyer in my home in Connecticut, above.  Each is unique, and the stand gives guests a fun look at one of my unusual collections.

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Briar Patch dazzles with an unusual mirror created from a zinc architectural element from France above an 18th century French candle cupboard.  Photographer:  Terry Pommett

An antique spinning wheel and a set of nesting baskets are conversation starters in this entry way.  An ivy plant is lovely here, instead of flowers,  and serves to bring life to the space.

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Captain George Parker House

In an historic home, such as the sea captain’s house I renovated years ago on Nantucket, period furniture in the entry way is part of the careful attention to authentic details carried throughout the rest of the house.

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Harbor House promises delightful surprises ahead when guests arrive at a half-moon garden gate. Photographer Terry Pommett

Finally, remember that the entrance to your home begins outside.  A charming gate, beautiful plantings or comfortable seating on a covered porch offer a tantalizing hint of what’s behind the front door.