Gently Green Great Design What I love Nantucket Life Please Join Me Healthy Stuff

Gently green conversations with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

Counting Stars in Your Own Backyard

 

Summertime is perfect for travel, to see new sights, taste new foods, and refresh our spirits. Sometimes we return from a vacation, though, only to sigh with relief at the sight of our own front door.  There’s something to be said for a chance to relax without packing a suitcase, airport delays, and crowds of tourists. With a little advance planning, we can turn a stay at home into a luxurious retreat.

 

 

Start by thinking about what you love when you travel. If the feeling of luxury and being pampered is part of what makes a hotel stay desirable, then recreate that escape at home. Toss out old bedding, and invest in good quality organic cotton sheets. They’ll feel wonderful against your skin, and will support your health by being toxin-free. Buy new pillows, and add a soft alpaca throw at the bottom of the bed.

 

 

Rejuvenating your body as well as your mind and spirit should be your priority for this vacation. Consider purchasing a room air purifier. A HEPA filter will remove allergens and particulates from the air you breathe, then recirculate purified air back into the room.

 

 

I have a whole house air purification system that keeps the air in my home pristine, and my guests tell me they’ve never felt better or more energized.

 

 

Bring the best summer has to offer inside! I love the look of nautical throw pillows. Add shells and beach-inspired decor to keep you feeling like your toes are in the sand.

 

 

I love my collection of vintage sand pails, reminding me that this is the season to remember the delights of childhood, or enjoy them again with little people you love.

 

 

Plan a day trip (or three!) to places in your area that you just don’t have time to get to on a regular basis. One of my favorite destinations on Nantucket is Pumpkin Pond Farm. My good friend Marty McGowan is an organic farmer who blesses the island with gorgeous flowers and delicious homegrown produce. The recent Tomato Tasting there was a delight for all the senses.

 

 

Indulge in all the bounty of fresh summer foods–tomatoes, corn, peaches, plums, and fragrant herbs. Try a new recipe every night!

 

 

When the afternoon sun starts to make you drowsy, there’s nothing like a window seat where you can curl up with a book to read or to nap.

 

 

Since you’re staying home, family and friends may be traveling to see you. Arrange guest rooms with the kind of touches that help people feel at home. A small table or chair where they can place their luggage is appreciated. Fill a basket with books you’ve enjoyed, soaps and lotions, and extra towels. The best way to decide if your guest room is ready is to sleep there for a night yourself.

 

 

There’s nothing more romantic than a summer evening, so don’t stay indoors and miss it. Be sure to make your patio or deck as comfortable as the interior of your home, with tables, umbrellas, and lots of wonderful places to sit, with cushions and throw pillows so you can relax.

 

 

String white lights with vintage lanterns..

 

 

Light lots of candles.

 

 

Then listen for the owls, and count the stars in your own backyard.

 

 

 

Let the Sun Shine In!

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After a long, cool spring in the Northeast, the calendar–and the weather–have agreed that summer has finally arrived. Let’s throw open the windows and doors, and rethink the way we live at home. it’s easy to feel as F. Scott Fitzgerald did when he said, “I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

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Start with spring cleaning: To fully embrace the beauty of balmy breezes and abundant sunshine, we need to remove winter’s dry stuffy air from the house, and scrub the hidden spaces where dust collects. We don’t need to bring toxic cleaning products into our homes. It’s better to clean with baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar, or else choose environmentally friendly products, rather than dousing our living space with chemicals.  I’ve written about how to Clean Green before: read more here. 

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Think about re-establishing order. Stacks of books and blankets left by the fireplace should be put back where they belong, and then you can recreate the room for a completely different experience. Once the room has become a blank slate again, bring out the things of summer! Bright colors and garden stools definitely belong inside.

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Add beauty and fragrance with fresh flowers. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, then you have a florist shop at your fingertips! Cut flowers early in the morning while the sun is still low in the sky and the dew has not yet dried. They’ll be fresher, and last longer. Immediately plunge the stems into a bucket of water, then put flowers or a flowering plant in every space you can, including the bathroom. Summer is a celebration of things that grow!

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The days of blocking our windows with heavy draperies are behind us. Make sure your windows are sparkling clean, then let the natural light pour in with minimal window treatments, or if you need the privacy, wooden blinds are a good choice. Simplicity is beautiful.

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Change your bedding from heavy down comforters and dark colors to light and white. Your spirits will be lifted each time you enter the room. Color affects our emotions in powerful ways.

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I love this room in my Nantucket fisherman’s cottage, decorated with vintage sand pails. Go ahead and celebrate what you loved about summer from your childhood, when the hours between sunrise and starlight seemed to last forever.

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Red, white, and blue always works in the summertime. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, let your patriotic flag fly.

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Don’t be afraid to have a little fun.

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Go nautical, and let your rooms remind you of  beaches, boats, and ocean breezes.

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The time it takes to change your home’s look to sunshine and summer shouldn’t be seen as work. Homes need to be loved, just as people do. By making your home a welcoming, bright and sunny space, you will effortlessly bring more laughter and joy into your life.

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So go ahead: let the sun shine in!

 

Creating an Oasis of Calm

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Good design is defined by the basics of scale, proportion, color, and contrast, among other considerations. To take the concept of a well-designed home one step further, though, is what I call my “tabula rasa,” the oasis of calm that envelopes us when we step inside our doors at the end of the day. Here are my thoughts on how to create that oasis, with simple ways to make your home welcoming, warm, and comfortable to live in.

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Repetition of design elements, such as the columns in this beautiful beachside home, mirror each other from room to room, and define a space. Repeated in subtle ways throughout a house, they are the details that subconsciously soothe with symmetry.

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In this New York City bedroom, the Greek Key is repeated in furniture, floor and bed linens, relaxing in its soft echoes.

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Simple ways to reduce clutter, such as window seats with drawers for storage underneath, keep a room open and serene. I often say that “the eye needs a place to rest.” So does the mind, and the body.

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Tradition is restful for many of us. Finding fine antique pieces to blend in with more contemporary furnishings is calming.

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Surrounding yourself with the things you love is an important way to make your home unique, and fill you with joy every time you enter a room. Billy Baldwin said, “Nothing is interesting unless it is personal.” I would suggest that your most personal treasures that truly express your essence will do so much to lift your spirits.

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Adding one stunning piece that is both eye-and heart-catching can be a singular focal point, another way to gracefully express your interests.

