Easy Breezy Beach House -July 2014

by: Lisa Clair

photography by: Terry Pommett

This stylish cottage in Madaket is designed for simplicity.

“...at this stage in my life, I’m more interested in what I call my ‘cottage approach to living’.” Trudy Dujardin
Home to award-winning interior designer Trudy Dujardin and her husband Frank Fasanella, her fifth house on the island is a testament to carefree living, and keeping things simple.

“I’ve had the big houses with room for large family gatherings and lots of guests, I’ve renovated a sea captain’s house with respect for its history down to the last detail, I’ve lived with luxurious fabrics and delicate accessories,” Dujardin said. “Houses like that take a lot of time, and at this stage in my life, I’m more interested in what I call my ‘cottage approach to living.’ I want time to relax and enjoy the spectacular Madaket sunsets with my husband.”

Dujardin achieved her objective by keeping a single goal in mind: that often, less is more. After a quick five-month renovation of the 2,400-square-foot space located a block from the ocean, they moved in to the house of her easy-living dreams.

“I wanted a house I could vacuum in 20 minutes, and be on the beach,” she said with a laugh.

Whether she’s relaxing at the shore or on her shady porch with her three beloved Bichon Frisés, G.G., Tuffy and Ellie, she’s always at home on Nantucket. She fell in love with the island as a little girl when she visited with her parents. Today, she is active in a number of island organizations and fundraisers, and her clean aesthetic and unique approach to “gently green” design can be seen in homes across Nantucket.

Her belief that “a healthy home is the ultimate luxury” is apparent from the moment you step inside. A home meant for relaxation and rejuvenation must not be contaminated with toxic fumes or off-gassing from paint and finishes, Dujardin said. An adjunct professor at Fairfield University, teaching courses in sustainable design, her renovation of the 1965 cottage began with the installation of a state-of-the-art ventilation system. It exchanges clean air with the inside air every 20 minutes.

Each of the warmly-welcoming rooms is also a healthy, sustainable space. In the kitchen, Dujardin retained the existing cherry cabinets – recycling furnishings to keep waste out of the landfills is one of the many ways she keeps it “green” – and repainted them in water-based, non-toxic paint to minimize volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air. The knotty pine floor and beadboard ceilings were left unpainted (difficult for a designer to do) for Dujardin’s husband, who fell in love with the original wood.

“It’s a guy thing,” Dujardin said. “I’ve come to see that he was right. The wood tones add so much warmth to the living room.”

A first-edition Nantucket book collection is shelved on custom wood builtins in the library. Built with solid, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood with no health-damaging formaldehyde, they were crafted by an island carpenter, one of many on-island craftsmen she engages to work on her home and client projects. A Nantucket-based artist created the faux grasscloth walls in the library using non-toxic paints, as imported grasscloth can be treated with potentially-dangerous insecticides.

An extremely rare 19th-century English scrimshaw tortoiseshell is displayed above the fireplace with the mantel whale carving done by another Nantucket artist, the late Jack Flandreau, whose work is featured in the Great Harbor Yacht Club. It’s happily at home with Dujardin’s collection of nautical antiques, including the corkscrew pigtail candlestick, rush light holder and old binoculars on the mantel. On a table nearby is a classic Fred Ely basket from the Dane Gallery, with carved whales on 24-karat gold pegs.

A vintage sailor-boy whirligig, made by Lincoln Ceely, rests on a side table next to a sailboat painting by New England marine artist Peter Quidley. One of Dujardin’s favorite pieces of nautical artwork is the framed “Ship of Bengal,” an 18th-century British woolie. On the 18th-century campaign chest below it, you’ll find a 19th-century “honor” box where candy was kept, and guests were “on their honor” to take only one piece.

Creating a sense of place is important, said Dujardin, whose signature style often includes unusual antiques and collectibles.

“You should feel as though you’re living on an island,” she said.

Jaunty navy slipcovers on the living-room sofas, accented with contrasting white trim and white linen pillows, establish a marine palette. Casual, simple living is especially embraced here with easy-care fabrics, where Fasanella requested a place to relax with his friends. The linen-wrapped cocktail table, custom-made using nontoxic glues and paints, is a sophisticated homage to a similar Karl Springer design, but no one scolds if Fasanella puts his feet up. French doors open from the living room onto the covered porch, the only addition to the home, and from there into the garden, where Sconset Gardener Marty McGowan helped the home blend quietly into its surroundings.

The home feels airy and light, with expanses of white-washed walls and ceilings, all painted with water-based, non-toxic paints. The master bedroom has a dreamy feel, with white-painted walls, pale-blue beadboard ceilings, and soft tones of beach-glass blues and greens in the fabrics. A guest room is more playful, with a collection of vintage tin beach toys from the 1920s to the 1950s on a shelf above the bed, a framed vintage bathing costume from the 1920s, a brightly-colored director’s chair, and a red and blue nautical color scheme.

Custom lighting, much of it with a nautical feel, makes the house shine, night or day. In the dining room, a lantern inspired by an authentic ship captain’s lantern sheds light on a weathered white buffet with a cherry top, custom-made with non-toxic finishes. Resting on top is a collection of vintage hotel silver, including silver sugar shakers and French balloon-handled forks, adding a sparkling touch of romance. A painting by island artist Rose Gonnella repeats the blue and white palette in this tranquil retreat, an easy, breezy beach house built for two. ///

Lisa Clair is a freelance writer who often writes about home design and decor.

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