On the exterior, this beachfront Nantucket home looks just the rest of the immaculately preserved shingle-style houses that line the streets and beaches of this charming island-town. However, upon entering the home’s lacquered blue front door, one realizes this is not your average beach house, as it challenges the notion of what coastal living is supposed to look like. While it possesses the fundamental elements of your classic beach house, architectural and interior design firm Bodron/Fruit leaned into the client’s passions rather than into a pastiche of New England coastal style to create a comfortable, inviting home away from home that allows the owner to always be surrounded and comforted by what she loves with killer ocean views as a backdrop.
This project came from a beloved repeat client who is based in the firm’s hometown of Dallas. Sven Fruit, the architectural mind of the team, says she is an important modern art collector who was in need of a place to break from the social implications of big-city life, and she imagined this secondary home as a refuge to rest, enjoy the slow-paced Nantucket lifestyle, and be close to her daughter who was preparing to move to Boston for her first year at Harvard.
The design duo had actually begun working on an entirely different house on another part of the island and was knee-deep in its strict building codes when the client realized she cared more about being able to have a home of her own to visit as soon as possible instead of continuing to rent on the island for several more summers. She and the firm fell in love with the spectacular sea views that this home allotted, and decided to sell the original property. Both Sven Fruit and Mil Bodron could imagine the potential this 1997 house could have with some creativity.
“It definitely looked like a ’90s house with its curved walls, all kinds of niches, and shut-off rooms,” says Fruit. “The whole back of the house lacked views all the way through because of the walls. When I do architecture, whether it’s all-new or renovation, I always study the context, which here was this floor plan and how we could make it feel more comfortable than it did. Most of the big ideas came from opening it up and maximizing the feel of the home because it just felt closed off to itself.”
Bodron, the interior design brains of the operation, says they were inspired to focus more on creating spaces instead of rooms, allowing that notion, and the need for ocean views in as many spaces as possible, guide the way. While wall after wall was knocked down to create a more open, livable, and light-drenched home, the pair utilized bronze and glass pocket doors to allow a given space to be closed off and assume its own identity when desired. Bodron says installing these pocket sliding doors was especially important in the home’s library, which also houses a piano and a small office space, creating better acoustics along with peace and quiet as needed.
“A lot of our interiors inspiration came from a need to solve the problems of twisted spaces and how one should move through the house,” says Bodron. “From a design aspect, the beginning of the interiors was addressing the rugs.” An unlikely source of inspiration was found in a new rug collection from Tai Ping that featured soft, pastel colors with geometric compositions, one design, in particular, featuring an intersection of two rectangles.
“We used the rugs architecturally to solve our problem of curved spaces, beginning in the living room,” says Bodron. “[Tai Ping] re-did the rug for us where one of the rectangles was twisted the same way that the bay windows were to fill that space, and we ended up using the same rug in the library. Plus, the light peach, sandy, and turquoise colors lent themselves so well to Nantucket and the windows in the living room being on the ocean. That really set the tone for how we approached furniture plans as well as the direction of the home.”
Fruit notes that while it was important for the home to have a sense of place, it was equally as important to not decorate in a way to fit some local aesthetic. While the exterior remained close to its original design, the main priority being the addition of more windows, the interiors of the home lean into the client’s discerning eye for collecting art and Nordic furniture, along with her desire for a calming and restful home, the dining room being a prime example.
“The dining room features a wonderful vintage Finn Juhl table and settee in the bay window, and the dining chairs were consciously not the typical wood or rush seating that fit the Nantucket look,” says Bodron. “The client didn’t want to do a traditional blue room or ceiling, but we took these Bruno Moinard chairs and lacquered them in a dark blue with matching seats as our nod to Nantucket.”
While the home’s interiors don’t subscribe to the traditional aesthetic and could as easily feel right at home in the middle of Stockholm or Oslo, at the same time, it feels delightfully at home inside a Shingle-style house on the sea. The home offers all the luxuries of a beachfront manse and its interiors are soothing, inspiring, and welcoming, beckoning guests (and the owner) to kick up their feet and stay awhile in this chic, coastal abode that offers all the beloved comforts of home without the fast-paced lifestyle.
“There’s something really comfortable and special about relaxing in the kitchen and breakfast nook especially,” says Bodron. “Everyone can hang out on the backside of the island or at the banquette with the bay windows and both enjoy the light streaming in as you drink your coffee and read magazines.” While the first floor is open and filled with generously sized rooms, the three-story home also has a guest suite above the garage, plenty of cozy sitting areas on the second floor, and a Thomas Jefferson-style alcove bedroom on the top floor for anyone seeking a quiet escape to catch up on a good book or take a catnap.
Fruit says landscape designer Michael van Valkenburgh did a fantastic job with all of the restraints of having a Nantucket house on the dunes. His work makes the home feel as if it’s always been there, growing amongst the native flora. Fruit notes there is something so special about the quality of the light in this destination that flows into nearly every room (all thanks to his redesign), and it acts as a perfect finishing touch, bringing the most desirable part of Nantucket into each well-collected space.
Do you love Nantucket’s architecture as much as we do? Join us in person (or virtually), August 5-7, for the Nantucket Historical Association’s premier summer fundraiser, celebrating the island’s unique influence on American design with engaging keynote speakers including award-winning interior designer Nate Berkus, design discussions, The Nantucket Summer Antiques Show, a design panel, and more! Purchase leadership tickets today.
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