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The color palette that I turn to over and over again is white plus one color. There are so many whites to choose from: crisp white, cool greyed tones, soft blue hues, or rosy tints when the sunlight streams through the windows. It’s pleasing to the eye and the spirit.

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An invisible way to restore energy and help to clear your body of toxins you’ve come across during your busy day is by installing a good heat recovery ventilation system and a whole house air filtration system, for exchanging, filtering and conditioning indoor and outdoor air to lower VOCs.  Honeywell has some that I like that will work with your heating and cooling systems, and recover up to 80% of the heating and cooling energy. Choosing No-VOC paints and finishes keep our homes a haven where our families can enjoy good food, good company, and good health.

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At the very least, invest in a good bedroom air filter, as your liver detoxes during your sleep. Clean air is the best gift you can give yourself to feel your very best.

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Luxury and comfort are not mere indulgences in my mind. Bespoke bed linens, downy comforters, and lofty pillows all summon us to sleep in a place of refuge. An organic mattress filled with cotton and wool and made without chemicals, including fire retardants, is a good choice.

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Don’t forget the bathroom as a space for luxury and well-deserved pampering. Soft towels, natural shampoos and soaps free of irritating chemicals, and organic cotton pajamas waiting by the bath allow us to sink into a restful soak when the sun goes down. Take time for your own end-of-day rituals.

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Oscar Wilde wisely said: “I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.”

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Make your home one of simple pleasures, and a place to savor the all-too-fleeting delights of summer. It’s the easiest path to finding peace of mind.

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A Window on Your World

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Many of us live in the homes we do because of our first glimpse of the house as we came up the drive. Perhaps it was the sound of the sea and the smell of salt water that led us there, and the drive through the dunes romanced us all the way. The creamy yellow daffodils bobbing along the borders, or the dignified old Sugar Maple spreading its arms across the lawn were like love letters from the property, delivered straight to our hearts.

 

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When the front door opens, if the house isn’t just right, well, that can all be fixed. Take down a wall here, widen a doorway there, refinish wood floors, replace sagging windows, and you’ve made it your own, which is one of the goals of interior design, and a very important one. As Billy Baldwin said, “Nothing is interesting unless it is personal.”

 

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No matter how beautiful the interiors are, however, I always feel that the room is blessed when there is a glorious view in sight. Particularly for a home on the water, whether its on the ocean, a river, or a lake, you’re aware of the view. My intent in a home on the waterfront is never to obscure the home’s setting.

 

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In this house, the center hall leads you right to the ocean. If you keep going, as the crow flies, the next stop is Portugal.

 

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Another signature of my design work is my love of window seats. They’re perfect for sitting in the sunlight with a cup of tea on a winter morning to watch the snow fall, or to catch the sea breezes as the day falls to dusk.

 

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They also are functional, as they provide extra seating for guests..

 

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…and in a bedroom, can be designed with drawers for storage underneath.

 

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Whether your view is a sandy beach, an English garden, or your children splashing in the pool, a seat by the window is the perfect spot to take a closer look at your world.

 

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Make a Fresh Start!

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From time to time, people ask me what it’s like to work with an interior designer. I can’t answer that for anyone but myself, although certainly there are industry standards that a properly credentialed interior designer adheres to. In January of this year I wrote about the inspiration for a house, and some of the design process in Every Room Has a Beginning.

work 1That post was about a very specific house, and the kinds of decisions we made with the homeowners to redesign a beloved home after it was moved cross-island to save it from eroding bluffs. Here are a few more things you should know about the design process:

Clients often say that working with Dujardin makes the design process fun again. What can become quickly overwhelming–the details, schedules, plans, and coordination, with architects, contractors, craftsmen and landscapers–are handled seamlessly, resulting in elegant and sophisticated interiors that immediately feel like home. We can incorporate varying degrees of sustainability or design a completely holistic “deep green” residence, always honoring classic tradition while achieving 21st century style.

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Whether you’re building a new home, renovating an existing building, or just designing interiors, it takes a village to create a house.  You may need contractors, architects, carpenters, painters, artists, landscapers, energy system installers, plumbers, tilers, electricians and more.

 

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Having the requisite training in a home’s structure, design and function is what makes me a full and welcome partner in team meetings that include any or all of those participants.

 

Architects and Designers Working in the Office

Architects and Designers Working in the Office

I’ve devoted my life to the study and practice of interior design. I’m a professional member of ASID, and a member of their very select College of Fellows. (That’s what FASID means when you see it after my name.) I’ve just been elected a Senior Fellow for the Design Futures Council, which recognizes my contributions to the sustainable design movement.

ASID Fellows Award

I am a LEED Accredited Professional, with a specialty in Interior Design and Construction. (That’s the LEED AP + ID + C after my name). I belong to a number of professional organizations, have spoken widely about interior design, am an adjunct professor at Fairfield University, and am a professionally trained artist myself. I have a published full-color book of my design work that outlines many of the design principles I believe in.

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Once we’ve decided to work together, the planning begins. We start with measurements, and a study of your home’s traffic flow, light sources, assessment of what the room will be used for, and by whom. We talk to you about what you love, and how you envision your home. The goal is to make your home an elegant reflection of your very unique lifestyle and family.  To help you “see” the finished product, we create a beautiful binder showing you what we suggest. Here’s an example of a page showing window treatment and lamp options.

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Let’s look at one specific room together. First, we show you a layout with all the furniture we suggest, and where it will be placed.

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Next, our in-house artist creates a watercolor rendering to give you a feeling for the colors and furniture we think will be perfect.

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We present several different styles of breakfronts. You choose which you like best.

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And then we look at different chair styles.

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Other pieces to be included in the room are next.

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Finally, it’s time to look at fabrics.

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There are thousands of choices to be made in designing a home, and mistakes can be expensive. By breaking every decision down to carefully selected options, our clients quickly feel in control of the process. They have a partner who cares as much about their home as they do, and we have a great time shopping together, talking together, and making decisions together. After several discussions about what our client likes and prefers, orders are placed. Here’s a look at the finished dining room following this process.

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My education, training and credentials, as well as my professional team members, are all important in creating the home of your dreams. But I also believe that creating a beautiful, healthy, comfortable home should be FUN! My clients often refer to me as the “funmaker,” because I love designing homes, and we want the entire project, start to finish, to be something you enjoy. We take care of the hard work for you.

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Believe it or not, we’re still having fun! We love our work.

