An Unexpected Treasure -July 2012

by: Lisa Clair

photography by: Terry Pommett

There is a quiet lane, bounded by sand and seagrass, that meanders through the Wauwinet landscape as if it had no particular destination in mind. It is rarely traveled, and visitors drive slowly so the wandering plovers have time to scurry out of the way, disappearing quickly into the windswept dunes. There is a destination, though, a secluded beach house that its owners refer to as “an unexpected little treasure.”

The master bedroom is a place of rest and repose, with built- in shelves displaying the owners’ collection of Nantucket baskets. Two chairs, an ottoman and a window seat are cozy spots for reading and contemplating the water view.

For the Midwestern couple who happily lives here with their dog several months of the year, the house is an extension of everything they love about Nantucket. It is a place where their shared philosophy of life, to celebrate the wonder of their time together and truly live in the moment, comes true.

Purchased several years ago, after extensive renovation and design work, this upside-down house today perfectly reflects the owners and the work of talented professionals who helped them make it their own. In traditional island style, 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. Its beachy charm is overlaid with elegance, and precious antiques and original artwork are blended with unconventional fleamarket finds and personal mementos.

Builder Ron Winters of 30 Acre Wood worked with architect Scott Hutton from Lyman Perry Architects on the renovations. Dujardin Design Associates did the interior design that brought the home to completion for the owners.

“The real-estate agent told us that this house would be work,” the wife said. “I told her I’m not afraid of work. Then I walked in and said, ‘there’s a lot of work here!’” She credits Winters and Hutton for skillfully interpreting what she and her husband wanted. Later, when completing the interiors, she said, “Trudy Dujardin had a vision and transformed the house into something spectacular. It’s still our home, though. Both Trudy and her assistant Price Connors were so respectful of some of the quirky things I wanted to keep.”

“We spend 95 percent of our time upstairs,” the wife said, her voice filled with reverence. “The living room has that Nantucket feel and the smell of the wood. When I walk in, my heart just melts.”

This spacious yet comfortable room is anchored by a large fireplace where the couple likes to curl up with a good book and enjoy a fire in the off-season, or gather with friends on starlit summer evenings. A wooden whale above the mantel is a bold focal point for the blue and white room. The wife bought it on the spot the first time she saw it, knowing that it was the right touch of Nantucket for her favorite space. A pair of spool chairs on either side of the fireplace artfully balances the room’s soft shades and rich fabrics. Their signature turned wood was a New England invention in the 1700s.

One of the home’s most striking pieces is an antique Swedish apothecary chest. “I arrived home one day and there it was,” she said with a laugh, adding that her husband has challenged her to fill up its 20 drawers, although she has no idea how.

An antique lacemaker’s table and painted chairs grace the dining room, adding character and depth to the house. When not being used for casual dinners, the table has provided a work space for one of the wife’s hobbies: weaving Nantucket baskets. An extensive collection of lightship and nesting baskets can be found throughout the home, carefully-collected antique pieces as well as her own work.

Shelves in the master bedroom were built to showcase her collection, one of the many ways the design of the home mirrors the couple and their interests. A separate sitting area in the bedroom is a place of rest and repose, with comfortable chairs for reading as well as a window seat for gazing out at the view in quiet moments.

Downstairs, two guest suites offer space for visitors. A delightfully unique sleeping alcove was created there. Throw pillows designed by Price Connors for Dujardin Design Associates add a splash of color and pay homage to the Lone Star State, where the wife grew up, and where the couple still has a home.

The entryway is one of the home’s most inviting and yet personal spaces. An antique deacon’s bench first beckons visitors forward, before their attention is captured by a striking map of Nantucket on the wall. Created 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. Each of the four corners bears witness to the lives they lead: Brant Point Light in one corner, the couple and their dog on the beach in another, two flags (one of Texas) in the third corner, and the arch of St. Louis in the fourth, the Midwestern city where they reside.

“I didn’t need a Picasso,” the wife admitted, “but I wanted something personal, something no one else has. I would never have dreamed of it, but Trudy had a vision and contacted her friend Christian, and I was up for it.”

That attitude, of “being up for it,” is imbued throughout the home. It’s a happy house, a place where friends are welcomed and memories are made, where every sunset and ocean breeze is cherished, where lobster dinners at night give way to sailing in the morning, and life itself is an unexpected little treasure. 

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