The Charm of an English Country-Style Cottage -June 2015

by: Leslie Linsley

photography by: Terry Pommett

LIVING SMALL, as typified by cottage living, has become a responsible, chic, innovative and practical wave of the immediate future, not only on Nantucket, but throughout the country.

Many homeowners are rethinking their needs in regard to space, opting for more quality and less quantity of square-footage.

A small home is one that can be infused with special details and designed to accommodate the lifestyle of its occupants. Neither size nor volume has anything to do with style and comfort.

There are many charming spaces in and around town and when we stumble upon them, it is always a surprise. Some of these little cottages are used strictly in the summertime. They have been designed and furnished for vacation living. But many are year-round, permanent homes and are furnished with acquired collections that exude comfort and warmth and the personality of the family that who there. They are designed for all seasons.

Just down a cobbled dead-end lane is an early home that was converted, over 20 years ago, into several apartments, each with its own personality and quirkiness suited to the building. On the ground floor just below street level is one such corner apartment consisting of just three rooms. And while it is an apartment, it has the look and feel of a stand-alone cottage with its stone façade and blue-trimmed cottage windows surrounded by trellises abundant with climbing roses. Little brick pathways, uneven stone steps and pocket gardens packed tightly with flowering plants contribute to its cottage-like exterior.

The interior exudes the same kind of charm. The architectural details, original wooden beams, worn brick walls and polished wood floors are all borrowed from cottage style. But while many small cottages might feel closed-in and dark, the windows on three sides of the structure provide light throughout the rooms even on a cloudy day.

Every square inch of the small space has been designed for efficiency without sacrificing warmth, comfort and style. The décor has been carefully utilized to incorporate all of the couple’s collections and artwork and the things they love.

“When you’ve lived on boats,” explains the homeowner, Pat David, “you learn how to conserve space.”

She and her Welsh husband, Jeromy, live in this three-room home a stone’s throw from Main Street. Located on one of the highest points in town the property is completely surrounded by mature trees that rise from the banks below, creating a green oasis. The kitchen and bedroom open out onto typical English-style gardens. In fact, if you stumbled onto this “cottage” in the countryside of England, perhaps in the Cotswolds, you wouldn’t be surprised.

Nantucket residents are passionate about their gardens. Some are small, intown, pocket gardens, while others are border gardens seen along picket fences. Some are formal, others more uninhibited, depending on the site and the gardener. But the most charming gardens all over the island are those resembling a typical cottage garden that looks as though it just grew up on its own, a little jaunty and carefree.

The gardens around this property, tended by Pat, exude a casualness that comes from knowing exactly what should be where. It all looks so natural and informal and integrated exquisitely, as though it has always been this way. It seems to have sprouted effortlessly, although this is exactly the way it was conceived.

The owners, she the caretaker for Old North Wharf cottages and he with a caretaking business overseeing Nantucket’s premiere houses enjoy perfecting their nest as well as offshore excursions on one of their boats, when time allows.

According to the owners, when they bought this place over 20 years ago, it was in terrible condition. They had to gut and rebuild most of it, giving them the opportunity to make it their own. Today it is ship-shape with all sorts of clever cubbies and closets for storage, just as they have outfitted their boats for compact living. The architectural charm of the place is intact with modern lighting and new walls, a bathroom complete with washer and dryer, and windows that look out on the natural beauty that surrounds them. At this elevation it feels as though the building is a tree house. ///

Leslie Linsley is a nationally-known author on decor and design. She is a regular contributor to Nantucket Today.

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