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Inspired by the Sea: Maritime Artwork

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The painting above has been missing for twenty five years. Rembrandt van Rijn painted it, and titled it “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.” It used to hang in the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, but was stolen in an art heist in 1990, a theft that removed a billion dollars worth of art from the museum.

Art depicting the sea has been popular for centuries. Rembrandt painted “The Storm” in 1633, part of the Dutch Golden Age, when marine painting was a major genre. A little bit of history explains why: overseas trade and naval power were hugely important to the Dutch Republic, and so began the very first career marine artists, who painted almost nothing else.

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 The Battle of Trafalgar, J.M.W. Turner

The Romantic Age (roughly 1800-1850) saw marine painting surge in popularity. Detailed portraits of ships and the sea were sought from painters such as J.M.W. Turner, for whom painting the sea was an obsession. He was commissioned to paint “The Battle of Trafalgar,” a far cry from the kinds of coastal scenes that followed from other painters, featuring tranquil waters and soft light.

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Lake George, 1862, Martin Johnson Heade

America experienced its own romance with marine art when immigrants, mostly English, came to the U.S. in the 19th century. Their arrival coincided with the coast being regarded as a place of leisure rather than work and danger. Beach scenes, coastal landscapes and river views became more common, especially among the Impressionists.

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New York Yacht Club Race, James Edward Buttersworth

The poet Mary Oliver calls the sea “this enormity, this cauldron of changing greens and blues,..the great palace of the earth. Everything is in it–monsters, devils, jewels, swimming angels, soft-eyed mammals…also, sunk with some ship or during off-loading, artifacts of past decades or centuries…” No wonder we’re fascinated by it!

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 America’s Cup, by Michael Keane

I use marine paintings in many of my client’s homes. Coastal scenes are also found throughout my own home, several depicting places I’ve loved and lived. I’ve written before about some of my favorite painters, including many beautiful works by my friend, Michael Keane.

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Blue Horizon, Michael Keane

No matter where they’re hung, marine paintings bring peace and beauty to a space, lifting us somehow into another place, where we can almost feel the sea breeze.

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The beautiful living room, below, has several fine examples of marine art, including pieces by Antonio Jacobsen and Michael Keane. The portrait to the left is of an 18th century sea captain, another way to bring the seafaring life to your home.

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Bedrooms are particularly good places to hang favorite pieces of marine art, as the soft blues and greens and even the white capped waves can add to the room’s soothing ambiance.

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Painting over mantel is by American artist Tim Thompson

Any room can benefit from a striking marine painting. Here, artwork by renowned oil painter Tim Thompson enlivens the space.

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Another work by Tim Thompson hangs above the sofa in a Nantucket home on the harbor.

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Finding galleries with knowledgeable professionals to assist in buying art is an indispensable part of collecting any artwork. I particularly have loved working with Quidley and Company, both in Boston and on Nantucket Island at 26 Main Street.

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Another favorite gallery is Cavalier Galleries, with locations in Greenwich, Connecticut, New York City, and on Nantucket, at 10 Federal Street.

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A famous gallery known nationwide is J. Russell Jinishian, in Fairfield, Connecticut. Tucked away on a quiet street outside of town, people who know marine art know about this very special gallery just an hour away from New York City. Its extensive inventory includes over 1,000 marine paintings, drawings, sculptures, ship models and scrimshaw, by some of the world’s leading marine artists. Mr. Jinishian will be speaking on marine art on April 24th at 7 p.m. at the Black Rock Yacht Club, Black Rock, Connecticut.

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J. Russell Jinishian Gallery, Fairfield, CT

The beauty of the ocean will always call to us, so maritime art and marine paintings will, likewise, always be sought after. Whether you are fortunate enough to own artwork by an old master, a revered artist who has passed on, or are enjoying the experience of collecting art by some of our wonderful living artists, your home will always be enhanced by your purchases.

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As Mary Oliver says, “…on the water we shake off the harness of weight; we glide; we are passengers of a sleek ocean bird with its single white wing filled with wind.”

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The Last Trap, by Michael Keane

Time Travel: Antiques in Design

Using antiques to create distinctive interiors for my clients is a longtime signature of Dujardin Design Associates, Inc. Striking, original looks can be achieved by blending old and new, traveling across time to access the most beautiful furniture, accessories, objets d’art, paintings and rugs.I believe that every room has space for something old, a one-of-a-kind treasure that speaks of our shared past. Above, we used a wall hanging composed of 18th century Tibetan Buddhist prayers written on bamboo to bring Far Eastern calm to a contemporary space.


My favorite thing about using antiquesin my interiors? They’re the ultimate in green! Repeatedly recycled over decades, these pieces have been made from old-growth wood, protecting today’s forests, have long ago completed any off-gassing from the finishing process, and slow the resource intensive cycle of new production. Above, contemporary lamps, sconces and tables blend elegantly with an antique German Beidermeier armoire and mirror over the mantle.


There is beauty in contrasts. Rather than trying to achieve a single, monotone look, give your living spaces the dash and dazzle of opposites. In this Nantucket home, we paired a 19th century gilt mirror with 21st century whale art in hand-blown glass by Raven Skyriver.


Just as you might add a fabulous piece of vintage jewelry to complete an outfit, your room can use some jewelry too. The room above is bejeweled with the Tang Dynasty horse on the shelf near the window and the 18th century Chinese cocktail table, along with other priceless Asian artifacts.


I love the look of this marine-encrusted, glazed stoneware storage jar, dating from the 15th-17th centuries and found in the South China Sea.

One way to showcase old pieces is to use them in unusual ways . Here we took an antique rug and hung it on the wall as a stylish piece of art.

Juxtaposing a sleek white bedside table with an elaborately carved antique bed from the West Indies is a beautifully soothing contrast.

Don’t be afraid to use color to enliven an old piece. Unless it’s a priceless treasure, go ahead and paint it, refinish it, change the drawer pulls, and make it your own. Or let it keep its timeworn patina. Either way, it’s a fascinating addition to your living space.

Let your antique collections add fun and a little surprise. These small articulated artists’ models are the whimsical touch that brings this space to unexpected life. Another wonderful thing about antiques is that they add a completely unique look to your home. You won’t find these models available in catalogs or at mass market retail stores.

Ready to go shopping? Don’t miss the The Nantucket Historical Association’s annual Antiques and Design Show, this year from July 29th to August 3rd. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Serendipity!

