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.

Textile Artist Richard Killeaney

Richard Killeaney with the quilt that lauched Ocheltree Design, created from men’s striped dress shirts.

One of the things I love in life is a person who finds the courage to follow their passions, sometimes right into a flourishing business.  Textile designer Richard Killeaney is one of those people.  A love for fabrics led him to an MFA in Textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).  Today, in addition to teaching Textiles to Fashion Design students at The Art Institute of New York City and Interior Design students at Fairfield University, in Fairfield, Conn., he operates his own home accessories company, Ocheltree Design.


This coverlet is made from recycled shirts, commercially produced fabrics, and an organic flannel lining.

He says his motivation came from his grandmother.  Richard’s grandmother collected quilts and needlework, and passed her treasures along to him when he learned how to sew. He began quilting at the age of 15, made his first bed quilt at the age of 18, and continued to make fine art quilts and art clothing as an undergrad.  At RISD, after creating a quilt made from recycled men’s blue and white striped dress shirts, his master’s thesis was a collection of five bedcoverings.


Missing the Point quilt, inspired by Killeaney’s native California, made from recycled shirts and organic batting and backing.

He began making Harris Tweed wool into pillows, cashmere sweaters into soft-to-the-touch baby blankets, and recycled leather into handsome tote bags.  His motivation is saving beautiful fabrics (he’s crazy for mohair), and keeping unwanted clothing from landfills through creative recycling.


This trio of pillows is made from recycled wool tweed and sequined silk.

His pillows are filled with 100% kapok, a natural fiber harvested from trees.  He selects color grown cotton, an organic cotton that is available naturally in earthy browns, greens and unbleached whites.  Although the quilt fronts are not always organic since they are made from recycled clothing, he prefers organic and unbleached fabrics and uses them whenever possible.


Baby blanket made from recycled cashmere sweaters.

“There are dangers in putting dyed fabrics into landfills. Even natural fibers, if dyed with certain chemicals or pigments, will leach toxins into the soil,” he explains.  A vegetarian, Richard has taken his love for fabrics and combined it with a reverence for the earth.  It’s a beautiful combination.


Tote bag made from recycled leather and cotton chino.

See more of Richard’s work at:

All other photography courtesy of Richard Killeaney.






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.


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.


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.


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.


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.