Magic in Madaket
At Home with Family and Friends
by: Leslie Linsley
photography by: Terry Pommett
In 1969 Dan and Connie Driscoll came to the island to visit her brother and his young family who had rented a house in town. Like many visitors, they fell in love with the island immediately.
“We loved the environment, the people, the sense of community that was immediately apparent,” Connie said. But it would be many years before the Driscolls would realize the dream of owning a home on Nantucket.
They returned to the island in 1971 with their first-born daughter Kelly, and stayed at the Periwinkle Inn. During that visit they explored the island and all its natural beauty and their desire to live here was rekindled, but it wouldn’t be until 1997 that they finally became island homeowners.
Connie, a decorator, describes herself as a very low-key person and could see herself and Dan, a filmmaker, becoming part of the community. One rainy day she got a call from real-estate agent Juliet Hunter, who said she had just seen a house with a front porch that she knew the Driscolls would love. The house was at the beginning of Madaket Road.
“I took my mother with me to look at it. Dan was out of the country at the time. When I walked into that house I knew this was my dream home,” Connie said. “The exterior was quite simple, but Danny and I saw the potential to make something that, to us, is magical.”
The two-story house is nestled into the property at the end of a long shell driveway. The large lot is surrounded by mature hedges that create privacy for their little piece of heaven, within walking distance of Main Street. Several years after moving in, Connie and Dan took on an extensive renovation with the help of George Pappas. They opened up the first floor to create a large open room to accommodate their interest in cooking and entertaining their ever-expanding group of friends and family.
As an interior designer, and starting with her own home, Connie has developed a unique and personal style.
“We bought the house from Dan Barber, who was wonderful,” she said. “He left us with sofas and beds to get us started and then we continued to decorate over time. I’m never done, but I’ve definitely slowed down.”
Connie’s color scheme is very simple. Her main focus is to highlight the natural beauty around the house. Her taste leans toward white, gray, black, sand and “a pop of yellow or some other color,” she said.
The couple like things orderly in their home so Connie tends to find ways to organize everything.
“I think Danny was the most surprised by how the house ended up. But he’s always such a good sport, going along with my ideas,” she said.
Connie imparts good advice to her clients and anyone decorating for themselves. If you love something, you’ll always find a special place for it, she said.
“I advise clients not to hold on to inherited furniture if it no longer suits their aesthetic,” she said.
Connie grew up in a contemporary home. Dan grew up on the coast of Maine in a beautiful, traditional home. The couple’s tastes seem to merge well and this home is an expression of both their interests.
When they purchased the house, the landscaping was minimal. Dan, an avid gardener, has created an outdoor space that includes the constantly-changing water features that highlight his talent and love for the water. Connie credits the company Wingworks with keeping their outdoor space alive and beautiful.
Over the years, as their family expanded and Dan’s need for workspace grew, they built a garage with office space above for his film and photography business. Dan is enthusiastic about preserving and recording the beauty of the island and has created films for several nonprofits and businesses on Nantucket. He is especially civic-minded, lending a hand to important community concerns such as the housing crisis, addiction issues, trash and recycling.
The couple said their biggest challenge over the years was accommodating their grown children and four grandchildren. Seven years ago, with the help of builder Tyrone Featherly and architect Nathan McMullen, they created “Wee One’s Crib,” described by Connie as a very functional, kidfriendly, two-bedroom cottage on the property. When it’s
empty, Dan and Connie sneak in an occasional “staycation.” Decorating her home has been a labor of love for Connie, who bought most of her furnishings on-island. A lighting fixture found in a shop on Main Street became the focal point of the living room and the beginning of a decorating scheme. Every piece of furniture was chosen because it complemented that fixture. Connie advises others to be inspired by the things they love.
“We want our guests to feel comfortable and relaxed in a visually-exciting environment,” she said.
Her decorating style is defined by her passion for found objects in curiosity shops and flea markets. On a trip to Paris, Connie fell in love with a curtain valance and brought it home to hang from her kitchen ceiling, not for hanging curtains, but for its architectural appeal. A beautiful black and gilded clock face, too large for any wall, is mounted on the ceiling over her dining table.
When asked how they live in the house and which rooms they like best, Connie said that in the winter they love to sit by the fire in the living room and watch the disco ball reflect its lights and enjoy the holiday decorations.
“In the summer we’re always on the back deck basking in the magical space we’ve created,” she added.
“I love how a home tells your story,” she continued. “My story is about my family. Each of my three children got married at our home and each wedding was beautiful and unique, despite the same location. My children are my greatest priority and I am so glad we chose this community to live in, because the people here truly care about each other.”
Leslie Linsley is the author of “Nantucket Island Living.” She is a frequent contributor to Nantucket Today and The Inquirer and Mirror, Nantucket’s newspaper since 1821.