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What does Serendipity mean to you? It’s most often the occurrence of events by chance in a happy or fortunate way. That certainly describes my pleasure in meeting the Home Editor of Serendipity Magazine, Stephanie Horton, and her wonderful feature on a home I designed not once but twice on Nantucket Island. It’s in the June 2015 issue!

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If you can pick up a copy of the magazine, I encourage you to do so.

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If not, I tell the story here  of the house that was moved from its precarious location on a bluff three times to save it from the rapidly encroaching sea. Island erosion can be dangerous to homes, but this beautiful Edwardian-era house was successfully moved and brought back to new life.

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Take a closer look!

Every Room Has a Beginning

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Have you ever walked into a room and wondered where to begin? Interior designers face this question all the time. There’s always a starting point, a moment of inspiration. It may be the window with the stunning view and the way the sunlight slants into the room, or a family heirloom or painting that helps define colors and style.

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In this case, the entire house we’d first designed and completed in 1995 was picked up and moved across Nantucket Island. Erosion on Sconset Bluff had caused the home to be moved from its precarious position first in 2008, and again only a few years later.

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When the house was carefully set down again in its new location facing Nantucket Harbor, it was time to take a new look at the Edwardian-era home. The owners still loved what we created almost 20 years earlier, but wanted an updated version, while still retaining their favorite pieces from the original design. As part of the design process, my team and I began with detailed scaled drawings that showed our concept of the space.

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In the living room, the owners loved the custom rug in their favorite colors, with a floral pattern reminiscent of their beloved gardens. The decision to keep the rug I designed in 1994 set the stage for everything that followed. Besides the “green” ideal of re-using existing pieces, it is so rewarding when a client loves what you created so much that they want to keep the feel of the original design from years ago.

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Renderings are particularly helpful with long-distance clients. A board was sent to the owners detailing the fabrics, the carpet runners and the faux paint wall treatments. The colors were updated. Celestial blue and white blended with soft touches of buttery yellow would make the home as inviting as a summer sky. The designs, though traditional, were clean lined and reflected the simpler tastes of the 21st century.

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Fabrics for the living room were sent for approval, along with the design for window treatment. An up-to-date tailored valance with panels replaced the floral English country house look. Both panels and valance were accented with a custom trim we created from a striped fabric.

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We also retained most of the original furnishings, which were reupholstered with new fabrics. The chairs were redone in indoor/outdoor fabric, with cording and tape trim for a touch of detail.

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Options for additional pieces of furniture were proposed for the living room. From the pieces submitted, the clients chose two conversation groups and a game table area to be placed by the windows.

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An artist created the unique wall treatment, with stenciled shells accenting important architectural features. The shell pattern related the home to the harbor and the sea beyond. The Blue Willow patterned fabric on the sofa pillows recalled Nantucket history and the days when sea captains brought back gifts of Chinese Export porcelain.

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In just ten months, we managed a comprehensive house redesign, incorporating favorite pieces from the original home and seamlessly blending them into a sophisticated, 21st century style for an expanding family of parents, grown children, new in-laws, and grandchildren. From a two- to three-month planning and selection phase to a six- to seven-month ordering and implementation phase, we completely redesigned a house with four floors and seven bedrooms.

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It was an amazing amount of work in a short time frame, but the clients were happy with every single detail of their new home, and so were we.

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My Whirlwind Book Tour

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It’s hard to pick the best part of the experience of writing and launching a book, but the chance to meet so many wonderful people, see my many dear friends, and share my message of sustainable design and green living has been very rewarding! Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior was first introduced on Nantucket, and then we were off to Boston and New York!  Join me for a look back at the friends who opened their doors to me and have helped to make Comfort Zone a success!

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First stop: 26 Main Street, Nantucket, at Quidley and Co.!  A beautiful summer evening brought friends, visitors, wine, and hors d’ouevres together for a festive introduction for Comfort Zone!

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A big thank you to Chris Quidley for hosting our first party. Here he is with Dujardin Design’s Sondy Rexford and Price Connors.

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Next stop: 54 Main Street, Nantucket, and Mitchell’s Book Corner! This is where I gave  my very first talk about what it was like to write Comfort Zone, and all the information inside!

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I explained to my guests at Mitchell’s that Comfort Zone could just be read as a beautiful design book, with more than 350 color photographs, or readers could drill down deeper and really learn about sustainable design.

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Then it was on to One Chestnut Street, Nantucket, and the beautiful Flowers on Chestnut.

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Comfort Zone and I were warmly welcomed by shop owner Michael Molinar.

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My longtime friend, renowned marine artist Michael Keane stopped by to see us. Here we are with my dad, (and my biggest fan), Robert Stefanov. For a look at Michael Keane’s incredible talent, see my blog post The Sea-Worthy Artwork of Michael Keane.

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We couldn’t launch a book without a stop to see our friends Ken and Deborah Withrow at the Union Street Inn. We’ve been entrusted with designing the inn’s historic common areas and guest rooms twice. It was a beautiful day to enjoy the inn’s back patio. Here I am with Ken!

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Before we knew it, it was September, and I was scheduled to appear at What’s New, What’s Next? at the New York Design Center, 200 Lex. This time I was welcomed at Calger Lighting, where Carmella Califano had arranged wine and hors d’ouevres (and some amazing brownies!) for all our guests that day.

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My husband, Frank Fasanella, is always there to support me (even taking care of business from our book tour!) Here I am with Calger’s Carmella Califano.

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Up for the drive to Boston, anyone? Come along for my panel discussion at the Boston Design Center!

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Kyle Hoepner of New England Home Magazine moderated a panel on sustainable architecture and design. I was joined by John R. DaSilva, AIA, of Polhemus Savery DaSilva, and Susan Brisk, a kitchen and bath designer and a faculty member at Boston Architectural College. The morning was sponsored by EcoModern Design and Cosentino. Eco-Modern’s David Sanborn and Cosentino’s Merry Leclerc joined us in this photo.

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A book signing followed at EcoModern Design’s showroom. They put out a delicious spread of appetizers to welcome our guests. A big thank you to David Sanborne and the staff at EcoModern!

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Then it was back to Connecticut, and a visit to Fairfield University’s bookstore on Post Road in Fairfield.

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Many of the university’s design students attended and we had a lively discussion on sustainable design.

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My thanks to Elizabeth Hastings for arranging such a lovely evening. Here I am with Rob Hardy, the director of Interior Design programs at Fairfield University.

