Here is a short list of some great paint shades I keep coming back to, and since I have used many of them for five, ten, or even twenty years, they are now on my list of “tried and true” colors.
Nantucket has always been a part of my life, in fact my earliest steps were toddling on the cobblestone streets, and in later childhood sprinting down Main Street in my Dr. Scholl’s sandals. In addition to other ventures, my parents had a guest house there in the 1970s. During one college summer I painted houses, taught tennis, and babysat. After graduation I managed a well-known island art gallery. As a result, my design aesthetic was built upon Nantucket’s rich tradition of historic preservation, fine antiques, and American handicrafts.
Nantucket is a destination just as fun in the summer as the off-season. In glorious spring the island comes alive. Everywhere you look there is inspiration for design. I’ve listed my eight great places — from restaurants to shops to scenic views — that you must check out on your next trip.
The Moors: the wild, gorgeous, and thankfully, undeveloped land mid-island, the Moors consist of a rugged landscape whose colors change with the seasons. From the elevation of Altar Rock, surrounded by rugged terrain, heath and heather, and can see Polpis, Coatue, and Sankaty.
Nantucket Looms: I still instinctively want to walk towards the corner of Washington and Main and the beloved Gardiner’s Corner Compass Rose mural when I think of the Looms yet that space is now occupied by the Ralph Lauren shop. Ensconced now at at the other end of Main Street, Nantucket Looms and their wares are the benchmark for fine island handicrafts. In my twenties I saved up for months for a hand loomed cotton rag rug and fluffy mohair throw for my island rental; today they still weave those sumptuous, cotton-candy colored blankets that make superb wedding or house warming gifts. They also carry great, island inspired decor and much loved, colorful and graphic collages by the Boston-based artist Liz Roache. Liz, a friend of mine for over twenty years, has recently produced some great, affordable prints of her work specifically for the Looms.
Nantucket native, photographer, and artist Michael Gaillard ventured off-island long enough to attend undergrad at Stanford, an MFA at Columbia, and graduate work at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His captivating, large format images, displayed in his South Beach Street studio, compelled me to cross the street on a rainy Saturday to find out more. His work, and his gallery as a whole, are a study in composition and sense of place. And check out the fabulous copper staircase of the adjacent restaurant, Oran Mor, housed in the same historic building as the gallery.
Nantucket Whaling Museum
Where else can you see a skeleton of a whale, beautiful decorative arts, and get to know the island history better than a place than a museum that was named one of the “10 Places in America to Go Before You Die” by Andrew Harper? I visited this architectural gem with a friend on Columbus Day weekend last fall. Awed, we seriously walked away with the same thought: we need to re-read Melville’s “Moby Dick”.
Shopping: fun, low key, and something for everyone:
Not everything related to island shopping is precious and out of reach; some of my usual suspects for shopping with your friends or sweetheart on a rainy day include Haul Over, which carries the preppy, fun Harding-Lane caps. The colorful baseball caps are a great company founded by my Dedham neighbors, and a portion of the sales give back to chartiy. Check out Anderson’s for home goods, The Atlantic (clothes, jewelry); and, of course, the venerable shop, Erica Wilson.
Cru Nantucket touts itself as an oyster bar but it is really a full on, amazing dining experience. From the perfect pairings of a French Chablis with oysters, fresh ocean-to-table dinners, and exceptional service, and a comfortable yet stylized interior, Cru doesn’t disappoint. And if your table mate gets the vista of the harbor from the end of Straight Wharf, then you get the view of the roaring fireplace on a chilly spring night and stylish crowd.
76 Main and 21 Broad
The Nantucket hotels of the Lark Collection are fun, curated designer inns with a fresh vibe that are“designed to feel as if you are staying in the guest room at a friend’s home”. The interiors are by fellow Boston area designer, the lovely Rachel Reider, and incorporate that familiar traditional, natural Nantucket look but with a modern twist; the locations are perfect for in-town stays, and the staff is helpful and friendly.
Lunch at Something Natural: While It’s a longer walk from Town, it’s easily manageable by a lazy bike ride, and that’s exactly the pace you need since you pass the some of the most expensive and beautiful real estate on Cliff Road en route. Each house, door paint color, and perennial garden is inspirational.
There is something wonderful about sandwiches at the destination. Easy and rustic Something Natural is an oasis, and one of the only places around that you can get bottled Matt Fee Tea along with your yummy sandwich. I remember Matt Fee Tea, a red hibiscus blend, poured from a pitcher long before Nantucket Nectars started bottling it. That ice tea and their soft Portuguese bread from the shop have been family favorites for decades.
