Bring Autumn’s Beauty Home

 

Life on Nantucket is a never-ending tapestry of natural beauty. This island is where I find joy in the simple rhythms of the day, as well as much of my design inspiration. Although many people come here for the summer, with the beautiful beaches, warm evenings and the whirl of social life, there is just as much to inspire us when the weather turns colder and the leaves have fallen.

 

My husband, Frank, with G.G. at the Farmers’ Market

 

Come along with me  as I share how I find comfort and beauty as the seasons change!

The first place I go: the island’s Farmers Market, sponsored by Sustainable Nantucket. It had been a long, quiet, and lonely road through the pandemic, so the joy I felt being with the artists, craftspeople and island farmers at the Saturday markets this summer was indescribable. (Luckily, there are a few more days this year to gather: for the Downtown Holiday Market on November 25 and 26, and then the Farmers and Artisans Market during Christmas Stroll on December 2 and 3. )

 

The colors of autumn!

 

Here’s what I love: the way original artwork and crafts combine with fresh food and locally-grown produce to bring people together! That combination also brings fresh ideas, and a new way of seeing. Fall changes the slant of morning sunlight, and breathes its frosty breath on the last of the autumn roses. I rush home from the Farmers Market with an arm full of bright red and orange tomatoes, eager to lay a fire and light candles.

 

“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

 

It’s time to say goodbye to the bees until spring, but the market offers a final glimpse of a busy hive. Nantucket is home to many island beekeepers, with Sustainable Nantucket offering a beekeeping mentoring program for novices. I love bees, birds, and butterflies, and have long forbidden the use of pesticides and fungicides on my lawn and garden. A connection with nature is vital to our health.

Watching the busy little gold and brown insects gives me other ideas for autumn-warmed rooms. Inspiration can come in the tiniest of ways!

 

 

The local artists and craftspeople find natural beauty to inspire them, too.  Nantucket’s unique whaling history and the salty ocean waves that surround the island bring internationally famous artists to our shores as well.

 

From the mid 1700s to the late 1830s, Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world.

 

In the waters surrounding Nantucket, you can find Humpback whales, Finback whales, Minke whales, Pilot whales, and the endangered Right whales.

 

Fresh Flowers!

 

I believe in  bringing the patterns and textures of nature inside. As a sustainable LEED-accredited Professional with a specialty in Interior Design and Construction (LEED AP + ID + C),  I love fresh flowers, nature-based artwork, and natural fabrics.

Each of us will look at the jewel-tones of autumn and find a unique way to bring the outdoors in. “The question is not what you look at,” said Henry David Thoreau, “but what you see.”

I agree!

 

The painting, “Finches–Right Eye,” is by the American Neo-Expressionist painter Hunt Slonem.

 

You can nestle right in to sumptuous hues such as persimmon, spice, pumpkin, sage, and olive in fall. Dujardin’s Senior Designer Price Connors and I used those rich colors in our design work at the historic Thomas Starbuck House, brought to Nantucket’s Milk Street by barge in 1790.

 

The dining room retains its original cooking fireplace with two ovens, considered one of the finest examples of its kind in New England.

 

Warmer hues were  perfect for this historic home, built when earthy colors such as stone, ocher, red, pumpkin and sage were widely in use.

Poet A.D. Posey said, ” Life is a sea of vibrant color. Jump in.”

Why not?

 

The paneled wall surrounding the fireplace is painted with a Farrow & Ball paint that reflects the traditional colors of the period.

 

You’ll want to place a soft blanket where you sip your morning coffee, with a throw pillow that brings a touch of nature indoors . Little details are not little at all.

On the contrary, as the painter N.C. Wyeth said, “To elevate the little into the great is genius.”

 

A contemporary version of a Hepplewhite sofa is a graceful addition to the parlor.

 

The last fall touch takes place in the kitchen with a pot of soup simmering on the stove,  Helen Keller told us that “scent is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.”

Do you have a favorite recipe from your grandmother? If not, I’ll share mine!

 

 

My favorite Butternut Squash Soup recipe is actually one of Ina Garten’s.

 

Old school green bean casserole

 

And since I’m originally from South Carolina,  side dishes from Southern Living really resonate with me! My favorite is the Old School Green Bean Casserole, made with canned fried onion rings. My mother made it even simpler with Campbells’ Cream of Mushroom Soup. Here’s the recipe! 

 

 

My other favorite is the Sweet Potato Casserole--we always had it with marshmallows!

 

 

And Price loves the Corn Pudding, and makes it every Thanksgiving!

 

 

Wherever you find yourself this fall, remember that your life is enriched when you attend to the small details and the little moments. I wish you all the comforts of home as you celebrate the season.

Watch for my new blogs once a month, and Instagram (@dujardin_design) and Facebook (@DujardinDesign) posts on Thursdays. Once a season I send a newsy email letter to you, too! Be sure to subscribe to get all the best design advice and beautiful inspiration through photos of our projects. I want all of us to live in happy, well-designed, healthy homes!