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No time to rest yet! Next on the schedule: a panel discussion on why antiques are the ultimate in green. Hosted by de Le Cuona during Fall Market at the Decoration and Design Building in New York, Creating an Eco-Elegant Interior was the topic for moderator Kerry Howard, who led the discussion. My co-panelist was The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines. I wish you all could have been there!

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Finally, the fabulous New York launch of Comfort Zone! Hosted by the gracious Stark family at Stark Carpet, we threw ourselves a wonderful fete, with Prosecco and wine, delicious bites and sparkling conversation. It was truly the celebration of the year!

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Our hosts for the evening: John and Chad Stark. My deepest appreciation for their warm support and beautiful showroom!

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Lots of books…

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and lots of signing!

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The party in full swing!

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It was truly an elegant and very special evening.

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And on October 20, here we are at Currey and Co. in High Point, North Carolina. On the right is company owner Bob Currey with his poodle companion, Reeves. My deepest thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this tour possible!

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Creating Comfort Zone

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Why write a book?

Writing Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior, the book that capsulizes my design work over the past decades and that shares my message on the importance of sustainable design and living, has been one of the most rewarding periods in my career. It has also been one of the most demanding, when combined with a busy professional and personal life!

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At an installation on Nantucket with Senior Designer Price Connors

Here’s why I did it: I have a story to tell. Part of my story is about the importance of creating a home that is a place where we can rest and restore ourselves, a place of comfort. Part of my story is about the importance of surrounding ourselves with beauty, because beauty elevates our hearts and minds. Beautiful, high-style design is intended to both soothe and inspire.

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Rooms in a home are not merely functional. When properly appointed, our home’s interiors provide a true background for all the important moments of our lives. How an interior designer assembles a room, piece by piece, is always unique to the individual, and combines the best training, background and experience, our own vision and feeling for a home, and the client’s dreams.

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Comfort Zone is a peek behind the curtain: a look at the process, and the results!

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And part of my story, a very large part, is about my belief that having the best means doing the best, for our homes, our health, and the environment.

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As a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty in Interior Design and Construction, a public speaker at environmental forums, as well as an adjunct professor at Fairfield University, a large part of my career has been devoted to educating clients, students and friends about the importance of living “green.” I agree with the wisdom of author Rita Mae Brown, who said, “I believe you are your work. Don’t trade the stuff of your life, time, for nothing more than dollars. That’s a rotten bargain.”

greening of the house

Comfort Zone shares my knowledge about how to create a healthy home, knowledge I’ve accumulated over a lifetime. There is a wealth of information, including step by step plans for renovating your own home sustainably. You can read it to find out more about why antique furniture is a surprisingly eco-friendly addition to your home, or why you should consider No-VOC paints, organic wool carpets and FSC-certified woods. You can learn how to make a home lightly green, moderately green, or deeply green. You can read it simply as a beautiful design book, but all the information is there to help you live more healthfully.

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Perhaps the most valuable page or two is a directory of green products and services, my carefully vetted list of sustainable resources.  An up-to-the-minute feature is an app called Layar, interactive print technology that adds a touch of magic. By downloading the Layar app to your smart phone or tablet, you can hover above any of six pages in the book and Layar will take you to additional on-line information. That information that will be updated regularly so that you will always have access to the latest ideas, products and thoughts on eco-elegant living.

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Of course Comfort Zone was created using acid -free, FSC-certified cotton cloth covers and interior vellums, and printed with vegetable-based ink from renewable sources. Next month’s posts will describe more about my trip to Venice to oversee the latest in eco-responsible printing processes there.

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Last, the book itself was designed to be a lovely piece of art. Book designer Stafford Cliff, part of the wonderful team at Pointed Leaf Press, publishers of Comfort Zone, brought my ideas to life with his intuitive understanding of my work, and my passion for the earth.

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He and the very talented Dominick Santise produced the stunning end papers, vellums, and details that make Comfort Zone the treasure that it is. I will always be grateful for the way their hearts and hands contributed to this work.

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A famous American architect, Daniel Burnham, said, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood…Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.” I have aimed high in hope and work with Comfort Zone. I want you to aim high in hope and work in making your home a healthy sanctuary for yourselves, your families, your pets and your friends.

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Because A Healthy Home is the Ultimate Luxury. (TM)

Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior is available online at Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, or through Pointed Leaf Press. You can also find it at your own local book store, or ask to have it ordered there.

Happy reading!

 

Bring Summer and the Seaside In

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It’s May, and many people are heading for their summer homes, ready for long, lazy days in sun and sand. You don’t need a vacation home to make your house summer-ready, though. Try some of these ideas for bringing summer and the seaside in!

seaside rooms

Use light-colored, indoor/outdoor fabrics and wicker or rattan furniture to add a summery feel to your rooms. Indoor/outdoor fabrics also make for a more relaxed environment, as clean up is a breeze.

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An artfully placed starfish or shell says you love the beach! Painted white furniture and light colored fabrics are another warm-weather touch.

seaside flowers

Nautical prints or paintings of boats, water and ocean beaches are a window to the world you love.

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Slip into the garden early in the morning when the grass is still cool beneath your feet, and cut a few fresh flowers for a small vase on your bedside table. You’ll love falling asleep with the light fragrance of blossoms to scent your dreams.

seaside bedroom

A light, bright room always feels summery. Change your bedding to an all-white coverlet, toss a brightly colored throw onto the end of the bed, and stack clean white birch logs in the fireplace.

Natural fiber fabric and rug

Add texture and interest with natural rugs underfoot, such as sisal, hemp, jute or seagrass. Plant fiber rugs are sustainably harvested, renewable, and biodegradable, an added bonus to their beauty!

Redhead Ducks; Hen; Ducklings

Photo by Neil Mishler U.S. FWS.

Finally, celebrate summer’s beauty by making a pledge to help protect America’s waterways and all the creatures who depend on them for their lives. Visit the Natural Wildlife Federation to learn how you can help. 

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“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” –John Lubbock, The Use of Life 

 

My Seaside Inspiration

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My life on two coastlines (Long Island Sound in Connecticut, and Nantucket Island) inspires my design work in a very personal way. I have always been drawn to the colors of sand, sea, sky and sails.  As I walk the beaches near my homes, I see exquisitely colored shells, small sea animals and picturesque harbors, all of which find their way into the interiors I create . Let me show you my seaside inspiration.

