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Gently green conversations with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

My Ode to New England

After touring Florida and the Carolinas a lot in the last few years, and trying to decide where to live ~ and our tax advisor letting the tax tail wag the dog, so to speak (as many of you know I was born in South Carolina and have family there) ~ we finally realized how much we love New England! It’s home.

Snow and ice welcome us home!

We love the change of seasons, and snow is a celebration of nature for us. So no one is complaining here! We’ve made our choice. We love all the changes and the beauty. One day when it was sunny with brilliantly clear, blue skies, and 63 degrees, I picked a snowdrop flower and brought it inside for my 93 year old dad. What a smile!

First snowdrops of the season!

For us, there is nothing like curling up next to the fireplace with a great book and watching the snow outside with our three little pooches. All cozy and protected.

Here I am with Frank, G.G., Tuffy, and Ellie

Our “green” home in East Norwalk was renovated by us with all non-toxic building materials and finishes ~ it took two years. The property hasn’t had a chemical or pesticide on it for over 22 years. That’s hard to replicate.

My Connecticut Home in Winter

Talk about stimulation! We’re only a one hour drive to Manhattan with all the culture, plays, some of the finest medical care in the country (we also like Cleveland Clinic), and incredible museums, not to mention the cuisine. Frank loves Arthur Avenue!

A New York City bakery!

This all feeds my soul, but we can retreat to Connecticut for peace and quiet and cleaner air.

My Connecticut Home in Summer

A winter vacation to a warm climate is always a treat, but we usually end up staying close to home with so much design work to do before getting our clients ready for their summer homes on Nantucket.

A window seat I created for a client to frame her view

Spring will be our next magical treat. The daffodils and croci are already pushing their way through the earth. God’s work. Renewal. I know it’s not for everyone, but New England is home for us. We’re grateful for all the beauty and excitement of nature–all 12 months of it.

A single crocus

Soon we’ll be back on Nantucket for the summer. Cooler temperatures and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We are only a block away from Madaket Harbor where Frank keeps his boat for fishing, clamming, and just plain being lazy.

Island evening

Plus, we have the Nantucket Whaling Museum (rated one of the top ten museums in the country), and all of the history of the island. I work on a committee for the Nantucket Historical Association and help with their fundraisers and often do design displays for them.


It’s a full life for a transplant from South Carolina. Did I ever tell you how one Fourth of July, I had to be medi-vacced off the island in a helicopter to Mass General for a gastric hemorrhage? Now that was a trip! All was fine in the end but I was there for two weeks. That’s part of the reason I don’t want to live on Nantucket full time, although we have so many wonderful friends there. Plus, I would miss Connecticut and New York City. Right now it seems as though we have the best of both worlds ~ for us, anyway.

Nantucket Harbor

Stay cool or warm, whichever you need right now. God bless you all!

My porch in Madaket on Nantucket

East Coast Home + Design Article

We love when our projects appear in magazines, where we can share the beautiful photography and background on our design choices with all of you! This month, East Coast Home + Design Magazine featured one of my favorite houses on Nantucket: the Pavilion-style home by famous architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen. Open, airy, and light-filled, our task was to revitalize the interiors with gently green principles. Editor Shelley McCormick and writer Deborah Brannon did a wonderful job. I hope you enjoy it!











Guest Post by Robert Dane, Master Glass Artist

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I asked my good friend Bob Dane to share with us some of his inspiration and experiences as an artist and master glass blower, part of my continuing series on artists and their work. He kindly agreed. Please click on the link below to enjoy the music of Mongo Santamaria and Afro Blue while you read this post:

I have been blowing glass for over forty years, starting at Massachusetts College of Art in 1973. Over the years I have studied with many of the masters of the Studio Glass Movement, including Lino Tagliapietra, Pino Signoretto, Dan Dailey, Dante Marioni, and William Morris. My work is created in my studio in Heath, Massachusetts, in the northern Berkshires of western Massachusetts. My wife, Jayne, directed a high school music program until 1996, when we opened our gallery on Centre Street on Nantucket. The Dane Gallery shows my work, and the work of some of the top artists working in glass today.

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Heath Brook Studio in the Berkshires

My artistic evolution spans years of working in the studio and learning from colleagues. The themes I have always focused on are of a continuum revolving around life and growth. There is an inherent optimism in my work, which I have tried to reinforce in the face of a seemingly constant barrage of negativity and pessimism coming at us from many sources. The beauty of Nature in its many forms continues to inspire me and inform my work. We are often too absorbed by the day to day of our own small existence to visualize and recognize the grand scheme, which is transpiring around us. My aim is to celebrate the beauty of the progression of life as it ever unfolds and reveals itself.

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Raised Cane Vases

Another source of my inspiration is music. For many years I have studied Afro-Cuban percussion. The music of the community is reflected in my sculpture. Traditional, folkloric Afro-Cuban music and Jazz share the same spirit of improvisation as glassblowing. When I’m playing in a group, I respond to what the other musicians are doing to create a whole. Something of that improvisation is found in my glass studio, where I work with three assistants. We all have to respond to each other’s movements, timing, and actions to create the finished piece. The horn form, which I have used in many of my sculptures, is a tribute to the improvisational nature of the music and a potent symbol of our culture. The titles of these sculptures are taken from different Jazz tunes.

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My production work is influenced by the Italian tradition of glassblowing, but has a distinctly American flavor. Vibrant colors and the spontaneous improvisation of these unique designs distinguish my work in a two thousand year tradition of glassblowing. My “Tutti Frutti Goblets” are all one of a kind, spontaneous expressions of life’s pleasures. As in any group, no two are like. When they are together, they enhance each other’s presence, creating a unique and beautiful experience. My goblets are very functional, and they set a beautiful table. I celebrate the communion I share with the people who drink from my glasses.

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Tutti Frutti Wine Goblets

Glass is a very common material, but at the same time it is mysterious and exciting. It is made primarily from sand mixed with other chemicals,to make the silica melt at a lower temperature (2000 degrees F), and to give the glass certain working and visual properties. In the studio, the fire, the movement, and the need to be constantly focused on the process have sustained my love affair with this amazing material. I am constantly learning new techniques as I work. With glassblowing, there is always a sense of discovery that is truly endless.

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Tutti Fruiti Water Goblets

Another reason glass appeals to me is that the tools and the processes we are using today basically haven’t changed over the last thousand or more years. We’re living in a techno-industrial society, but we’re carrying on this tradition, perpetuating the culture of handmade things. A glass blower from a thousand years ago could sit at my bench today and know exactly what to do. Glass does not deteriorate. It is fragile yet strong. The pieces that survive are a record of our culture and history, as they have been for thousands of years.

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Three Birds Candelabra

This summer will be an exciting one for glass and art on Nantucket. The Dane Gallery is proudly sponsoring a return visit by the Hot Glass Roadshow of the Corning Museum of Glass. ( All of the proceeds from “Hot Glass Nantucket 2016” will directly benefit the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club, a vital island organization dedicated to the education and development of the youths of Nantucket. So far we have raised almost $200,000 to support the programs of the Club.

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The Hot Glass Roadshow is a portable glassblowing facility dedicated to bringing the artistry and education of glassmaking to the general public. “Hot Glass Nantucket 2016” will be a great opportunity for the Nantucket Community to experience the mystery and excitement of glassblowing firsthand. The focal point of the program will be “You Design It; We make it!” Children will participate by designing and drawing a glass object. Over the course of the weekend, designs will be chosen to be created in glass by the Corning glassblowers. This will be a unique and special experience that they will never forget. In addition, we will present glassblowing demonstrations by artists represented in our gallery: Raven Skyriver, Toots Zynsky, and myself. See their work at, and my work at

Here are a couple of videos to get a sense of what we do in the hot shop:


Raven Skyriver:

Robert Dane:


Tell the Good Stories

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There’s a wonderful quote by Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”


I felt doubly blessed after reading those words, because I’m convinced that what makes me come alive is also just what the world needs. I recently had the privilege of attending two multi-day conferences–The Nantucket Project, on Nantucket Island in September, and The Design Futures Council’s  (DFC) Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design in Dallas, Texas in October.

The speakers were among the most renowned politicians, business leaders, philanthropists and artists in the world. The topics they spoke on were self-selected, and reflected their deepest beliefs and best work.  It’s easy to become discouraged when we focus on the world’s problems, but it’s also possible to focus on solutions. Pete Seeger once said: “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

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At both conferences, I was completely captivated by the number of intelligent, thoughtful, creative and dynamic thought-leaders and life-changers on this planet, and the optimistic stories they told. I was uplifted, inspired, and re-invigorated in my desire to keep spreading the word about sustainable design. I want to do everything I can to help make the earth a cleaner, healthier place to raise our children and grandchildren, and take good care of our elders, too!

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The Nantucket Project bills itself as a convener of thinkers and ideas, a think tank and an academy of learners. If you believe in being a lifelong learner, as I do, then I hope you’ll attend one of their annual island gatherings. Steve Wozniak was there, from Apple Computer, Inc., and Ben Carson, a Republican presidential candidate. Regardless of your political leanings, it’s always good to be exposed to the thoughts and ideas of people on the public stage.

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Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for ten years, spoke on the Africa Governance Initiative, designed to challenge the African continent with needed reform and reduce poverty. Neil Young introduced the concept of PonoMusic, bringing high resolution music to music lovers around the world.

After that experience, I couldn’t imagine anything that could compare to what I had just seen and heard, or that any other event could match that one for integrity. But then I headed southwest, to Dallas, and to the Design Futures Council’s Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design.


The first Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design was held on Nantucket, 14 years ago. I had long had the desire to to have an “awareness-raising” conference for architects, landscapers, designers and contractors, to provide a platform for knowledge and understanding for an environmentally-conscious built environment. My friend and colleague Jim Cramer was the first to make that conference a reality by supporting it with his following in the Design Futures Council.

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I am deeply gratified to have been a part of this movement from the very beginning. At our first gathering we established The Nantucket Principles, offering a path for a strategic approach to sustainable design. Every year for the past fourteen, design leaders from around the world have convened to share their thoughts and ideas, to challenge outdated beliefs, and to make a positive contribution to the world.

