Smooth Sailing

June 7, 2016

A family’s beloved Nantucket getaway is razed and rebuilt in the off-season, providing a breezy retreat just in time for summer fun.

Text by Megan Fulweiler    Photography by Michael Partenio    Produced by Stacy Kunstel

The pastoral site surrounded by lush, bird-filled conservation land is lovely. Not far from the ocean but removed from the happy hubbub, it’s the quintessential Nantucket paradise. The new owners’ strategy for settling in was commencing nicely, too: they’d added a pool, a fully equipped two-bedroom pool house, and generous outdoor areas for lounging and dining.

Their next step was the renovation of the main house. But, alas, that’s where plans hit a snag. After much deliberation, the owners came to the conclusion that, without a great deal of time and expense, the existing building could never be the comfortable, efficient summer home they’d envisioned. In order not to miss one heady season on their beloved island, they concluded the only solution was to take it down and rebuild on the original footprint.

Still incredulous, the wife recounts how demolition began right after Labor Day, and by Memorial Day they’d moved back in. “It was amazing. The team worked so well together,” she says.

According to architect Mark Cutone, builder Joe Gamberoni, and interior designer Jennifer Palumbo, however, the secret to their seamless collaboration was the vision of the owners. “All the decisions were made early,” explains Cutone, which eliminated lengthy deliberations along the way.

Today’s vernacular-appropriate exterior mimics the look of the old house, weathering shingles and all. The versatile interior, though, is an open plan focusing on the views. The family room and kitchen spill into the living room with an ingeniously angled dining area as the link. It’s a layout that complements the owners’ family-and-friends-are-always-welcome lifestyle. There are four children of high school and college age, so guests are an almost everyday occurrence. But devised to weather traffic and resist clutter, the light-filled house accommodates even large numbers without missing a beat. And with dual bunk rooms in the basement level and an apartment over the garage, it will be the same if—as the wife muses—someday there are grandchildren. Yet, just as the owners had hoped, it’s also a house that feels right when the guests leave and it’s just the family.

To streamline, Cutone minimized trim work, incorporated numerous built-ins (including all the beds), and skillfully defined activity zones with modern elements. Visitors entering the front hall spy an artful curved wall to their right, a sleek fireplace to their left, and beyond the French doors ahead, the green landscape. The sinuous wall helps define the living room, while the modern, bioethanol-burning hearth (no venting required) lends warmth, literally and emotionally. Clad in shiplapped white oak, the stunning fireplace seems to rise from the pale oak floor like a tree.

Palumbo—who also designed the family’s winter home and has come to be a dear friend—beautifully underscores the clean architecture while simultaneously conjuring the relaxing spirit the owners anticipated. Her clients’ request for low maintenance translates into a host of stylish, durable fabrics. “We wanted ones that were easily cleanable but, when possible, with a textural quality for interest,” says the designer. Guests sliding onto the dining area’s banquette can’t help but notice that the handsome faux-leather seat is pleated. And those white Ligne Roset dining chairs may appear worrisome, but they’re also dressed in resilient faux leather.

Of course, the custom dining table, crafted by Altec Plastics with a resin top from 3form, is a centerpiece no one misses. Color is judiciously employed in this house, which makes the table with its dreamy top a standout. “The wife is fond of a specific watery-blue color,” Palumbo explains. “The top feels and looks like sea glass. And it doesn’t scratch.”

In the kitchen, back-painted blue glass guards the cooktop, and the countertops are a bluish quartzite. “Quartzite has all the movement of marble but the strength of granite,” says Palumbo. To better mesh the galley with the other spaces, Cutone outfitted the area with drawers instead of cabinets. An ample pantry (with a blue-painted barn door) handles most of the storage.

The blue thread Palumbo masterfully weaves throughout is a subtle reminder of the nearby water. But there are other coastal prompts as well. In the living room, the flat-weave rug, upholstery, and bi-level coffee table are all varying shades of sand. A wood and resin end table suggests driftwood, and the console sports a gray shagreen-wrapped top.

Because continuity soothes the eye, the theme is identical upstairs. The parents’ sanctuary is almost luminous in its neutrality, but Palumbo revs it up visually with an endearing ottoman sporting a shaggy dog–like cotton coat, a hide and silver-
metallic rug, and linen drapes with a slight pucker that, according to Palumbo, “breathe texture.” The soft, airy ambience drifts right into the bath aided by a vanity Cutone designed to float above the oak floor.

The boys’ rooms have been given a touch more masculinity, still with plenty of blue. A navy coverlet strikes a nautical note in the oldest son’s lair, where the bed is framed with shiplapped white oak. A gray stain between the boards—just as on the shiplapped hearth—lends depth. The two younger boys’ beds rest foot to foot with a privacy wall in between. As Gamberoni sees it, this carefully crafted wall that doesn’t meet the ceiling is a fun feature. “I had a lot of brothers and I’m also a father. I like to imagine the boys climbing over it,” he says with delight. “The whole time we were working here, we were conscious that the owners were really intent on sharing this place. It made it a special project.”
Indeed, stop by any afternoon and chances are there will be kids throwing a Frisbee on the lawn, swimmers in the pool, and something sizzling on the grill. With help from Nantucket Heritage Landscapes, the wife has ushered in a sumptuous array of island-suitable plants and flowers. Their myriad colors and shapes—the tall grasses billowing like waves in the wind—create an ideal frame for family gatherings now and for many sweet summers ahead. •
Architecture: Mark Cutone, BPC Architecture + Interior Design
Interior design: Jennifer Palumbo, Jennifer Palumbo Interior Design
Builder: Joe Gamberoni, Cross Rip Builders
Landscape design and installation: Nantucket Heritage Landscapes

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