A Touch of Provence in Quidnet -July 2015
by: Lisa Clair
photography by: Terry Pommett
There are many houses in our lives, some in places we will never forget.
What we remember is often a mix of landscape, memories and people who lived there with us. Or perhaps it’s simply the way the sunlight falls in the morning, or the scent of the breeze when it lifts from the sea at night.
Creating an island home that is partly a reminiscence of other places, and partly a celebration of Nantucket, is an exhilarating challenge for an interior designer, especially one who has spent most of her life on the island, and has created dozens of unique island homes.
For Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP + ID + C, and Price Connors, of Dujardin Design Associates, the challenge in this house was to reinterpret the beachside home and make it new again for a family with lives on both coasts. The homeowners have roots in California and in Boston, and a deep love for Europe, especially the abundant sunshine of Provence. What Dujardin Design ultimately created was a graceful marriage of the family’s best-loved places, a blending of European treasures with an American island aesthetic.
The quintessential gray-shingled, white-trimmed house is paired with a garden so lush with lavender that the bees arriving each morning for their dram of pollen might wonder where they are. The beautiful landscaping, installed by Oehme van Sweden, whisks visitors from Nantucket to Provence, even as the stone steps to the white wooden door and the ship-worthy quarterboard bring them back to the island.
Inside, dark wood floors are a striking contrast to the clean white walls of the living space. Old and new are juxtaposed, as are dark and light, throughout the house. Traditional architecture and trim blend easily with open spaces that feel very contemporary, just as classical furniture holds its own with works by present-day artists.
“We chose the color palette – blue, white and gold – as much for the Nantucket seaside as for the French countryside,” Dujardin said. “The home evokes the soft hues of the shores of Sesachacha Pond as well as a “jardin a la Française.”
The living room’s ocean-blue custom wool rugs, designed by Dujardin and made by Elizabeth Eakins, have Provence-inspired borders. A floating staircase visible from the room is a marvel of engineering, a sculptural element completed by Stephen C. Theroux of Nantucket Architecture Group. German-American artist Wolf Kahn’s painting over the mantel illuminates
with bold color. The otherwise tranquil space soothes in shades of blue and oyster-shell. Even the smallest details are well-thought-out here, including the Dujardin-designed custom fireplace screen, and the Loro Piana cashmere-linen fabric on the sofa.
Opposites continue side by side in the living room, with one black lampshade bookended with one in white. The lamps mirror the black-and-white framed engravings by American painter and muralist Thomas Hart Benton, who summered for 50 years on Martha’s Vineyard (the other island off Cape Cod), giving him a unique perspective on Northeastern island life. The unusual cocktail table is an adaptation of an 18th century library table, with two ends that pull out.
Dark and light are paired again in the dining room, with black painted Windsor chairs a harmonious contrast to the lighter wood of the American farmhouse table, covered with an antique Belgian table-runner. Overhead hang two contemporary light fixtures, modern versions of the traditional 19th century Colonial “smoke bells,” designed to keep candles from blowing out and smoke from marking the ceiling.
The side-table lamps are made from 19th century wrought-iron balustrades from Paris, another French touch. The wall-carving created by Nantucket master woodcarver Paul McCarthy, “Ahab and the Whale,” honors the family’s love of boating together. The harpoon carved into the frame is a nod to the rich whaling history of Nantucket.
In the kitchen, white-painted cabinets are the counterpoint to dark soapstone counters, the dark wooden top of the center island and the black painted stools. Framed menus from the Chanticleer restaurant hang in the kitchen, an iconic marriage of one of Nantucket’s best-loved restaurants with love of French cuisine. A charming collection of European pottery, including French and Italian pieces, warms the space with more rustic, age-old artistry.
“The contemporary take on traditional architecture, the mix of old and new, and the high quality of the artwork provides a strong foundation for the design of a home with distinctive style,” said Connors, Dujardin Design’s senior designer. “Using unusual materials for lamps, balustrades from Paris, for instance, elevates even the most functional items into art.”
The master bedroom features another pair of wrought-iron, 19th century balustrade lamps. From the room’s French doors, there is a scenic view of Polpis Harbor. The garden outside is recalled with a chest hand-painted in a graceful leaf pattern. Custommade boudoir pillows, delicately embroidered in wool yarn crewel work, subtly continue the floral theme, as does the bed made with bespoke linens, designed and made for the house by Dujardin Design. Footsteps are softened in this gentle space with a custom Elizabeth Eakins hand-tufted rug on the wood floor.
Even the more casual television room features provocative contemporary artwork, while at the same time, is calming in shades of milky white and sea glass. A hand-woven rug in linen and wool is from Elizabeth Eakins. A media room was added for watching movies, with authentic movie posters of the client’s favorite films.
This serene and sheltered place, a renovation of two original buildings, has a distinct character all its own, thanks to the careful mingling of ages and places by Dujardin Design Associates. When the sun sets over the gray-shingled house and shadows darken the lavender garden, it’s easy to remember that Nantucket and the South of France share the same latitude. ///
Lisa Clair is a freelance writer who often writes about home decor and design for Nantucket Today.