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At the Sustainable Design Summit, I was honored as a new Senior Fellow for the DFC, an unsought recognition that I treasure as a firm believer in the DFC’s mission.

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Here I am being honored as a Senior Fellow, with Scott Simpson, Managing Director, Greenway Group, and James P. Cramer, Chairman and Principal, Greenway Group, and President, Design Futures Council!

I was enthralled by the speakers there: Jason McClennan spoke on Living Buildings for a Living Future (watch his TED Talk here); Dame Ellen McArthur educated us on “The Surprising Thing I Learned Sailing Solo Around the World” (watch her TED Talk here), and we talked about the Building Blocks of a  Circular Economy.

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Those two conferences changed my life, not by altering any of my values, beliefs or passions, but rather, by reaffirming what I already knew: that there is a world filled with possibility, that the right time to give up hope is never, and that together, we can create something beautiful. Both conferences told me a story that I could believe in: that we can change the world.

As Tom Scott, co-founder of The Nantucket Project says, “If you want to be good at making outcomes, you’d better get really good at telling a story. And you better make sure that story has integrity.”

We can all do this in our own lives. Let’s find the good stories, stories with integrity, and tell them to each other, every day.

This is Impossible Concept with Graffiti on Gray Cement Street Wall.

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving. –Oliver Wendell Holmes

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.


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.


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.


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.

marine art bedroom

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.

cavalier galleries

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.


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

Come See Me On Nantucket!

I’m excited to have two wonderful events coming up on Nantucket the first week in August. If you’re on the island, I hope you’ll come by and say hello. At both, I’ll be talking about my favorite topics: green design, healthy living, and being kind to planet earth. I welcome your questions and am looking forward to celebrating summer with all my island friends!

On Wednesday, August 5th,please come to the panel discussion on Eco-Friendly Building and Design, hosted by Audrey Sterk’s Nantucket Color & Design Studio at 18 Broad Street.

I’ll be appearing along with my good friend Tom Ayars, a renovation and restoration expert with 35 years of experience, from 5 to 6 p.m. Tom will talk about how restoration and renovation can be “green,” too. If it’s a nice day, we’ll be outside on the patio.

On Friday, August 7th, I’ll be helping to celebrate the Dane Gallery’s 20th Anniversary with a Comfort Zone book signing from 6 to 8 p.m. Please join us for refreshments and great conversations at 28 Center Street. I’ll be answering your questions about healthy homes and green design, and what I mean by “eco-elegant.” (You can have a beautiful, sophisticated home, and have it be “green,” too!)

Hope to see you all there!

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!


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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!

Nantucket Film Festival

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Nantucket Island comes to vibrant life in the summer. Beginning on Wednesday, June 24th and continuing through Monday, June 29th is one of the most highly anticipated events on the island–the Nantucket Film Festival!

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In My Father’s House

It began in 1997, when brother and sister Jill and Jonathan Burkhart  joined forces with Mystelle Brabbee to create one of the premiere destination film festivals in the world. People come from near and far to enjoy our island, so rich in history, beauty and culture, and the film festival has added to the island’s long list of world-class events.


Peggy Guggenheim–Art Addict

Two very special examples from this year’s features are The End of the Tour, about literary sensation David Foster Wallace, and What Happened, Miss Simone?, about the high priestess of soul, Nina Simone. There are many more feature films, shorts, special screenings,documentaries, and a screenwriting competition and analysis for aspiring screenwriters.


The End of the Tour

Signature programs include In Their Shoes –one with Beau Willimon and Robin Wright, and another with Robert Towne; a Screenwriter’s Tribute; Late Night Storytelling; and Staged Readings.

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A special program called Morning Coffee takes place Thursday, June 25th through Sunday, June 28th. Morning Coffee offers a chance to hear captivating and inspiring working tales from filmmakers’ perspectives. Each day has a special focus. Thursday: Comedy. Friday: Documentary. Saturday: Screenwriting/Directing. Sunday: Filmmaking on Location.

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It’s a chance to see fabulous,sometimes hard-to-find films, and engage with some of the most fascinating people in the filmmaking industry. Find out more here!

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!


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.

Michael Keane

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.

Union Street Inn daytime exterior

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


So Long, Summer

Summer Is Over

Summer passes so quickly by. Join me for a last look at the season we love!

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Photo courtesy of David Fingerhut

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“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t, they should, for their feet are dusted with the spices from a million flowers.”–Ray Bradbury

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“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.” Deb Caletti

roses on trellis

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“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” Jeannette Walls

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Meditating woman silhouette against seascape.

“The cure for anything is salt water–tears, sweat or the sea.” Isak Dinesen

© kenneth brizzee

Horned Ghost Crab



“A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the seaweed, the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean.” Henry Grunwald

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“Hark now, hear the sailors cry, smell the sea and feel the sky…” Van Morrison

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So long, Summer. It’s hard to say goodbye but a new season is right around the corner, and there’s always something to look forward to. I have new things to share with you then.  I can’t wait to tell you about them!

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A Bookstore on an Island

mitchells books In the fictional bookstore in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, the author offers readers a glimpse into what it must be like to operate that endangered species, an independent, neighborhood bookstore. If you ever watched the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy, You’ve Got Mail, then you’re familiar with the feeling of rooting for the small business owner, the bookstore owner whose heart and soul is tied to the community and the authors she serves.

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Bookselling, like most industries, is a complicated business, and I’m grateful for the many booksellers, large and small, that operate across the country. I’ve always been a supporter of my neighborhood bookstores, though, and as a constant reader who buys more books than I can read in a lifetime, I encourage everyone to support them. There’s something charming about the way each small bookseller arranges the world inside his door. Instead of working from a corporate merchandising plan, the lighting, shelves, books and comfortable chairs are one of a kind.


Nantucket Book Partners, which operates both Mitchell’s Book Corner and Nantucket Bookworks, provides islanders and visitors with just that kind of experience . Both locations offer an enticing view into a wide-ranging inventory of books and boundless ideas for what to read next. As is fitting for an island bookstore, they have a wonderful selection of books about Nantucket, whaling and the island’s genealogy. And best of all, they are a true community resource, with book signings for local authors, advertised on their blog through “What’s on the BOOKS?,” a dedication to providing the best in customer service, a blog feature called “Meet a Nantucket Book Worm,” to let us look over our neighbor’s shoulder to see what she’s reading, and even offer space for a weekly Memoir Writing Group in the store.

As the faded sign on the porch of the Victorian cottage that is home to the fictional Island books says, “No man is an island; every book is a world.” A bookstore is a world, too, and we’re lucky to have two to call our own.



Battling the Autism Epidemic

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I’ve written before about my concern for for the 70 million people affected by autism worldwide, and their families. Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders–autism spectrum disorders–caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, and repetitive behaviors.

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The numbers are rising, as confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control’s new statistics: 1 in 68 children, 1 in 42 boys have autism. It is an urgent public health priority that requires increasing global awareness, services and research. World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), celebrated each year on April 2, was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on autism as a growing health crisis. Autism Speaks recognizes that day with its international Light It Up Blue campaign.

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Thousands of communities participate, with iconic landmarks, businesses and homes across the globe uniting by shining bright blue lights in honor of the millions of individuals and families around the world living with autism.

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I’m doing my small part by helping to spread the word through my blog and Facebook page, as well as providing financial support and participating in Walk Now for Autism Speaks. The Nantucket Walk will take place this year on August 16th, starting from Jetties Beach. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across America. Please visit Autism Speaks here to find a walk in your area!

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Autism Speaks is a worldwide organization co-founded by Suzanne and Bob Wright. They are tireless in approaching autism from every avenue, and transforming lives, one person at a time. A new documentary, Sounding the Alarm, has been produced. The film follows autism families as they follow tangled rules and regulations, and steadfastly fight to find and afford the right care and treatment for their loved ones throughout their lives.

Autism Walks Bob and Suzanne Wright 2010

Watch the trailer here. It’s available now on Netflix.

Five New Ideas about Old Things


As a design advisor for this year’s Nantucket Historical Association’s annual Antiques and Design Show, I’m excited to both participate with a Dujardin Design tablescape created especially for the event, and to attend to see what the world of antique dealers and designers have to offer this year. I love using antiques in my interiors, both for my clients, and in my own home. These treasured parts of history are beautiful mixed into traditional or more contemporary designs, and as I tell my clients and friends, they are the ultimate in “green!”


1) Antique furniture can be a beautiful addition to a sustainable lifestyle, as well as a link to the past. Not only do carefully selected pieces add artistry and the patina of age, they help to maintain your home’s indoor air quality. Created with less-toxic products years ago, antiques have long since completed any chemical off gassing.

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2) By restoring and repairing fine furniture, the resource-intensive cycle of endless new production is slowed, as is the fossil-fuel based packaging and delivery system.


3) Beautiful and sturdy, wood pieces made before the 21st century were constructed with timber with tighter growth rings, which simply doesn’t exist today, enhancing its value as a treasured collectible.

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4) Antiques are recycling at its best. Beloved family pieces, delicate porcelain, fine china and the softly faded colors of aged Oriental rugs do not belong in a landfill. Treasures from another time can be loved and used again. An item that has been passed from home to home and hand to hand brings history to life, and honors the work of artisans who lived long ago.

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5) Antique collections are a very personal expression. I often find that a simple gesture, such as placing an antique tea caddy on a mantel, can inspire my clients to begin a collection of their own. Learning about the subtle differences between artisans, the period of time when an item was made, or the materials that were used to make it, gives us a greater appreciation for life. Whatever you collect, it is unique to you and your home, and cannot be duplicated.

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I encourage you to spend a summer weekend looking for old and rare treasures of your own. Being “green” has never been so much fun!



Three Lighthouses

© kenneth brizzee

There is magic and mystery in lighthouses, beacons of safety for hundreds of years for sailors and ships at sea. There is only one manned lighthouse left in the United States today, the very first lighthouse ever built on U.S. soil: Boston Light on Little Brewster Island, established in 1716. We are fortunate to have 680 lighthouses remaining in the U.S. today, though, three of which are located on Nantucket: Brant Point Light, Great Point Light, and Sankaty Head Light.

