Quintessential Martha’s Vineyard

June 13, 2023

A well-loved Martha’s Vineyard cottage gets an update that boosts its beachy vibe while keeping all the character its owners cherish.

Text by Paula M. Bodah     Photography by Jared Kuzia

The rambling, cedar-shingled summer cottage was beloved by its owners, a suburban Boston couple with two almost-grown children. But after several summers in the Martha’s Vineyard house, the two felt it was time to invest in some upgrades, both structurally and aesthetically.

They didn’t have to think too hard about the pros they wanted to transform their West Chop home. They had known builder Andrew Flake for years, and they had enjoyed working with designer Abby Yozell on the interiors of their Boston-area home.

Coming up with a remodeling plan turned out to be the easy part of the project. The bigger challenge was the owners’ desire to have all the work done in the offseason so they wouldn’t miss a day of summer fun with their many friends and extended family.

Yozell knew she’d need help to pull that off, so she called on another designer, her longtime friend Patricia McDonagh, to join the team. “We have a long history together,” says Yozell, explaining that the two met while working for Charles Spada in Boston and Nantucket more than two decades ago. “We each opened our own offices, but we’re still very attached to each other,” she adds.

The floor plan of the 1920s-built six-bedroom house didn’t change drastically outside of enlarging the kitchen and the primary bedroom, but much of the structure was stripped to the studs to upgrade wiring, plumbing, and heating.

Maintaining that character was paramount, Yozell says, a mission they accomplished in part by saving the home’s rich collection of old dark-metal hardware as well as touches like the V-groove door on the foyer’s old telephone closet.

Yozell and McDonagh created a classic beachy palette of beiges, blues, browns, and grays inspired by the living room’s stone fireplace. “It’s massive and it’s gorgeous and it sort of drives everything,” Yozell says.

“The fireplace is so strong, but our client wanted the house to feel airy,” McDonagh adds. To keep the summer vibe, the design duo kept most walls white and painted the floors a variety of sandy hues throughout.

The shades of blue transition from light to dark as rooms flow from the sky-blue accents in the mostly white kitchen to the ocean blues and grays of the living room to the moody deep turquoise of the family room. The dining room pulls the entire palette into the hand-painted mural that wraps the room. The surrounding landscape inspired Maine- and New York City-based artist Dean Barger’s dream-like design. “The colors are exquisite,” McDonagh says. “It ties everything together and creates a beautiful flow from room to room.”

Indoor-outdoor fabrics, including the pretty Holly Hunt open-weave drapes on the living room’s six floor-to-ceiling glass doors, stand up to damp, salty air, wet bathing suits, and tracked-in sand. “They rarely use the air conditioning,” Yozell says, preferring to keep windows wide open, the better to feel the breezes and hear the waves lapping the shore of the home’s private beach.

Thanks to the dedicated team of professionals, the tight deadline was met, and the happy homeowners were welcoming friends and family for summer fun right on schedule.

Project Team
Interior design: Abby Yozell; Patricia McDonagh Interior Design
Builder: Andrew A. Flake


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