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Horned Ghost Crab

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Conch shell on beach

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shell white and blue copy

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Seashells close-up

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Rope Knot On Wood

Abstract shell

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“I felt the full breadth and depth of the ocean around the sphere of the earth, back billions of years to the beginning of life, across all the passing lives and deaths, the endless waves of swimming joy and quiet losses of exquisite creatures with fins and fronds, tentacles and wings, colorful and transparent, tiny and huge, coming and going. There is nothing the ocean has not seen.”–Sally Andrew

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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.

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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.

 

A Nantucket Beach Nest

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The June 2013 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens Magazine  features a new Dujardin-designed home on Nantucket!  Written by Jamie Marshall and photographed by longtime Dujardin friend Terry Pommet, the home is beautifully presented beginning on page 64.

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We created interiors with bright splashes of blue and Hermes orange in this six-bedroom, shingle -style cottage for a young family with two teenage daughters.  A short fifteen-minute walk to town, the new home was customized by Dujardin Design Associates from the studs up, including exquisite details such as the wood floor in the entry hall with its hand-painted Harlequin pattern. The rattan-wrapped dresser and table in the foyer are meant to evoke the Breakers in Palm Beach, circa 1950s.

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Senior Designer Price Connors created custom built-ins and mahogany topped cabinets for easy storage throughout the home, including hideaway space in the bright and airy bedrooms.

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The color palette is crisp and clean, with most walls painted white or ivory with bright white trim. We added interest with pops of color, such as this nautical rope border!

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Color continues into all the bedrooms, including this lilac-themed room!

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And this blue beauty!

blue bedroomSignature colors were added to the kitchen with stools and bistro chairs handwoven in France.

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There’s an oriental influence in the dining room, with a pagoda-shaped tole chandelier above the glass dining table.  Gothic backed rattan dining chairs and a rattan bar cart add a classic touch.

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The patio and garden continue the colorful palette, offering another glorious space to enjoy  summer on Nantucket.

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In the Days of Sailors and Scrimshaw

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Scrimshaw is the beautiful art form first practiced beginning in 1749, in the days of whaling ships, wizened sea captains and hardy sailors.  Whaling was a dangerous undertaking and could never be attempted at night, leaving sailors with free time on their hands.  They used it for carving elaborate pictures, lettering and scrollwork on the bones and teeth of sperm whales and the tusks of walruses and other marine animals. The work they left behind is a treasured collectible today. The extremely rare white tortoiseshell shown above is an early nineteenth century British scrimshaw, displayed in my home in Madaket.  The whaler’s handwork details ships, whales and equipment used in the seafaring life.

 

antique scrimshaw poker chips

antique scrimshaw poker chips

John F. Kennedy was an avid scrimshaw collector, and brought it back into fashion when he displayed his 37 piece collection in the oval office in the 1960s.  Today scrimshaw artists (called scrimshanders) can work with eco-friendly or man-made materials, including cow bones, antlers and ostrich eggs.

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This 18th Century scrimshaw is carved from a whale tooth.

It’s impossible to write about the beauty of scrimshaw, though, without first acknowledging the damage being done to tusked animals today by poaching.  Where once a ship would set sail with its sights on a whale, and then use every part of the animal for meat, energy and art, there was not an understanding that the seas were a finite resource.

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A sea turtle was once plentiful enough that the people of the 18th and 19th centuries could hardly imagine that that creature or any other would be endangered, and in need of protection.  Today, though, we are seeing a rapid decline of animals with tusks and horns, often slaughtered for just those parts of their anatomy and left to decompose.  Although antique scrimshaw is available for purchase and collecting, strict laws are now in place for animal protection. Elephant ivory has been protected since 1976, and is prohibited from being shipped into the United States or practically any other country in the world.

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Photo credit:  World Resources

Poaching continues, however. Rhinos are a threatened animal, under siege for their horns, used in Chinese medicine and particularly sought after in Vietnam.  Consumers use ground rhino powder as a health aid, although there is no supporting evidence that it has any impact. Poachers killed 668 rhinos in South Africa in 2012, a 50% increase over the previous year. The World Wildlife Fund estimates another 800 rhinos will die in 2013. To protect them, wildlife managers are injecting the horns of live rhinos with poison and permanent pink dye to make them useless to poachers.  Although the poison is not fatal, it will make anyone who consumes the powdered rhino horn ill with nausea and diarrhea.

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Photo credit:  Boyd Norton, via Helped by Animals

Anna Merz, who died on April 4, 2013 in South Africa, started a reserve to protect her beloved black rhinos and became a global leader in the fight against their extinction.   She is shown in the photo above with the rhino she hand-raised as an orphaned baby, Samia.  Samia was devoted to Merz, and followed her everywhere, even trying to enter the house behind her before becoming stuck in the doorway.  When Samia gave birth to babies, she presented them to Merz like any proud mother.

Anti-poaching campaigns are underway worldwide, but more attention is needed to protect the earth’s precious resources.  Learn more about how you can help from The African Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, or Stop Rhino Poaching.

“I Send Thee a Shell from the Ocean-Beach”

Clients often ask me where I get my inspiration for the colors and textures for the rooms I design.  The world outside my door is a constant source of inspiration, especially the sea. (Read an earlier post on my color inspiration here.) I also love to read, and my library is full of beautifully illustrated books that fill my hands and my heart when I can’t be on my beloved Nantucket.

It’s no secret that I have always loved seashells; the logo for my company is a Nautilus shell, a beautiful example of what is called a golden spiral (also known as a logarithmic spiral).   Choosing the Nautilus shell was not accidental:  it perfectly represents a profession where proportion and balance are key to achieving a pleasing design.  We may not need to understand the science behind a masterfully (and mathematically) balanced design, but we are naturally drawn to elegant and balanced compositions, repeatedly found in nature.

This is a close-up photograph of a spiral palm leaf.

The concept of what makes the proportions of the chambers of a Nautilus shell so beautiful is explained by something called The Fibronacci series, often referred to as nature’s numbering system.  It is displayed to perfect effect in the bracts of a pinecone, the heart of a sunflower, the scales of a pineapple, a grain of wheat, a hive of bees, the spiral palm, and even in the proportions of the human body. Leonardo Da Vinci portrayed this concept with his sketch of Vitruvian Man.