Boston Light

Boston Light on Little Brewster Island

The very first “lighthouses” were simply bonfires built on hills to guide ships away from dangerous coastlines, with the first known structure appearing in the old city of Alexandria in 285 B.C.E. Julius Caesar described the light, also known as the “Pharos,” as a key part of his strategic advantage in subduing Ptolemy’s armies. The Pharos was one of the tallest manmade structures on earth for centuries, and was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It became an abandoned ruin after being damaged by three earthquakes between 956 and 1323. In 1480, the last of its remnant stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on the site.


Mosaic of the Alexandria Lighthouse. Photo in public domain.

Nantucket’s lighthouses have a long and storied history as well. The most photographed and recognizable Nantucket light is Brant Point Light, seen by every visitor to the island as the ferry rounds Brant Point on its way to the island. The original Brant Point Light was a simple wooden building established in 1746. After it burned to the ground in 1757, it was replaced with a new wooden structure in 1758. That one fell to  “a violent Gust of Wind” and began a succession of lighthouses which either burned or were destroyed by storms.

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Brant Point Light: Photo by David Fingerhut

The existing Brant Point Light was erected in 1901 as a 26 foot wooden tower, the shortest lighthouse in New England. The Coast Guard took over the property in 1939, when the last lighthouse keeper left.

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Brant Point Light: Photo by David Fingerhut

A second lighthouse was added on Nantucket in 1785: Great Point Light. Sadly, the original wooden tower was destroyed by fire in 1816. Rebuilt in 1818, erosion claimed the second lighthouse in 1984, due to a brutal storm with gale force winds.

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Great Point Light: Photo by David Fingerhut

On September 6, 1986, a replica was lit, three hundreds yards west of the previous tower.  You must have a four wheel drive vehicle and a permit to visit the light, seven miles from Wauwinet. It is part of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge.

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Great Point Light: Photo by David Fingerhut

The last lighthouse built on Nantucket is Sankaty Head Light.  As the first U.S. lighthouse to receive a “Fresnel lens,” it was the most powerful light in New England when it was built in 1849. Local fishermen referred to it as “the blazing star,” and it was visible from 20 miles away. The Fresnel lens was replaced by aerobeacons in 1950, but the original lens is on display at the Nantucket Whaling Museum.

Erosion came close to claiming the Sankaty Head Light in 2006, when the tower stood only 79 feet from the edge of a cliff which was losing a foot a year to the sea. The tower was moved 400 feet to a new location, where it safely stands today.

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Sankaty Head Light: Photo by David Fingerhut

About the photographer: David Fingerhut specializes in nature photography. His photographs have been shown in 16 countries at exhibits sponsored by the Photographic Society of America. He has been designated a star exhibitor in both Nature and Color Slide Photography. His photographs are for sale as prints, or as high resolution images for publication. Contact him at 

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Photo by David Fingerhut

Bring the Look Home with Coastal Living!

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Used with permission by Coastal Living Magazine; Photo by Ozerov Alexander

We’re in the Summer Issue of Coastal Living Magazine!


According to the July/August 2014 issue of Coastal Living Magazine, the Union Street Inn on Nantucket is one of the most friendly and refined of all the B&B’s on the island. I would wholeheartedly agree, as Dujardin Design had the privilege of working with innkeepers Ken and Deborah Withrow to create an updated and elegant look that is still quintessential Nantucket. Our five-phase design of the inn began more than 12 years ago, and was completed by redoing every room and common area in time for guests arriving in Spring 2013.


As Coastal Living says: “Housed in a 1770s whaling captain’s home minutes from Nantucket’s humming wharves, this intimate inn embraces a crisp, modern look created by Dujardin Design Associates–there are no doilies here.”

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“Its gently sloping hallways and narrow doorways lead to 12 guest rooms dressed in broad-striped wallpapers and richly patterned fabrics in a quartet of colors–pale yellow, nautical blue, sea glass green, and deep crimson. The shell white Frette linens and Matouk duvets on the beds make the rooms at Union Street feel like especially comfy havens.”

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“Guests linger over the library nook’s seafaring titles.”

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“In the sunny common rooms, oak pedestal breakfast tables are set for cooked-to-order breakfasts…”


“…while a sleek settee and chairs are clustered around an antique chest in a corner made for coffee and easy conversation.”

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You won’t regret a stay in an inn named “one of the ten most romantic hotels in the U.S.” by Fodor’s. In the meantime, check out the The Summer Issue of Coastal Living!

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All Union Street Inn Photography by Jeffrey Allen

Sand, Salt, and Shingle Style Architecture

Cape Cod House

There’s nothing that says Nantucket so much as its weathered grey houses with white trim. Although Nantucket is famous for shingle style houses, the architectural style is a tradition on beach front properties across the east coast, including Long Island, Cape Cod, coastal Maine and Newport, Rhode Island. They first appeared in New England after the 1876 Centennial celebration, when America was fondly looking back on rustic Colonial style buildings, and architects were happy to a rebel against Victorian fussiness.

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One of the primary characteristics of a shingle style home is the gentle way it blends into the landscape. Key features are its soft grey surface, plain siding, very little ornamentation, a welcoming porch, and a rambling outline. Victorian shingles were made of thinly cut, unpainted cedar that quickly became a weathered grey from exposure to the oceanfront elements.

New England House

Their apparent simplicity belied the fact that most were vacation homes for the very wealthy. Well-known architects such as Henry Hobson Richardson, Charles McKim, Stanford White and Frank Lloyd Wright were drawn to the form, and began creating their own versions of shingle style homes. Perhaps the most famous shingle style home is the summer residence of George W. Bush, built in 1903 on Walker’s Point near Kennebunkport Maine.


Bush Summer Residence; Photo Courtesy of

On Nantucket, a large population of Quakers greatly influenced the social mores and architectural styles on the island. Their insistence on simplicity and minimal decoration  made the shingle style house enormously popular during the 19th century, and the island’s large stock of historic homes has set the standard for any new homes built since.

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Today, the Nantucket Historic District Commission oversees homeowners’ building and renovation plans with strict regulations that dictate a home’s height, use of shingles, and a pitched roof to protect the island’s historic character.  Homes are often surrounded by charmingly old fashioned gardens, overflowing with hollyhocks, peonies, foxgloves, and larkspur, and bordered by trellises covered in tumbling pink roses that give the island its signature grace and charm.

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Shifting Sands

© kenneth brizzee

The sea level is rising. That’s an indisputable fact, along with the increasingly dramatic storm forces that are part of climate change. The next century will certainly bring more significant erosion to coastal areas, particularly in New England.

Scientists have a wealth of information about the ocean and the tides, primarily because sailors and fishermen have kept weather logs and sailing records for more than two hundred years. We know for a fact that the average sea level has risen a little over 8 inches since 1880. That doesn’t sound like a lot, perhaps, but it contributes greatly to beach erosion during calm weather, and damaging higher tidal surges during storms.

It’s the emission of large amounts of greenhouse gases that’s driving the change. The difficulty for coastal towns on the East Coast is that even while sea levels are rising, the land mass is actually sinking. All the way from southern Maine to northern Florida, and fastest in the Chesapeake Bay region, coastal flooding is getting worse, in part because of the lower land levels.

The New York Times published an excellent article, The Flood Next Time, identifying average sea level increases along the East Coast. In Norfolk, Virginia, as an example, neighborhoods are flooding even without storm surges. You can read the Times article here.

When I attended Greenbuild in Philadelphia in November 2013, architect and environmental expert Ed Mazria said that 2013 was the hottest year on record. His organization, 2030 Architecture, was established in 2002 in response to climate change, with a mission of changing the way the built environment and communities are planned, designed and constructed. Environmentalists first thought they could turn things around by 2030, but now they know that climate change is accelerating at a faster pace than thought. Read his thought-provoking Special Bulletin here. 

Top climate scientist James Hansen, retired from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City (1981-2013) and a spokesperson for the dangers of climate change, continues to warn us about the dangers of ignoring what’s taking place. You can watch his informative and persuasive TED talk here. He tells us we’ve passed the tipping pout of CO2 levels able 400ppm, but we must carry on and do the best we can.

The question is: what is our best? Attempts to mitigate the beach erosion and save homes on Nantucket aren’t always successful, or popular. In an article written for, Sarah Oktay, the vice-chairman of the Nantucket Conservation Commission, explains the problem with “beach nourishment,” which is the dumping of tons of sand on eroded beaches to slow their disappearance, as well as putting up retaining walls.

The attempts to slow erosion, she says, cause harm to someone else. “If you take beach bluffs or dunes and you cover them in rocks so it can’t go anywhere, then it no longer provides that feeder material to downdrift beaches, so you’ll lose the beach in front of those rocks, and you’ll lose the beach downdrifts. It’s basically telling your neighbors, ‘Well, I want my home more than you want your beach.’ That doesn’t mean it’s not sad.”

This photograph of the beach in Madaket on Nantucket Island shows the way the rising tides come in, and when they recede, drag sand back out to sea. There used to be a home on the site shown below.

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A clear view of beach erosion. Baxter Road on Sconset Bluff has been hardest hit.

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There are a number of homes that have been moved to higher ground, or farther inland, including some that have been island landmarks for generations.

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The home below is jacked up on steel beams.

Nantucket erosion house jacked up on steel

Here’s another home getting ready to be moved farther inland.

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We’re facing the limits of human intervention in combating a situation we created. We’ve lost time arguing over whether or not global warming and climate change are real concerns. Rather than feeling helpless, however, we need to take what action we can to support a healthy earth, and protect our coasts. There are so many good people doing good work for the environment. I urge you to support the environmental groups of your choice. I believe in The Power of One. You and I together can make a difference for the generations yet to be born.


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.


Horned Ghost Crab

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Conch shell on beach

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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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Life on Nantucket with Author Nancy Thayer: Second in a Series

  A Guest Post by Bestselling Author and Nantucket Resident Nancy Thayer

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 On Island Girls and Houses

In my novel Island Girls,  a young woman named Meg returns to her father’s Nantucket house for the first time in years.  When she arrives, she sees:

“White clapboard, three stories high, with a blue front door sporting a mermaid door knocker…On either side of the front door, blue hydrangeas blossomed, and pink impatiens spilled from the white window boxes.  It was a storybook house.  A house with many stories.”


