Behind the Scenes at the Union Street Inn

The Union Street Inn, Nantucket

The Union Street Inn, Nantucket

A short walk down the cobblestone streets of “faraway island,” as the Native Americans called it, is an intimate boutique hotel called the Union Street Inn.  Owned and operated by Ken and Deborah Withrow,  experienced hoteliers who make the inn the luxurious and welcoming place that it is, this circa 1770’s hotel is a classic example of Nantucket architecture in the heart of the island village. I first designed the inn’s gracious circa 1700’s rooms thirteen years ago, and I have just had the pleasure of redesigning the inn from top to bottom for another generation of guests.  (Go here to see photos of the inn as it looked before the redesign!)

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Next month, I’ll share some wonderful photos of the new inn, but first, here’s a peek at what goes on behind the scenes at a design installation!

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How many lamps does it take to fill an inn with light?  Handmade by a potter in Vermont, these lamps are arrayed in careful order before placement in the rooms.

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We found this wonderful antique milk glass doorknob with a Victorian backplate for the door.

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We took fabric and backed it with paper to create the wallpaper shown by this staircase.  It’s a contemporary adaptation of an 18th Century Chinoiserie pattern. (“Chinoiserie” is a french term, meaning ‘Chinese-esque.’)  This is typical of a wallpaper that would have been brought back by a ship’s captain from his ocean travels.

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This is original bullseye glass with the typical 18th Century pontil mark.  To create it, the glass blower would gather about 30 pounds of molten glass at the end of his blow tube and blow the lump out to a small, hollow pear shape. This would then be transferred to a pontil  (a solid rod), and flattened and spun until centrifugal forces flattened the glass out into a smooth disk. When cooled, the pontil would be broken off.  The center piece, called a “bullseye,” would be cut out.  It was considered waste, and was either recycled into the glass furnace, or became an inexpensive pane for windows such as these.

This kind of interior door was common in 18th Century Nantucket.  The glass at the top was necessary in order to detect fires in the room without opening the door.

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Here is Price Connors helping to unload a truck full of treasures for the inn!

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Here I am, taking my turn with the unloading!  Everyone pitched in.

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Once the tables were safely inside, the real fun began.  Where, oh where, do all these tables go?

I’ll show you just where everything ended up in my June Holistic House post.  Ken and Deborah are so pleased with our design work, which makes us very happy!  I think you’ll love it, too.  You can book a visit to the Union Street Inn here.

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