Many architects and artists have proportioned their work according to geometric principles known as the golden rectangle, the golden mean and the golden ratio, aesthetically pleasing proportions found over and over again in nature, in stems of plants and veins in leaves, and of course, in seashells such as the Nautilus.

In a golden rectangle, the smaller rectangle is the same shape as the larger rectangle, in other words, their sides are proportional. The curved design of the chambered nautilus shell and the ratios between each of the spirals reveal the fascinating connection between nature, geometry and architecture.  Read more here.

A staircase in the Padula Charthouse, a monastery in Southern Italy, founded in 1306.

Each single shell represents the world of nature’s intricate and mysterious designs, and is a work of art in itself. It is no wonder their shapes are frequently mirrored in our homes and lasting pieces of architecture.

Spiral staircase in an old mansion.

I frequently place shells where they can be seen and admired, especially in beachside homes. In case you’re looking for a little inspiration yourself, here are two seashell books you might find on my coffee table if you were to visit:

 

The World’s Most Beautiful Seashells won the Coffee Table Book Award of the National Association of Independent Publishers for 1996. Filled with stunning pictures by photographer James H. (Pete) Carmichael, who is especially well-known for his work with shells, butterflies, and rainforests, the wonderfully-written text is by Leonard Hill, a lifetime shell enthusiast, and a biologist employed by the US government who monitors the health of the oceans.

If you’ve ever come home from the beach with a pocket full of seashells, then this book was written just for you! Written by Marlene Hurley Marshall,  it’s filled with inspiring ideas of all the wonderful things you can do with your beachy treasures. Frames, chandeliers,  boxes, mirrors:  they can all be enhanced with memories of your time spent seaside.

 

“I send thee a shell from the ocean-beach;
But listen thou well, for my shell hath speech.
Hold to thine ear
And plain thou’lt hear
Tales of ships.”

Source, Listening to seashells
Charles Henry Webb, With a Nantucket Shell, reported in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

Color Inspiration: Shades of the Sea

“The rushing of the sea–tides of the soul; And inspirations, that we deem our own.”

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

If you have ever faced the ocean and known bliss in that moment when the horizon blends into the water, and all you see about you are shades of blue and cream, luminous gold and palest rose, then the sea may just be your color inspiration, as it is mine.  I have always been inspired by nature:  my muse is found in the dappled quiet of forest paths, the brilliant sunrise shedding gold on fields of flowers, and the buttermilk sky when clouds are gathering.  But always and forever, I have turned to the sea.

photo: Rob Berkley

I want to share with you some of my favorite scenes and colors, found in the wildly tossing ocean waves, as well as the gently muted tones of the sea glass I find later on the sand.  This is my world of color inspiration.  Come take a look with me!

photo:  Terry Pommett

There are hundreds of shades of blue.  They can change whether a room is lit by sunlight or candlelight.

photo:  Terry Pommett

photo:  Terry Pommett

Green is the essence of serenity, especially when combined with milky white.  It makes a bedroom such a restful space.

 

photo:  Erik Rank

Glass tiles can gracefully recall seaside blues and greys, and the fluidity of water.

photo:  Terry Pommett

The white of sand, the blue of sky, and ocean views from uncovered windows combine to make this room an inviting respite from the world.

photo:  Michael Partenio

Sometimes color is the merest whisper, yet is always powerful.  Whites can be soft oatmeal or shimmery mother of pearl, pinks are romantic or playful, greens are apple or sage, blues are nostalgic and faded or bold and lustrous.

 

There are so many breathless moments I’ve spent at the shore, with the wind in my face.  The cold splash of waves awakens me to the vibrancy of life, and suddenly I know a bold cobalt is the perfect counterpoint to purest white.  A room comes together in my mind.

photo:  Terry Pommett

Books are another beloved source of inspiration for me.  One of my favorites is simply called Waves by Steve Hawk.  His photographs bring me back to the beaches I love, even when I’m far away.  You can almost hear sea gulls with every turn of the page.

An Unexpected Treasure

The July 2012 issue of Nantucket Today Magazine offers a look into a Dujardin-designed home that is aptly described as An Unexpected Treasure, at least for the midwestern couple who lovingly renovated it and calls it home.  For me and my design staff, working here was a delight and a pleasure.  Come take a tour with me and see this “upside down” house as they are known on Nantucket, then be sure to pick up the July issue of Nantucket Today for more.

An “upside down” house, in traditional island style, is one in which the living areas and master bedroom are on the second floor, in order to take advantage of stunning water views best seen from a higher vantage point.  This secluded home has a beachy charm overlaid with elegance, where precious antiques and original artwork are blended with personal mementos.  The dining table above is an antique lacemaker’s table, surrounded by a set of painted 19th century chairs.

This Swedish Apothecary chest is one of the unexpected treasures found throughout the home.  Although its owners are challenged to fill every one of the twenty drawers, we knew it would be perfect here.  We re-envisioned the space for this striking piece!

Unusual artwork that doubles as a conversation starter works beautifully in an entry way, when guests are being welcomed.  Their first view of the home should be an enticing one, promising equally interesting and elegant rooms to come.  Created for Dujardin Design by artist Christian Thee to suggest a pirate’s treasure map, the couple’s favorite spots on the island are pinpointed:  the basket museum, the Great Harbor Yacht Club, and the airport where they joyfully make their island arrival.

Shelves in the master bedroom showcase a fabulous Nantucket lighthouse basket collection, one of the many ways the design of the home mirrors the couple and their interests. I feel that it’s important to express your unique personality and passions in your most private space.  A separate sitting area in the bedroom offers a place of rest and repose.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this window into a home filled with meaningful beauty, with beloved art and objects that are bring pleasure because they are personal.  That simple approach helps to make this house a happy home, a place where friends are welcomed and memories are made, where every sunset and ocean breeze is cherished, and life itself is an unexpected treasure.

All photography:  Terry Pommett

 

 

 

 

The Most Famous (and Expensive) House on Nantucket Today

Each of the homes I’ve designed and decorated over the years holds a special place in my heart.  My memories include each home’s unique location and the vistas that surround it, the way the light slants into the rooms, its architecture and elegant features (or the design plans that created columns, fireplaces and cornices exactly where they needed to be), as well as the time I spent working with the home’s owners.  So often, a working relationship begins with a blueprint, and ends in a friendship.