 Houses hold the stories of our most private lives, and the hues, textures, and furniture reflect our dreams, hopes and memories.  As a writer who has lived year-round for almost thirty years on Nantucket, I find that many of my novels begin with a house.

Street Side Garden

Meg, now a college professor, is eager to return to her bedroom in the historic old house.

“Like all old Nantucket houses, this one rambled oddly around, with rooms that had fireplaces or closets built in at odd angles.  But the path to the bedroom, her bedroom, was embroidered into her memory like silk thread on muslin.”

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We are all shaped by our past, and so are older houses, which we shape, and which, if we allow them, shape us.  One thing I admire so very much about Trudy Dujardin’s interior design is her sensitivity to the past, to the life of each particular house, and her ability to match that to the desires of each particular owner.  It seems to me that something spiritual seeps into the wood and walls of a house, enriching it, just as scotch aged in oak barrels is enriched.

The house my husband and I live in was built in 1840.  It’s a tall, narrow house, with beautiful wide-board floors and peculiar additions, often called “warts” on Nantucket.  When we first lived here, our children were nine and eleven, and we used the attic for a playroom and for my son’s private lair as he grew older.  But I always coveted the attic because of its view of the harbor and two lighthouses, and when our children were in their twenties, we had a half moon window put in, refinished the walls and floor, and now I have a true room of my own to write in.

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I write on a computer set on a practical new desk from Staples, but I also have an antique walnut desk with brass pulls in my study, and a wicker bookshelf that holds correspondence, calendars, notebooks, etc.  I love having old furniture around me.  So much that I see, hear, and touch inspires me with material for my books.

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In Island Girls, “Meg cherished the room because of the slightly warped, ink-stained wooden desk and creaking cane-bottom chair placed against the back window, where she could sit and write or contemplate the starry sky and dream.”

Of course, houses must change, just as people do.  The driving plot of Island Girls is the father, who has left the Nantucket house to all three daughters–who have different mothers.  (Their father was a charmer, to say the least.)  The three girls have become estranged, but their father’s will requires them to live together for the summer in the Nantucket house.

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Their first argument begins with two of the sisters both wanted the same back bedroom, “with morning glory wallpaper and…a spool bed, covered with soft old cotton sheets and a patchwork quilt in shades of rose, lemon and azure, echoing the colors in the hand-hooked rug covering most of the satiny old pine floor.”


Some extremely modern events take place in this old house.  Houses are for the living, after all, and just as we respond to them, they settle around us however we are, so a room once full of settees and music boxes becomes a media room with comfy sofas and a flat screen TV.  Houses shelter us against the literal and figurative storms of life, they keep us safe, and they wait for us to come home.

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I didn’t know until I was writing the last chapter of this novel exactly how it would end, which sister would get the house, if the ending would be happy or sad…and as in all my novel,s my characters surprised me.  I think it will surprise the readers, too, and I hope it makes them smile.

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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.


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.

whale art dane gallery raven skyriver

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.


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.


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.

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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.

pillows blue willow

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.

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.

eagle and whale

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.

living room

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.

stormy ocean

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


Decorating with Antiques: a Deeper Shade of Green

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The Nantucket Historical Association hosts its annual Antiques & Design Show from August 1 to August 5 this year.  Dujardin Design Associates, Inc. will present a Designer’s Room Vignette with beautiful examples of treasured antiques and a display that shows them artfully placed in a room.  If you’re on Nantucket, come visit us at Bartlett’s Farm, 33 Bartlett Farm Road.  Here are all the details.   

In celebration of the timeless beauty of long-cherished objects and our desire to live lightly on the earth, it’s time we think about antiques in a new way.  Antiques are a part of a sustainable lifestyle, as well as a link to the past.  Let’s take a look at how these enduring parts of history can elevate both your life and your home’s design!

I have always been an ardent collector of antiques, and the addition of carefully selected pieces to sophisticated interiors is a recognizable signature of my design style.  Sharing my love for classic pieces comes naturally to me.  I find that my clients quickly embrace the elegance of antique furniture, and often become collectors themselves.  Homes are brought to life when old paintings, pieces of porcelain, or folk art add their charming artistry.

As we learn more about how to assess the health of our built environments, and steps we can take to keep our homes clean and pristine, it’s important to recognize the ways that antiques can be an integral part of a green lifestyle.

Photo Seven Library

 This is a fabulous collection of treenware, dating from the 19th to the 20th Century.  Note the darning egg, and the antique stereoscope–the earliest form of television!  The book displayed is by British treenware expert Burt Marsh. Photo:  Durstan Saylor

No Chemical Vapors Are Brought into your Home

Your home’s interior should be a place of fresh air and health.  Yet any new piece of furniture, cabinetry, flooring or finished wood has some chemical overtones.  Many fine finishes release vapors in a process called off-gassing.  In a closed environment, such as an energy efficient, airtight home, off-gassing can increase indoor air pollution to levels several times higher than those detected outside.  Antiques are a healthier choice than modern furnishings because they were created with less toxic products years ago, and any off-gassing has long been complete.

antique ships model

This living room is a showcase for beautiful antique accessories, including a 19th Century ship’s model behind the sofa, and a pair of lamps made from 18th Century Chinese Export porcelain.  A pair of 19th Century British hand carved candlesticks and a 19th Century ship’s captain’s lap desk are on the cocktail table.  Photo:  Durstan Saylor

No New Resources Are Used

Every beautiful piece of wooden furniture originated from a tree.  Whenever we purchase new wood furniture, unless we choose products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), we are contributing to the deforestation of our planet.  In contrast, wooden antiques are products of trees culled long ago from old-growth forests. Old pieces add a soothing mix of periods to a room, and since no new resources were used in their construction, their restoration and re-use is a green endeavor. 


 This study reflects the long seafaring history of the coast, with a 19th Century ship’s telescope, and a 19th Century ship’s barometer hanging to the right of the window.  Framed antique prints are on the wall, and the mantle holds part of a collection of sea captain doorstops.  

No Negative Environmental Impact is Created

Beyond the health issues in our homes, we should consider the costs to our planet.  Even the very greenest furniture manufacturers distribute impurities into our air, waste systems and water.  New furniture requires the production of finishes, dyes and sealants.  Shipping them demands the creation of packing materials, and they arrive in retail stores via large vehicles powered by fossil fuel.  The EPA estimates that three million tons of furniture are taken to landfills every year, only to be replaced with brand new pieces that can carry a large environmental cost.


An extremely rare 19th Century English scrimshaw tortoiseshell is displayed above the fireplace; on the mantle are several antique lighting devices:  a corkscrew pigtail candlestick complete with hook for hanging over a chair, a rush light holder and antique binoculars. Photo: Terry Pommett

Antiques Are Recycled Treasures

Beloved family pieces, original wooden floorboards and the softly faded colors of aged Oriental rugs do not belong in a landfill.  Treasures from another time can be loved and used again.  A federal mirror that has been passed from home to home and hand to hand brings history to life, and honors the work of long-ago artisans.

Dujardin Madaket british woolie

This is a mint condition 18th Century British Woolie, The Ship of Bengal, unusual for the ship’s identification as part of the design, and for its display of the British flag. Photo: Terry Pommett

Antiques Respect the Work of Long-ago Craftsmen 

Rather than purchasing a mass-produced item, treat yourself to something created in a small workshop by a craftsman who made good use of few resources.  In previous centuries, home furnishings were made by hand before machine-assembled items flooded the marketplace.  Artisans from years gone by had knowledge that largely disappeared during the Industrial Revolution.  Old joining techniques were abandoned in favor of more rapid assembly using staples and nails.  Fiber board was created and the beauty of the wood itself was lost.  Take the time to consider the difference between a finely hand-wrought piece and one processed in a factory.  Even contemporary rooms can be striking when modern pieces are blended with well-placed antiques. 

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This Ionic columned fireplace, in the Captain Parker house on Nantucket which I painstakingly restored, still retains its Sandwich glass clothesline knobs; string was wound between them so clothes could be hung to dry. Not all antiques are furniture.

Antiques Have Stood the Test of Time

Classic pieces are sturdy and well-made, which is why they have lasted.  The quality of their wood is usually stronger, created from timber with tighter growth rings, making repair a simple task when necessary.  Furniture that is unworthy of a craftsman’s repair time adds to our cycle of wasteful consumption.  Instead, your rooms can be accented with vintage furniture that has been lavished with love and care, and that honors history and tradition. 

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An old set of nesting baskets, handmade by 19th Century basket weavers. Photo: Erik Rank

Antique Collections Are a Personal Expression

I often find that a simple gesture, such as placing an antique tea caddy on a mantel, can inspire my clients to begin collections. There is tremendous beauty in items preserved throughout the years, particularly if they illuminate another time and way of life.  Learning about the subtle differences among artisans, the period when an item was created, or the materials that were used to make it, gives us a greater appreciation for life.  

My personal collections include treenware (handcarved wooden items used in the home long ago), old hotel silver, blue and white porcelain, and things that speak to me of lives lived on the ocean, including whaling artifacts, scrimshaw carvings and sailor whirligigs.

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The foyer of the lovingly restored Captain Parker House on Nantucket, circa 1700’s.

Not All Antiques Are Furniture

You can find antique cabinetry, flooring, doors, beams, posts, mantels and other architectural pieces.  Consider a gorgeous 18th Century door to add punch and personality to your entry, or how about antique doorknobs and a doorknocker?  An old mantel delivers instant charm; remilled old timbers bring panache to the pantry.  Add the incredible details that your home may be missing.


This Victorian milk glass doorknob was added to an old door to restore it to its 19th Century charm.

Antiques Add Beauty and Joy to Life

There is a thrill when you spot the perfect 19th Century French farm table, Georgian stand or double pedestal dining table.  You feel an immediate connection to the Italian walnut commode or a beautiful pair of small paintings.  Antique collectors know that old things have a soul, based on their authenticity.  Whether you fall in love with hand-embroidered vintage textiles or white ironstone pitchers, each well-chosen piece adds to the unique style that is yours alone.  

eye catching blend

Photo:  Durstan Saylor

Blending newly designed furnishings with antique collectibles is a wonderful way to express yourself.  Concrete work surfaces and stainless steel works beautifully when paired with your antique dining table and old wooden doors.  Don’t be afraid to mix periods and textures.  Contrast can be the spice of life, and add spice to your home as well!