In honor of World Book Day, I have compiled a short list of books for budding interior architects: these are standard, vital books that art historians, interior designers, and architects usually read in preparation for attending grad school or refer to and find extremely helpful when in the field of study. For as many museums, exhibitions, historical sites, and buildings that you see, you need context; these books will help put everything in historical perspective because, ultimately, nothing is created in a vacuum.
The Thames and Hudson, Dictionary of Art and Artists
John Fleming and Hugh Honor, The Penquin Dictionary of Decorative Art
John Fleming, Hugh Honor, Nikolaus Pevsner, The Penquin Dictionary of Architecture
Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
E. H Gombrich, the Story of Art
John Fleming and Hugh Honor, A World History of Art
(this is the BIBLE for anyone in the art, architecture, and design fields)
D. Watkin, A History of Western Architecture
Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, selected lives trans. by G. Bull
J.R. Hale (ed.), A Concise Encyclopaedia of the Italian Renaissance
Nikolaus Pevsner, An Outline of European Architecture
John Summerson, The Classical Language of Architecture
Elsie de Wolfe, The House in Good Taste (for fun and understanding of the changes in interior design)
Lastly, to help with iconography,
James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, John Murray, 1974
Homes are divided in to public and private spaces: a public space is the Front Hall where you greet guests, the Living Room where you entertain them, or the Kitchen – a place that has radically changed from the private, family-and-household-help space it was a little over one hundred years ago, into the entertaining hub of a home today. Yet private spaces, like a dressing room, or a Master Bedroom sitting area, or even a Study or home office, are not also-rans or afterthoughts in design; indeed they are super personalized and high on the priority list when consulting with clients.
Yesterday, the Boston Globe published a beautiful color spread of a project of ours in Wellesley which showed a Living Room, a Dining Room, and a Study. Within a nanosecond, probably while the reader was still enjoying his first cup of coffee, I received my first email message about the article. Now, in less than 24 hours, and twenty-one email inquiries later, I can see a clear trend. I read questions (“what is the paint color in the Living Room?”), comments (“great dining chairs!”), and kudos for each room. But it doesn’t take a math major to figure out the percentage of inquires about the home office were an overwhelming two-thirds.
Maybe it was the cosiness of the room, using dark, plummy brown walls, and soft, taupe faux suede at the windows, or the perfectly sized leather settee from Ralph Lauren’s antique reproduction line (which I could have easily sold to each of the 14 people who emailed about the home office yesterday).
Especially now, during a New England winter, as we endeavor to spend more time at home with our families, I see that functional, beautiful home offices are certainly a trend that isn’t going away.
About this time every year, when the holidays are over and kids return to school, I’m able to think clearly about the new year and resolutions. I usually have a personal one that isn’t a ground breaker (“eat more fruit”), and a few professional ones. Over the years, the work related ones are a simple sentence, typed out and attached to the side of the fridge: “I will understand my client’s wishes and produce the best work possible for them”, or ” I will ask each client to serve as a reference for me”, both of which I’m happy to say, I do.
But early on, there was one tenet that I adhered to in every aspect of my business – and if you know me you’ve heard me say it: “I just want to work with good people.”
And by good, I mean wickedly talented, intrinsically good, fair minded people. This guideline applies to not only “my” people (my subs, my employees, the outside firms we use) but my clients. Since you are with these people everyday, in situations surrounding a client’s biggest personal asset (their home), you truly get to know one another.
It’s kind of like dating: a wise person once told me to look for “caring, open, happy, stable, fair types”. Sometimes what may appear on the surface to be a really terrific looking project pops up, but if you dig deeper, and usually not that deep, you’ll see that it really isn’t as wonderful as you thought. An incredibly successful early stage investor said to me long ago that he invested in the people, not the product; with the right people, anything is possible.
Thankfully I have amazing, bright, kind, lovely clients AND terrific, dedicated artisans, architects, and craftsmen who not only make it all great, but pretty fun, too. So, thank you my friends, like Flavin Architects, the dear and super talented Joe Keller (below, on a photo shoot with me that is about to be published in the Boston Globe); Howard Raley, the cast and crew of This Old House, David Webster and his team, and so many others that made magic this year alone. You’re the best.
My love of looking at paintings began early on, around fourth grade, when I began to visit museums throughout the world: initially Boston and New York and later Paris and London. I loved the variety of paintings, sculptures, decorative items, yet also the aura of the importance – even reverence – of the art. Eventually I studied studio art and art history and worked in the world of museums, galleries, and a London auction house. Even today, I still will “visit” my favorite works of art whenever I can. As a young girl I was mesmerized by the bravado brush strokes and pleasing composition of John Singer Sargent’s The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit. To this day, almost as if on autopilot, if I’m at the MFA I will visit that painting. Continue reading “Looking Good While Doing Good”