Old Meets New on Milk Street -July 2007

Renovations of 200-year-old classic of architecture

by: Joshua H. Balling

photography by: Jeffrey Allen

The modest white wooden gate on Vestal Street gives few clues to the tranquil oasis beyond.

Set among shoulder-high, vibrant green hedges, it opens just around the corner from Milk Street to a spacious yard, uncommon in this part of town and understated in its classic elegance.

The perfectly-manicured lawn is set with granite paving stones that lead the way to a brick patio and slightly-raised wooden deck, potted plants overflowing with flowers artfully arrayed on its shallow steps. The almost Zen-like way all the elements – earth, brick, stone and wood – combine is a fitting introduction to the house itself, whose appearance cleverly masks the two years of extensive renovation and construction done to restore its historic charm while adding modern convenience and style.

The work was a collaboration between Amos Construction, the Nantucket Architecture Group and interior designer Donna Elle, and it is immediately clear that all three were on exactly the same page when it came to translating the desires of the home’s owners – a young couple with two young boys and a large extended family who spend most of the year in Russia – into reality.

Ostentation is not a word anyone would associate with the understated elegance, style and superior craftsmanship of this house. Relaxed comfort is a much more appropriate description.

Despite all the work – raising the foundation to shore up the structure and create a whole separate level of living space beneath ground level – the footprint of the house remains largely unchanged, although some of the rooms on the first level were opened up to gain more space and a pantry and mudroom were added. Observed from Milk Street, its classic, 200-year-old architecture and clean, stylish lines allow it to blend seamlessly into its surroundings.

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