A New Look for Nantucket’s Union Street Inn


We’ve just completed the redesign of one of our favorite places on the island:  Ken and Deborah Withrow’s Union Street Inn.  We first had the privilege of designing the inn nearly 13 years ago, so when Ken and Deborah called us to refresh and update the elegant 1770’s former whaling captain’s home, we were delighted to return.  The June 2013 issue of Nantucket Today tells the story of the new inn, and Jeffrey Allen’s photos capture the beauty of the cozy 12 guestrooms, the common areas and the inviting new garden.

cake plate on desk

The hotel is renowned for its full gourmet breakfasts with a home-cooked entree every morning, along with a smoked salmon bagel option with cream cheese, tomatoes, chives and dill, or a fresh fruit plate and artisan breads.  In the afternoon, guests enjoy home-baked treats, such as white chocolate chip cookies with macadamia nuts, carrot cake or double chocolate brownies.

yellow striped bedroom 2

We’ve renovated each of the 12 guestrooms to showcase beautiful period details.  The elegant rooms offer luxurious bedding, stunning designer furniture and fabrics, flat screen tv’s and complimentary wi-fi.  The inn has won multiple awards, including “One of the 10 Most Romantic Hotels in the U.S.” by Fodor’s.

bamboo bedroom 2

Owners Ken and Deborah have extensive backgrounds in both hotel and retail management, and have used their experience to create a sumptuous boutique-style inn that has guests returning over and over again.  The staff carefully tailors the concierge service to each individual’s interests, sharing their love and knowledge of the island and helping guests enjoy the “insider’s” Nantucket.

navy sitting room

Conde Nast Traveler described the inn as “impeccable New England by way of France.”

blue settee

We used crisp blues, whites and yellows throughout the inn, with fresh, tailored fabrics, wallpapers and accents.  The foyer, living room, dining room and kitchen were completely updated with the kind of sophisticated touches you’d expect from a boutique hotel, while never forgetting its origins as a sea captain’s home.

reading nook

The new library features a cozy reading nook.  It’s fully stocked with hardback titles ranging from contemporary fiction to design and Nantucket classics.


Just off Main Street’s cobblestones and the harbor, Ken and Deborah have made The Union Street Inn one of life’s unforgettable experiences.  I hope you’ll come to Nantucket and visit them.  Be sure to tell them I sent you!

A Nantucket Beach Nest

beach nest

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.


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.

entry hall vertical

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.

master bedroom

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!

close up navy border

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

bedroom vertical

And this blue beauty!

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

kitchen vertical

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.

dining room

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

patio 2


In the Days of Sailors and Scrimshaw


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.


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.

sea turtles

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.

rhino  photo world resouces

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.

anna merz and black rhino

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.

A Splash of Yellow: Daffodils on Nantucket

daffodil festival

From early April to mid-May, Nantucket bursts into bloom with millions of daffodils across the island  To celebrate, the island throws itself a party:  its annual Daffodil Festival!

daffodil festival 3

This year, the festival takes place from April 26 to 28.  More than just a weekend of flowers, islanders enjoy an antique car parade and tailgate picnic, art shows, a Daffy Hat contest, contests and lectures.  It’s a beautiful time to be on the island:  my husband, Frank, and I never miss it!

_daffodil festival 2

The splashes of yellow from coast to coast are pure inspiration after a long colorless winter.  Think about the ways you might use yellow to enliven your home and lift your springtime spirits.  Of course, bringing bouquets of fresh flowers inside is a pretty touch in any room.

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Touches of yellow are also playful and bright when used in fabrics and upholstered furniture.  A small dash of yellow can go a long way.  In the photo below, yellow is used in the plaid upholstery fabric and in the trim on the ottoman.

touch of yellow

This month, celebrate the yellow in your life, wherever you find it!

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Basket Case

There is a special kind of beauty in handmade items, particularly those that have stood the test of time.  I have long been a collector of things old and venerable, and love the part I play in keeping and protecting them.  Perhaps it is the rushed nature of time in our lives today that draws so many of us to collectibles such as baskets,  created by people with physically harder days but longer empty hours.


The baskets I love are Nantucket Lightship baskets, crafted by the calloused hands of sailors, sea-toughened men whiling away wet and salt-sprayed hours on a ship that rolled and dipped with the pitch of the ocean beneath it.  The baskets that survive are precious now, perhaps all the more so because once they were not.

When they were new, they held bread and sewing and berries gathered from the hedge beside the cottage.  They were made by men who worked hard with their hands, and used by people who did the same.


cottage photo courtesy of Nantucket Preservation Trust

Today, Lightship Baskets are a collectible treasure so valued on Nantucket Island that they have a museum dedicated to them. Located at 49 Union Street, the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum is dedicated to the island’s rich history of basket making, as well as a nod to the history of the Lightships.

In the 19th Century, Lightships were sentinels stationed at dangerous off-shore shoals, warning others in the waters of treacherous shipwreck sites.  The first lightship was stationed at Nantucket’s South Shoal on June 15th, 1854.

Whale oil supplied the warning lamps in early years, seen at most at a distance of a few miles on a clear night, far less when the weather turned grey and stormy. Nantucket Lightship crewmen were basket makers for diversion from boredom, as well as a way to earn extra income.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

It was after 1900 that work on the the baskets moved off ships and onto the island.  In the late 1940s, Jose Formoso Reyes, one of the foremost basket makers of his time, created the “Friendship Basket,” a cane woven basket with a lid and a carved ivory whale mounted on top.  It is the model for the popular handbags sold today.

very early basket by Jose Reyes

In my many years as a Nantucket Islander, I have frequently found myself unable to resist these treasured baskets.  My collection was written about in a blog post that you can read at Connecticut Cottages & Gardens.

My Madaket living room; Lightship basket on table.  Photo courtesy of Terry Pommett

My kitchen in Connecticut, Lightship basket on island; photo courtesy of Durstan Saylor

Perhaps this post will inspire you to start a basket collection of your own, or to find the space to display with grace and reverence the ones you already own.  We are so blessed to live in a world where such treasures can be found.


Lightship basket collection displayed on built in shelves; photo courtesy of Terry Pommett

The Union Street Inn

If you wander down the cobblestone streets of “faraway island” (as named by the Native Americans), you’ll soon find yourself at the door of Nantucket’s Union Street Inn.   Ken and Deborah Withrow are the experienced hoteliers who own this intimate boutique hotel, and make it the warm and welcoming place that it is.  It was my pleasure to design its public spaces and private rooms several years ago.  The circa 1770 Inn’s many fireplaces and historic town views provide the perfect setting for beautiful antiques and luxuriously duvet-covered beds, authentic period details and fine marine art, all signatures of Dujardin style. Come along with me and and experience the distinctive charm that makes the Union Street Inn one of my favorite places in the world.

What do guests dream about after a stay with Ken and Deborah?  Deborah’s homemade gourmet breakfasts top the list.  French toast, blueberry buttermilk pancakes, poached eggs and sausage greet you in the morning, and home-baked white chocolate chip cookies or double chocolate brownies tempt you in the afternoon.

The Union Street Inn is the only B&B on the island to serve a full breakfast. There’s a home cooked entree every morning.  Deborah is a fabulous chef!

Best place for breakfast and a cup of coffee on a warm summer morning?  The patio.

There are twelve guest rooms, all beautifully outfitted for your comfort.  The couple describes the Inn’s elegant feeling as “New England by way of France.”

Guests who return every year call it romantic.

The authentic period ambiance makes you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, but each of the guest rooms offers flat screen tv, complimentary wi-fi, private baths and air conditioning on warm summer days.  It’s the best of old and new.

After a day of sand, sun and surf, each elegant room promises a quiet night’s rest, so you’re ready for the next day’s island adventure.

Ken and Deborah utilize their shared backgrounds in hotel management to create an exquisite experience for their guests.  The Inn’s town location means it is only steps away from world-class restaurants, museums and shops. The town’s grey-shingled buildings were built to withstand seaside weather; they create a unique island look you won’t see anywhere else.

The Union Street Inn is the recipient of “Best Of” awards from Boston magazine (2006) and Cape Cod Life (2006-2010), as well as a “Fodor’s Choice Award” from Fodor’s Travel (2008-2010).  The rare beauty of “faraway island,” complete with skippers piloting their boats past lighthouses and rows of ship captain’s houses lining the streets a stone’s throw from wharf and waterfront makes a trip to Nantucket a memorable one.  A stay at the Union Street Inn makes it unforgettable. Visit the inn at

The Sea-Worthy Artwork of Michael Keane

Update to this post: Michael F. Keane, Jr. died unexpectedly on March 28, 2015. The following tribute comes from Quidley & Company Fine Art, a gallery that had been home to the artist and his artwork for many years.

“For the past three decades, Michael brought joy to those who viewed his artwork. His serene and luminous marine paintings portrayed the warmth of summer days spent sailing on Nantucket Sound. Keane had the remarkable ability to transport a viewer: to gaze at one of Michael’s beautiful and obviously lovingly wrought images is to imagine yourself cruising on the open sea–whether on a striped sail Beetle Cat or a majestic J-Class yacht–it’s the next best thing to actually being out there.” 

I hope you enjoy a look at some of Michael’s lovely, peaceful work. His contribution to the art world will never be forgotten. 

Rainbow Run

Part One in an Occasional Series on My Favorite Artists

I love the play of light on sand and sea on Nantucket Island.  It inspires artists here just as the light in the South of France has inspired so many of my favorite artists for centuries; the sunlight shimmers and sparkles in a way that is magical to observe, and I am in awe of those talented painters who can capture it on canvas.

Off Boston Harbor

One of those painters is famed marine artist Michael Keane.  A dear friend for years, and a fine arts painter for over half a century, Michael’s work is eagerly sought after by collectors.  His shows are an established tradition here on Nantucket, where people who love to sail and love the sea appreciate the special affinity he has for painting the world of waves and wind.

The Mighty Twelves

Truly a Renaissance man with so many interests and skills I can’t keep track of them all, Michael’s career as a painter was never pre-ordained.  When it was time for college, although he had painted since childhood, his father insisted he attend a teacher’s college instead of art school, hoping to see his son gainfully employed.  But Michael hated it, and he worked instead at a number of mundane and laborious jobs, including time spent in factories, as an auto mechanic and at a shipyard.