 

Put Your Dreams on Paper

There’s a magic touch that can take your rooms from plain to pretty: wallpaper!

Wallpaper has gone in and out of style over the years, but it’s definitely having a new moment in 2022–and for good reason! There’s nothing that provides the impact that beautifully made wallpapers can. Wallpaper can also be invaluable in working with both the architectural beauty and challenges of a space. I’ve always loved beautiful wallpapers and have used them in many different styles of homes.

 

This penthouse in New York was done with a silk string wallpaper. Photographer: Durstan Saylor

One of my favorite spaces to use wallpaper is the foyer. Your entryway sets the tone for the rest of the house, and defines your “sense of place.” If people tell me they can only afford to design one room–which room should it be? I say, let’s start at the beginning, and make a fabulous foyer!

 

This intimate boutique inn was beautifully renovated by Dujardin Design to showcase its period details and elegant interiors. The public areas feature a beautiful Chinoiserie wallcovering and fabric.

Come with me on a visit to one of Dujardin Design Associates’ recent projects on Nantucket where I can show you some of the details of how we work. It begins with conversations with the clients, then a search for fabrics, colors, textures, and a vision for the room. A presentation book is prepared for the client by our in-house artist before work begins.

 

 

We are fortunate to frequently work with clients on Nantucket Island, where my husband and I live part of each year. Nantucket has a rich history, complete with the original indigenous people, whaling captains and widows, fishermen and farmers, cranberries and blueberries, roses and hydrangeas and everywhere you look: legacy and antiquity.

 

Main Street on Nantucket Island

Nantucket is where I first began my immersion into sustainable design, the result of building a home on the fragile shores of Nantucket Harbor. I was determined to “do it right.” Doing it right started with the understanding that since it was such a delicate site within a very fragile ecosystem, everything I did had to be mindful, done with intention.

Today, I am considered a pioneer in sustainable design, and am a LEED-accredited professional with a specialty in Interior Design and Construction (LEED-AP + ID + C). I am a Fellow with ASID (FASID), and a Senior Fellow with the Design Futures Council. (Only 1% of members are asked to be Fellows, so I’m proud of that). My passion for creating homes in harmony with the earth was the impetus for achieving my credentials–“doing it right!”

All of that knowledge is brought to bear on every design project my firm undertakes, whether it is classified as a “green” design or not.

 

 

In this home, our starting point was a voluminous space with high ceilings.  First a builder’s spec house that subsequently became an island rental property, we were hired by a family from Connecticut who wanted it to become their forever second home. As we repurposed their treasures from Connecticut and refreshed with new pieces, we knew that adding wallpaper was going to be an important element of this home’s ambiance.

 

 

My trusted work associate, G.G., agreed that wallpaper was exactly what we needed!

 

 

We also knew we wanted to replace this builder-supplied chandelier with something more appropriate to the homeowners’ taste.

 

 

For the walls, we turned to Peter Fasano handcrafted wall coverings from Westport, Connecticut. Their elegant designs are produced using a combination of hand-screened and digital printing, in the most beautiful color combinations. Their hand-screening process gives you a softer look on real paper, with real inks done by hand. Our on-island crew does meticulous work prepping the walls for the paper, then applying it.

 

 

We selected a wide stripe as it’s such a classical element. The paper had to be neutral as the foyer opens up into other rooms. This selection warmed the space and made the 25 foot high ceiling feel more manageable.

 

 

How do you like the smoke bell lantern in place of the old chandelier? Its timelessly brilliant light is another way we warmed the large space. This one of a kind, mouth-blown lantern was shipped from London–twice–as the first time it was shipped it arrived broken. When the second lantern arrived–the last one in stock!–we all held our breath as we opened the box.

In earlier days, instead of electric lights there were candles inside, and the top was to keep smoke from damaging the ceiling.

 

 

And for softness underfoot: a 100% wool rug by Stark. Both the rug and the wallpaper are made using natural materials, as opposed to a vinyl wall covering or polypropylene for the carpet. With the small pattern the rug is contemporary but also rooted in tradition, and adds to the classic elegance of the home.

 

I’m delighted to be blogging again!

Watch for my new blogs once a month, and Instagram (@dujardin_design) and Facebook (@DujardinDesign) posts on Thursdays. Once a season I’ll send a newsy email letter to you, too! Be sure to subscribe to get all the best design advice and beautiful inspiration through photos of our projects. I want all of us to live in happy, well-designed, healthy homes!

Remember, you want this:

“What you surround yourself with should bring you peace of mind and peace of spirit.”–Stacy London

Not this:

“This wallpaper is dreadful, one of us will have to go.”–Oscar Wilde

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

  A Guest Post by Bestselling Author and Nantucket Resident Nancy Thayer

Nancy Thayer headshot 1

 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.”

hydrangeas

 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.”

28-Master Bedroom After31

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.

Nancy thayer workspace

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.

Nancy Thayer workspace 2

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.

17-Library Before12

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.”

quilts

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.

cottage 2

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.

Nancy Thayer headshot 2