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