Determined to be an artist, though, he served an eight year apprenticeship with noted landscape painter, Edward Harrigan, and a four year apprenticeship with noted marine artist Marshall W. Joyce.  After that, he studied for four years, and then taught portraiture and figure painting with Clemente Micarelli in his studio.  He majored in Visual Design at UMass and afterward taught painting for 17 years.

Blue Horizon

His break into the art world came with a Best in Show award at a Duxbury, Massachusetts art show.  The painting entered there began a new life for Michael, at a time when he desperately needed it.  In poor health from a rheumatic illness, he was unable to summon the strength to continue his physically demanding day job.

He went to his favorite place on Duxbury Beach, and as he describes it, “Everything was going all wrong.  As I stood there, the sky turned black, and it started to hail and rain.  As I looked across the sea, all of a sudden the light broke through.  It raced across the land in a splash of color.  I knew this was a transcendent moment; I felt I was being told to ‘paint this.’”

The Squall at Gurnet Head

He did quick color notes, which became the inspiration for his painting The Squall at Gurnet Head.  After that, things turned sharply around. Everything he painted flew off the wall.  “It was providential,” he says.  “It all happened when things couldn’t get any lower; it felt like a dream.  Things happened the way they needed to happen, when they needed to happen.”

A Twilight Sail

In explaining his creative process, Michael says he loses all sense of time and space when he works.  “I once did a big painting in less than a week—I felt like I didn’t paint it.  I held the brush, and the brush just went.  As an artist, I’m wide open to what I’m receiving.  It’s a sensitive thing.”

Off Nantucket

People have always been drawn to his work, and although he doesn’t understand all the reasons, he thinks it may be related to the reason that he paints.  “Art should elevate life,” he says.  “That’s the whole point of it.  Fine art should express higher ideals.  We get enough in life to pull us down, art should lift us up.

“Like good music, art lifts you, it changes you, it alters your state of consciousness,” he continues.  “That’s what exhilaration is.”

The Last Trap

Everyone who knows Michael, who loves his work, and who buys his paintings, tells him the same thing.  “They tell me they look at the sky now—they say, ‘you made me look at the sky.’”

I can’t imagine a higher elevation for art, or an artist, than that.

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky.” –Victor Hugo

You can find Michael Keane’s artwork at Quidley and Co. Galleries in Boston and Nantucket, Massachusetts, and at Russell Jinishian Galleries in Fairfield, Connecticut.











Living an Artful Life

Twelve Meter Cup Contenders by Michael Keane

Art has always been important to me.  I began my studies in Fine Art, graduated from college with a degree in Art Education, and first embarked on a career as an art teacher.  The homes I design must include space for beautiful and significant pieces of artwork, integral to creating an elegant and welcoming interior.

There is nothing like wandering through a gallery to develop an eye for what you love, and really, that’s what collecting art is all about. I have several galleries I turn to again and again for their solid judgement and ability to curate a collection of breathtaking work with emotional resonance.Two of my favorites are Quidley and Co., and Cavalier Galleries.

Quidley and Co has two locations:  one in Boston, and one in Nantucket at 26 Main Street.  Known for their ability to cater to their clients’ unique tastes, they offer a selection of master artists’ work from the United States and Europe and pride themselves on assisting their customers in acquiring and maintaining a fine collection.

Marine artist Michael Keane’s work is represented by Quidley and Co.  Here are two of his paintings currently offered at the gallery, in addition to the work at the top of this post.

Miacomet by Michael Keane

Great Point Lighthouse by Michael Keane

Forrest Rodts is another artist whose work I admire, available through  Quidley and Co.  His seascapes and illustrations capture the sunsets, seascapes and skies of New England.

Window Shell by Forrest Rodts

Peek-A-Boo by Forrest Rodts

Doug Brega is a contemporary artist who paints in the style of American realism.  His New England portraits and landscapes have a wondrous visual and emotional impact.  Here are a few from his collection at Quidley and Co.:

House in Thomaston by Doug Brega

Monhegan Painters by Doug Brega

Amy on Nantucket by Doug Brega

Another favorite artist there is Sergio Roffo, whose work Madaket Mist appears at the top of this post.  Roffo’s coastal landscapes have a luminous feeling that have earned him numerous awards.

Sunset on the Dunes by Sergio Roffo

Path to Great Point by Sergio Roffo

Another favorite gallery is Cavalier Galleries, with locations in Greenwich, Connecticut and on Nantucket, at 35 Main Street.  Cavalier offers fine painting, sculpture and photography, and a stable of artists whose works range from traditional and representational to modern and contemporary.

Wolf Kahn is a favorite artist found at Cavalier. One of the most important colorists working in America today, the German-born Kahn demonstrates a unique blend of Realism and the formal discipline of Color Field painting.

Mostly Magenta and Gray by Wolf Kahn

Vineyard Pond by Wolf Kahn

Whether you visit Quidley and Co., Cavalier or another gallery in your hometown, there’s no substitute for the serenity, beauty and inspiration you’ll find just inside their doors. I hope you’ll be moved to purchase artwork you love, and join the collectors who support the work of fine artists.  Life, and home, would be a poorer place without them.


“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).

The Most Powerful Weapon on Earth to Fight Climate Change

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”
– Marshal Ferdinand Foch

In Fall 2011, I attended the Design Futures Council’s Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design, and was impressed by the number of thoughtful, committed architects, designers and builders who are determined to create a more sustainable future in American cities.  At the Summit, our mantra was “you must stand for something, or you will fall for everything.  Never has this been more true than in addressing the risks of climate change, and identifying ways to counteract this dangerous warming of our earth.

I have long been a believer in the “power of one,” the power of each individual to stand up, speak out, and make a difference.  Now is the time to do so.

Summer 2012 has been a dangerous season for heat, drought and wildfires, exemplified by the blazes that scorched parts of Colorado and blackened hundreds of thousands of acres of New Mexico wilderness.  The August issue of Food, Nutrition & Science called this summer’s dry heat the worst American drought in nearly 50 years. Corn crops have been hit particularly hard; their decimation reminds us how fragile our environment really is.

Missouri has been hit hard by drought, as seen in this withered stand of corn.

(For an excellent discussion of the perils of wildfires throughout the U.S., read Timothy Egan’s opinion piece from July 2012 in the New York Times here.)

Even on the island of Nantucket, fire walls are being built, and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation is working on a Wildfire Risk Reduction Program, including brush cutting firebreaks and scheduling prescribed burnings.  The goal of this effort is to identify land management strategies that will reduce “fuel loads” of highly flammable vegetation on Foundation properties, especially where they occur in close proximity to homes.

Photo courtesy of Jim Lentowski and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.

In a world where people still debate the concepts of climate change and global warming, in spite of overwhelming evidence of steadily increasing temperatures, I turn to James E. Hansen, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) for a clear-eyed view of our future.  A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he received the Heinz Environment Award in 2001 for his climate research. Research at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) emphasizes a broad study of global change, addressing natural and man-made changes in our environment — from one-time events such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal and annual effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages — that affect the habitability of our planet.

In an opinion piece he wrote for the Washington Post on August 3, 2012, (Climate Change Is Here, and Worse Than We Thought), Hansen discusses a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which reveal a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers.  He is emphatic that the analysis shows that for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is no explanation other than climate change.

On June 20, 2012, published a list of 23 ways the earth has changed in the 20 years since the first “Earth Summit” was held in Rio de Janeiro.  (Read more here.)  Among the trends they’ve identified are:

  • There are about 1.5 billion more people in the world, an increase of 27%
  • The average person eats 20 pounds more meat each year.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions increased 36%, from 22 billion tons to 30 billion tons.
  • The ten hottest years since records began in 1880 all occurred since 1998.
  • Artic sea ice has declined 35%.

Who’s Taking Action?

A movement called Architecture 2030 is underway, driving a national grassroots movement to foster private/public partnerships to create sustainable urban growth.  The 2030 District Model brings property owners together with local governments, businesses, architects and planners to provide a solid business model for urban sustainability.  First established in Seattle, today more cities are joining the effort.  This month, Pittsburgh joined Cleveland and Seattle by launching a Pittsburgh 2030 District.

2030’s mission is to rapidly transform the U.S. and global Building Sector from the major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate change, energy consumption, and economic crises. Architecture 2030’s Edward Mazria will deliver a lecture titled “The Next Built Environment, Today” on Monday September 10th at Carnegie Mellon University.  Read more about the movement here.

What Can You Do to Help?

The scope of our activities that generate carbon dioxide emissions are great, including driving our cars, turning on a light, and heating or cooling our homes.  But you can make a difference by taking action:

  • Plan your errands to make fewer short car trips.  Cars emit the most carbon dioxide when the engine is cold.
  • Properly inflate your car tires to prevent excess fuel consumption.
  • Turn down the heat or air conditioning a fraction.  Even moving the thermostat up or down a degree or two can make a huge difference.
  • Recycle whatever you can.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Switch off appliances not in use at the wall.  Anything connected to an energy source uses standby power that can consume unnecessary energy.
  • Before buying anything, ask yourself, “do I really need this?”  Rampant consumerism plays a huge role in carbon emissions.

Look for more ways to help, by visiting or

As James Hansen says, “This is the world we have changed, and now we have to live in it…There is still time to act and avoid a worsening climate, but we are wasting precious time…The future is now.  And it is hot.”







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.

The Green on Nantucket

Nantucket Island abounds with beautiful beaches, charming cottages, incredible inns and fabulous food.  Picking a favorite anything is almost impossible here, but there are a few places that I return to again and again.

The Green Restaurant at 6 West Creek Road is one of those special places.

I’m a firm believer that food should both taste good and make you feel good, and every time I go to the Green I am reminded that they believe that, too.  They offer healthy, organic and naturally delicious dishes, such as cranberry walnut chicken salad with scallions, baby arugula and brown rice.

Or crumbled goat cheese with sliced fresh strawberries, candied pecans, sliced avocado, balsamic vinaigrette, arugula and brown rice.