A home that has catapulted to fame in the news (recently featured in both Forbes Magazine and the Boston Globe) is the Russell Phelon estate on Nantucket.  When Mr. Phelon purchased the home on 69 acres in 1997, he intended it as a family get-away.  Known on the island as the Swain’s Neck Compound, after the private peninsula it inhabits (known on old maps as Swain’s Neck), it was sold for a then staggering sum of $7.15 million.  Mr. Phelon passed away in March, sadly, and the family is listing the home for sale.  It’s asking price?  $59 million, or 725% more than the price he paid 15 years ago.

So the home I knew intimately then is on the market now, and I wanted to share some photos of one of the most spectacular homes I know.

I hope you enjoy this glimpse into a special and elegant home.  I’ve enjoyed remembering the time I spent there!

All photography:  Terry Pommett

 

 

Behind the Scenes at a Photo Shoot

I recently shared photos of a beautiful Dujardin-designed home on Nantucket, featured in New England Home Magazine’s Summer 2012 Cape and Islands issue.  It is one of my greatest pleasures to ready and stage a home for a photo shoot for a wonderful shelter magazine, where the homeowners can enjoy seeing their home in print, and I can share the work I love to do. I’ve found that what inspires me to do my best work can also inspire others to do theirs.  Our surroundings matter!

 

But just as getting dressed for a wonderful night out on the town is a different experience than your appearance at the party, so a photo shoot is a different experience from the completed photo spread in the magazine.  So here’s a little peek of what goes on behind the scenes:  come along and join us as we get ready!

The team arrives early.  First we meet with photographer Michael Partenio and stylist Stacy Kunstel for a brief strategy session, planning our day, room by room, shot by shot.

Bringing a room to life for the camera is creative work, and it takes a village of collaborators! My husband, Frank Fasanella, is helping to hang this picture.

Senior Designer Price Connors arrives with a stack of pillows, then helps me finesse the table decor.  Every person makes a contribution!

Our photographer, Michael, has the final say as he examines every shot from behind the lens of the camera.

It’s been a beautiful day, but a tiring one.  Good work, everyone!  See you in the magazine.

 

 

 

A Visit to My Nantucket Fisherman’s Cottage

 

I’m delighted that my summer home on Nantucket is featured in the April issue of Traditional Home Magazine, on stands now.  My husband Frank and I fell in love with this older home in Madaket, near the most beautiful beach on the island, and began a renovation project to make this house perfect for relaxed summer living.  I consider it a blessing to live in a house that’s just big enough:  big enough to invite friends and family to join us for lazy weekends, and small enough to be manageable.  I call it my new “cottage living” phase of life.

 

I tell my clients that “a healthy home is the ultimate luxury,” and this house is both welcoming and healthy!  We carefully removed any building materials with lingering toxic off gassing, and refinished ceilings, walls, cabinetry and floors with nontoxic paints.  A state of the art ventilation system makes sure the air inside is as fresh and clean as the ocean breezes outside.  And of course, I decorated with all my favorite things, including my collection of nautical antiques.

Pick up a copy of Traditional Home  today.  I hope you enjoy your visit!

Creating Beach House Style

There’s a period of time that comes at the tail end of winter, when it isn’t quite spring, but it seems the daffodils are urging themselves forward with unseemly haste, the snowdrops are dipping their heads before the last of the north winds, and the scudding clouds in an impossibly blue sky can only signal one thing:  the return of warm weather, and time to open the beach house.

I watch the horizon for the later setting sun, and find my thoughts drawn to the elegant Grey Lady far off in the Atlantic Ocean, my home away from home:  Nantucket.  For anyone fortunate enough to own a beach house, the sand you build your castles on is real for you all year long.  It’s not just the warm weather months that restore us; it’s the anticipation of the season we long for.  In my basement there are canvas bags, ready to be filled with things for the summer house.  As the cold weeks drift into warmer, sunnier days, slowly the bags are being filled.  And my eagerness grows.

Inevitably, my mind turns to the harbor, the water, the sea.  The array of constantly changing shades of blues, greys and greens.  The piercingly clear cobalt blue sky, the sparkle of the sun and light on leaves and water, the shimmer on the white trim of weathered shingle houses, the glistening sand where the waves have receded:  all create the vision for me of a perfect “Nantucket Day.”  Home is where the heart is, and everyone who knows me says, “Trudy goes home to Connecticut, but she leaves her soul on Nantucket.”

Because my beach house is on Nantucket, it’s that island’s unique slant of light (rivaling Giverny) that I draw upon for inspiration in my design work. In decorating no two projects are alike.  They’re client-driven, personal and unique.  But there’s a reason for my love of blue and white (Chinese Export Porcelain) with touches of pink (New Dawn roses) and yellow (daffodils dancing down Milestone Road on the island.)  There’s a reason for my love of sand and sea colors:  to forget the shades of water and sky is impossible when your home is nestled somewhere near a beach.

My color palette comes from the infinite blueness of sea and sky, the velvety grays of the fog, the bleached white of seashells, the sandy beige of the beach, the soft greens of the pines and bayberry. Beach house style blends all these hues. The essence of summer near the ocean, I believe, is serenity, and a beach house should embody this.

Clean interiors, free of clutter except perhaps a stack of first edition books on life at sea, art that reflects a sense of place, and special niches for prized collections, whether Lightship baskets or whalebone scrimshaw, are key to achieving the simple life summer demands.  Window treatments should be designed to let as much light and air into the rooms as possible.  Accessories are best when they are memories of special days and nautical nights:  shells from beach walks, models of sailboats, antique sea chests, and paintings of schooners.

Whether you’re ready to open your beach house for the first time, or the fiftieth, here are some tips to help you create the perfect summer home:

  1. Blues are serene because they evoke the sea and the sky, but I wouldn’t use an intense marine blue on a wall.  I’d reserve it for accents such as pillows, china or curtains.
  1. Carry your main colors throughout the house.  Even in a rose room, I would include touches of blue to pull things together and help lead you from room to room.
  1. I love juxtaposing rich color with white:  in a white room, I might use ivory woodwork.
  1. Go with soft, muted shades in bedrooms; saturated colors in living areas.
  1. Add color with flowers.  Sunflowers or pink roses are wonderful in a blue and white room.
  1. Don’t attempt too much in one room; your eye needs a place to rest.
  1. Remember that a healthy home is the ultimate luxury.  See my post on spring cleaning for ideas on cleaning without harmful chemicals.

May summer be a delightful sojourn of rest and repose for you, wherever you find your heart and home!