Designer Trudy Dujardin brings a Nantucket dream home to life

A family-style beach house is transformed into the perfect in-town perch. The traditional six-bedroom shingle-style cottage was one of three being built in a highly sought-after neighborhood that’s just a fifteen-minute walk to town.

When a young Manhattan-based couple decided to
build their dream beach house on Nantucket, they asked designer Trudy Dujardin to bring their vision to life. “We didn’t want a precious house or a jewel box, but one we can live in and have fun in as a family,” says the wife, who has been coming to the island since her college days in Boston. Equally important, the couple wanted someone with a foot in Nantucket and a foot in New York City. “We knew we needed someone with local ties who could help us navigate the building process and meet me at the D&D building.”

With offices in Westport and Nantucket and numerous island projects under her belt (including the recent renovation of the historic Union Street Inn), Dujardin and her senior designer, Price Connors, were the logical choice. “Trudy understands us,” the wife says. “She’s environmentally conscious and has wonderful taste.”

The house in question—a traditional six-bedroom shingle-style cottage—was one of three being built by a developer in a highly sought-after neighborhood. Located above town, parts of the pretty coastal area have sweeping views of Nantucket Sound. It’s also centrally located—a fifteen-minute walk to town, five minutes to the bike path and beach. That was important to the homeowners, who have two teenage daughters and like to entertain frequently.

Because it was a spec house, there wasn’t much latitude when it came to the layout. The finishes and furnishings, however, were a completely different story. “We were able to customize it from the studs up,” Dujardin says. Among the exquisite details: the wood floor in the entry hall, with its hand-painted Harlequin pattern, blue cobalt accent squares and nautical rope border, the faux grass-cloth painted walls in the husband’s office and the custom built-ins and mahogany topped cabinets, which Connors designed.

To make the most of the island setting, Dujardin kept the palette crisp and clean throughout. Hardwood floors are covered with neutral area rugs—some of them handwoven. Most of the walls are painted white or ivory with bright white trim. Blue and Hermès orange—the client’s favorite hue—provide pops of color. Furnishings and accessories are a mix of antique and modern. “The client was very taken with the idea of vintage,” says Connors. Many of the pieces, such as the blue-and-white china stool and the wall barometer in the living room are family heirlooms. Others, such as the rattan-wrapped dresser and table in the foyer, are meant to evoke the Breakers in Palm Beach, circa 1950s.

Privacy is always an issue in this area, where houses are close together. Dujardin designed wooden blinds for the kitchen windows, which she softened with linen valances. An oriental influence carries into the dining room, where a rare print by Andrew Shunney hangs above a rattan bar cart, and a pagoda-shaped tole chandelier centers above the glass dining table. Gothic-backed rattan dining chairs add a classic touch.

Perhaps no room encapsulates the breezy ambience more than the living room with its high, coffered ceiling, which Dujardin painted a pale blue. The sofa and sweater-weave rattan club chairs are elegant but comfortable and—most important—spill-proof. “We used indoor/outdoor fabrics everywhere,” says Dujardin. “We had to be practical. When the house is full, it’s like running an inn.”

Adds the wife, “I love that when we are gathered here at the end of the day, we don’t have to worry about the red wine, the tapenade or the bluefish pâté.”

click for a gallery view of images of this family-style beach house