There are vegan cookies, such as oatmeal cranberry, or a vegan flourless chocolate raspberry pie.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!

Open for breakfast and lunch, some people say they have the best coffee and bagels on the island.  You can get everything fresh:  fresh smoothies, fresh juice from their juice bar, and other healthy offerings such as shots of wheat grass to boost your immune system.  If you’re off to the beach for the day, they’ll pack you a custom lunch bag full of goodies.

It’s a great place to go for healthy food you’ll love—the kind of food that loves you right back.



The Timeless Elegance of Antiques

One of the most highly regarded antiques show on the east coast is taking place on Nantucket from August 3rd to 6th.  A benefit for the Nantucket Historical Association, the show is a highlight of the island’s summer season! This year, their 35th, will be a wonderful week of parties, lectures and activities. Read more about it here.

It all starts with the Preview on August 2nd, and continues through Monday, August 6th at Bartlett Farm, 33 Bartlett Farm Road.  Don’t miss it!



Mark Tercek of The Nature Conservancy to Speak at The Sconset Chapel

I hope you’ll join me on Sunday, August 5th at 7:30 p.m. when Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, makes a visit to Nantucket to speak at The Sconset Chapel as part of their Siasconset Chapel Sunday summer lecture and concert series..  Mr. Tercek will reflect on conservation in the 21st Century, and what it will take to protect nature in a rapidly changing world. 

This former managing director of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. spent more than two decades on Wall Street before joining The Nature Conservancy.  Now, with the help of his board and the input of the Conservancy’s 600 scientists, he wants to remake the face of the American and global environmental movements.

Admission is free. I’ll be there–hope to see you there, too!

Read more about Mark Tercek here

To find out more about what the Nature Conservancy is doing to help the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, read their Spring/Summer 2012 newsletter here.

Guest Blogger Michael May: Summer Kitchens House Tour and August Fete

Please join me and Michael May, executive director of the Nantucket Preservation Trust, in celebrating Nantucket’s architectural heritage at the NPT’s Summer Kitchens House Tour and August Fete!

The interior of 4 Traders Lane, open for the July 19 Kitchens Tour, NPT easement; photo by Kris Kinsley



The Nantucket Preservation Trust (NPT) encourages preservation activity by showcasing the work of others. One way we do this is by organizing special house tours, including our annual Summer Kitchens House Tour and August Fete.  This year Pine Street is the site of the NPT’s Eighth Annual Summer Kitchens House Tour which will be held on Thursday, July 19, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The tour provides the opportunity to view a wide array of kitchens—from a retro 1950s kitchen to one that is very twenty-first century.

Retro 1940’s kitchen at 4 Traders Lane; photo by Kris Kinsley

Tour goers can view the properties at their own pace, and along the way will be offered treats prepared by local chefs.  They will also have an opportunity to shop at the Kitchen Marketplace for unique gifts and kitchen items.



August 9 is the date of the NPT’s August Fête– one of the summer’s most memorable evenings, because it is more than a party—it is a celebration of Nantucket’s historic architecture.  This year, participants will tour five historic summer homes in the village of ’Sconset and learn some preservation pointers along the way.  There also will be a special tour of the restoration work at the Siasconset Union Chapel.

Embroidered Narrative by local artist Susan Boardman to be auctioned on August 9 to support NPT programs; photo by Jack Weinhold

For ticket information on both events or to learn more about the work of the Nantucket Preservation Trust visit our website.

Guest Blogger Michael May is the executive director of the Nantucket Preservation Trust

Guest Blogger Michael May: Preserving the Rich History of Nantucket

Today, most islanders and visitors think of Nantucket and historic preservation simultaneously; they go together—hand in hand—but the reality is that historic fabric continues to be lost on island to insensitive renovation. Nantucket’s very success as a significant historic place threatens the resources we thrive to protect and that helps set us apart from mainland communities.

The Nantucket Preservation Trust’s role as stewards and advocates of the island’s rich architectural heritage is to further preservation education and to encourage the protection of our historic resources. It is our hope that all of us will think of historic properties as art objects—one-of-a-kind treasures that through a mix of luck and love have survived. In order to truly save our island’s historic resources, we all need to value and appreciate not only the exteriors of historic buildings, but the quirks and flaws in the interiors that make them different and give them character.  And we all need to encourage patching, repairing and recycling instead of, gutting, replacing and wasting building materials.

Maria Mitchell’s birthplace; photo by Michael May

You don’t need to be a preservationist to know our historic buildings are important. All you have to do is look around and it becomes quite clear that historic preservation is a vital part of the island community and economy. Nantucket’s concentration of historic architecture has for the past 150 years set the island apart from communities on the mainland—drawing visitors from far and wide. Visionaries like Walter Beinecke Jr. knew that the tourism industry would boom as long as we protected these resources.  Using historic preservation as a tool—tourism became the life blood of the local economy, and although some forget–it remains so even today.

Nantucket Atheneum Public Library; photo by Michael May

Some of us may not realize that the historic charm of the island is also a key reason for having some of the highest real estate values in the nation.  And a key reason for Nantucket retaining its charm is that we have regulations that protect our built environment. These regulations have played a critical role in protecting resources and also ensuring quality work for our island designers, architects, and others with a connection to the building trades.

It is shortsighted to think of our preservation regulations as obstacles.  Anyone who loves Nantucket should recognize that our historic resources are of equal importance to those of our environmental and should be equally protected, just as we protect our harbor, wetlands, and beaches.

North Church window; photo by Kristin Weber

Over the past decade it has become clear that regulation alone is not the only answer.  Too many of the interior elements of our historic houses are being thoughtlessly destroyed. Those elements give character and integrity to historic architecture and should be maintained. Moreover they remain a critical part of our economic success as a whole as well as retaining the value of an individual house over time.  Removing significant interior features destroys a direct connection to our past and the link to the future.  Unfortunately, Nantucket is slowly losing that tie—house by house. We need to work together—builders, homeowners, local government, downtown businesses, realtors, and preservationists—to make ethical decisions that protect these resources.

NPT is currently advocating for the protection of historic Martins Lane; photo courtesy of NHA, Martins Lane, c. 1950

Preserving a building’s important features inside and out (not just its shell) as well as its landscape and street context, ensure its economic value.  An analogy to how we should treat a historic building is found in how we now look at a fine antique. Not too long ago fine antiques were often stripped of their original patina—purportedly to make them fresh and clean—for short-term profit.  Today, the long-term value of such a piece is drastically diminished from one with its original surface and signs of wear. Original surface on an antique is now prized and can mean extreme variables in price.

This is also the case with an antique house.  Houses that retain their originality inside and out will always be prized and valued. It is important, therefore, to handle an intact, historic house with care and to make decisions based on its long-term value and architectural integrity. This is not to say changes cannot be made. All houses evolve, but there is a right and a wrong way to handle an old house.

NPT House Marker program provides passersby with an opportunity to learn more about a historic building; photo by Michael May

Gutting a historic house on Nantucket is never the answer, and is a poor investment decision, besides being unethical because gutting steals history from future generations. Let the historic qualities of a house shine, use a “light touch,” and highlight the elements that make your house special. Ask questions and find contractors who understand the need to treat your old house in a proper manner.  If you do, it will increase in value and you will help ensure the future of the architectural heritage of this special place for generations to come.

Here are some tips to consider before starting a restoration project.

Restoring a historic building can be a challenge. It is often difficult to know where to begin and who to turn to for assistance and advice.  The Nantucket Preservation Trust is available to meet with you and to help guide you in the process.

NPT provides house histories and house research that includes historic images from the NHA collection; photo courtesy of NHA

Consider the big picture. Why undertake a restoration project at this time? For many people, the answer is that new mechanicals or kitchen/baths are desired or the house is a new purchase and updating is necessary. As a steward of an island resource you will need to accomplish your goals while protecting and enhancing your home’s historic elements.

Learn about your home’s history and architecture. Before you begin the work, learn more about your house. Every house has a story to tell—not just who built it and who owned it or lived in it over the years, but how the house evolved gradually over time to meet the needs of succeeding owners. Understanding the architectural evolution of the house and its history is key to proper restoration.  The NPT can help you learn more with a simple walk-through to point out original historic elements and changes, and/or with a detailed house history.

Hire an architect, contractor and other experts who understand your needs and the importance of retaining historic fabric. Communicating your desire to retain the historic feel of your property is essential. A talented and sensitive architect/contractor also can help steer you through a more challenging—and interesting—effort to preserve your home’s character while at the same time make needed repairs and improvements.

Original features, such as the transom and staircase with mortgage button should be maintained; photo by Michael May

Limit the scope of repairs. Keep original details. Don’t over-restore. Your philosophy toward restoring your home should be, like that of a physician, “first, do no harm.”  Although some historic elements may need attention, avoid unnecessary repairs and over-finishing. Replace only the portion of elements that are damaged. Replications of molding profiles and other elements will help retain your building’s historic character. Keep old wood as much as possible. New wood will not wear like the original, which is denser and will continue to perform well as long as any rotten sections are repaired.

Retain the historic plan and features. The historic layout should be retained whenever possible. New kitchen and baths should be added in areas that cause the least amount of damage to original fabric. Defining elements should be retained and can include transoms (that small band of windowpanes above doorways); paneled doors with old hardware; mantels; ceiling medallions; and moldings around doorways and windows, where walls meet ceilings, picture moldings, and chair rails. Other important Nantucket features such as old mirror boards (moldings or woodwork between windows) also should be retained. Keep the winder staircases, which have served houses on Nantucket for centuries and are beautifully constructed. If new stairs are required, consider adding straight-run stairs in new additions or areas outside the historic core.  Be cautious in the removable of wings and other elements; rear ells may be original and are often important to the historic character of the house and surrounding neighborhood.

Keep the plaster walls. In the past, plaster was routinely torn out—even by well-meaning preservationists—to make it easier to install new mechanical systems and wiring.  But grouping those components and snaking them through the walls can be accomplished.  Plaster is far superior to modern drywall since it isn’t ruined if it gets wet. It also provides excellent soundproofing, and can be patch-repaired.


Resetting historic plaster in a restoration project; photo by Brian Pfeiffer

Take special care with your wood floors. Many people want to retain the old floors in a historic house, but there is a right way—and a wrong way—to restore them.  Old flooring is often over-sanded, reducing the floor’s life span and at the same time destroying its antique character.  Old floors were hand-planed, and gentle hand-sanding or chemical removable of paint and finishes is the best way to protect them.  Simple cleaning and waxing will retain the old patina, too.

Maintain the quirks. Straighten that crooked window or doorway?  Not necessarily. Treasure the things that show evidence of how your house evolved over the generations. Your house will be more charming and authentic as a result—and yes valuable. It is possible to make structural repairs and still keep those elements that give the house a real Nantucket sense of place.

Restore—don’t replace—historic windows. Windows are key elements of old houses. Old windows were made to be repaired, not replaced. Almost all pre-1940 window frames were built of high-quality, dense wood in easy-to-assemble parts. Maintenance of old windows generally involves keeping them painted and in good working order. Old windows can easily be made energy efficient by adding sensitive storm windows and weather stripping.


Photo by Michael May

Take special care in repairing masonry. Portland cement is usually not compatible with historic brick, and its use can lead to structural damage and moisture problems that can spread to other areas.  Of particular concern on Nantucket are chimneys that have been lined or repointed with cement.  The weight of cement can bring down an old chimney and lead to very costly repairs. Repointing mortar with the correct lime mortar–cement ratio is essential and should not increase the expense.  Hire a mason who understands the importance of matching the mortar to the old brick.

Build new wings “with Nantucket in Mind.” Design any new addition so it is fully compatible with the main core and does not overwhelm it. Oversized additions can negatively affect the streetscape. Read Building With Nantucket in Mind, the architectural design guidelines produced by the Nantucket Historic District Commission.

Complete maintenance on a regular basis. Routine maintenance, such as proper paint preparation, will help minimize rot and the need for costly repairs.  Maintenance on Nantucket is especially important because of the sea air and damp winters.  Address suspected water problems or other issues early to minimize damage


Guest Blogger Michael May is the executive director of the Nantucket Preservation Trust.

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.




Find us in New England Home’s Summer Cape and Islands Issue!

Creating beautiful, gently green interiors is both my work and my passion, but there’s a special pleasure involved when I work in a home of architectural significance.  New England Home Magazine’s Summer Cape and Islands Issue features Dujardin Design interiors in just such a place:  a home designed by architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen in Sconset, on Nantucket Island.


Photography:  Michael Partenio

Designed by Mr. Jacobsen in 1990 and untouched since it was built, it is a prime example of the Jacobsen style:  a large center pavilion flanked by “outbuildings” recalling the barns, detached kitchens and smokehouses of rural America.  The house fits perfectly into the Nantucket landscape, with gray exterior and minimal trim.


Photography:  Michael Partenio

The interiors we created preserved all the original details of the house, and celebrated Mr. Jacobsen’s vision, while fitting the home to the new owners’ lifestyle, and resulting in more healthful surroundings.


Photography:  Michael Partenio

It was our pleasure to carefully select striking furniture and fixtures to mirror the clean lines of the house, while infusing the home with quiet luxury.


Photography:  Michael Partenio

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Cape and Islands Issue, and enjoy a visit to a bright, sun-filled, truly American home!



The Pleasures of Summer at Pumpkin Pond Farm

Photography:  Kevin McGowan

One of my favorite places on Nantucket is Pumpkin Pond Farm, a certified organic 9.5 acre farm and nursery located at 25 Millbrook Road.   Owner Marty McGowan, his wife Holly and his sister Mary have created an Eden-like oasis of color and flavor, offering a wide variety of delicious vegetables and greens, along with trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and just for good measure, rare and beautiful antique garden ephemera.

They are dedicated to sustainable agriculture and good soil science, in addition to planting for color and beauty as well as taste.  Marty prides himself on being a nutrient rich-organic food source for the island.  More people are becoming aware that local food is healthier than food that has to travel long distances to reach our tables.  Pumpkin Pond also buys seeds and heirloom varieties only from certified organic providers.


Photography:  Kevin McGowan

“I have fun discovering the provenance and stories behind many of the heirloom varieties we grow,” says Marty.  For anyone interested in the story behind their heirloom vegetables, he suggests a visit to Gary Ibsen’s TomatoFest.

You’ll find both French and Italian varieties of herbs and greens, fields overflowing with fragrant flowers for cutting and 26 different kinds of heirloom tomatoes.  (Plan on attending their August tomato tasting for an exploration into sweet and delicious pairings with cheese, wine and salami from Boston’s North End.)


Photography:  Kevin McGowan

A tropical greenhouse is home to banana plants, gardenias, passion flowers and ginger, along with a wide variety of succulents.  20,000 varieties of annuals add an explosion of summer color, and their extensive tree and shrub collection, along with a wide selection of hydrangeas, make a visit to the farm an experience you won’t forget.

A new addition this year an herb garden, where they’re exploring new and exiting varieties of herbs, such as an oregano from Greece or Spain, and paprika from Africa.  The herb gardener, fondly known to as “Farmer Josh,” makes wonderful herbal sun tea fresh daily.  A favorite of visitors is Chocolate Mint with Chamomile; stop by and try some!


Photography:  Kevin McGowan

Holly, Marty’s wife, is the creative vision behind their unique collection of garden ephemera.  You can find both classic and eclectic ornaments, furniture and urns to grace your garden there.

One of their favorite events happens July 25-28 when the Nantucket Garden Festival takes place. It’s one of the season’s most popular events for islanders and non-islanders alike.    The farm hosts the Opening Night party from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on July 25th; add it to your calendar now.

Hope to see you there!






Daffodils and Earth Day!

Where can you go to see three million daffodils in bloom, along with a parade, an antique car show, and breathtaking vistas of sea and sand?  Nantucket Island celebrates its Annual Daffodil Festival this year on April 27 to 29th.  Everyone on the island participates in this joyful extravaganza; gardens and shop windows are full of yellow blossoms, islanders (human and canine) are decked out in daffodils, and there’s even an Daffodil Tailgate Picnic, with gourmet cuisine served on fine china or in box lunches.

My husband Frank and I, along with our three bichon frises, Ellie, Tuffy and G.G., never miss it.  (For a brief history of the festival and photos of previous year’s fun, see last year’s blog post.)

The event began in 1974 when the late Jean MacAusland (former island resident and publisher of Gourmet Magazine) persuaded the Nantucket Garden Society to sponsor a daffodil show on the island.  The goal of planting over one million daffodil bulbs has long been surpassed, and what a show it is!

Hope to see you there!


This year, Earth Day is Sunday, April 22nd, and the theme is A Billion Acts of Green!  The Earth Day Network’s goal is to grow environmental awareness around the world through civic engagement and environmental education.  More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day events in 192 countries, making it the largest civic observance in the world.   For Earth Day 2012, the Earth Day Network hopes to register one billion separate Acts of Green, everything from a pledge to plant a garden, use non-toxic cleaning supplies, or eat more local food.  It’s easy to do:  sign up here.

Anchoring the Present to the Past

The Spring issue of Nantucket Today features an article I wrote on restoring the Captain Parker house on Flora Street in Nantucket.  Historical preservation and reverence for the past is key to the work I do when working with older buildings.  My clients know that  I believe that a healthy home is the ultimate luxury,  and I work tirelessly to make each family home a refuge from toxins and contaminants.  The installation of air filtration systems, painting with low or no VOC paints and finishes and restoring woodwork with sustainable choices are all an integral part of my work, but it’s also important to honor the history of the house and the families who first called it home. How do you blend a reverence for history with an appreciation for the health-giving properties of 21st Century building materials?

A credentialed, award-winning interior designer is the best choice for delicate historical preservation work.  I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the Spring issue of Nantucket Today and enjoy the story of how I restored the Captain Parker House and brought it back to vibrant life.  More homes on Nantucket should be protected and preserved; we owe it to the island to honor the work of the families who came before us, braving the ocean winds and waves to make a life on this fragile and beautiful outpost in the Atlantic.

Read the article at Nantucket Today online.



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!

A Twinning of Two Cities

(Hotel de Ville)

The Town of Nantucket and the city of Beaune were officially twinned (Jumelage in French) five years ago. The first ceremony took place on Nantucket in 2005; later 50 Nantucketers traveled to France to commemorate the event. This year was the fifth anniversary of Jumelage, and Frank and I were delighted to travel to Beaune with another group of Nantucketers.

(Dinner our first night in Beaune)

As founder Denis Toner wrote, “Beaune and Nantucket share a common interest in history, culture and gastronomy,” and our sun-drenched days there did pay homage to the glories of good food lovingly prepared, the perfect wine paired with each meal, and the beauty of the surrounding countryside.

(Trudy and Frank with Denis Toner at Montrachet)

Beaune is considered the capital of Burgundy wines, and is located between the Cotes de Nuits to the North and the Cotes de Beaune to the South. Sipping the delicious, jewel toned wines at a table filled with old friends and new added richness to our travels. In addition to Beaune, we travelled to Puligny-Montrachet, Cote de Beaune, Vougeot, Abbaye de la Bussiere and Cote de Nuit.

(Les deux chevaliers: Trudy and Frank are knighted!)

One of the highlights of the trip was seeing and tasting the delicious truffles, found by Le Montrachet chef Theirry Berger and his dog, Etouffe.

(Truffles in the marketplace)

It was an enchanting journey through a beautiful country. As always, the people we traveled with and met while there were the most charming part of our adventure. We can’t wait for another Jumelage celebration.

(Trudy entering la comedie for paulee de jumelage)

A beintot!

CT Cottages & Gardens: Nantucket Style!

Join me in celebrating our eight page spread in Connecticut Cottages & Gardens Magazine.  The February issue of the magazine features my newly remodeled Nantucket home by the sea!  Completely “green” in design from front door to chimney top, all the building materials, cabinetry, flooring and finishes were carefully selected to be as healthy as they are beautiful.

Creating a home as fresh as the sea breezes that blow through the windows is easier than ever now, as eco-friendly choices in rugs, upholstered furniture, and drapery fabrics are rapidly expanding.  I invite you to pick up a copy of the magazine or visit their website for an “e-visit!’  I hope it feels like a little bit of summer for you.

The article is available now on Connecticut Cottages & Gardens’ website!