Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer in Nantucket

It is beautiful weather in upstate New York today - real summer weather, and nothing says summer like time spent in Nantucket.  To me, Nantucket speaks of blue hydrangeas, shingle houses, the sea, lighthouses, dinners outside and Hugh Newell Jacobsen.  Why Jacobsen?  Because he designed so many houses on this island, and they are always deliciously cool, serene and uncluttered.  Today we will view a house/barn he again designed with Eugenie Voorhees.

The image below, as you can see is from a July Gourmet.  Again, because I tore this out, I cannot tell you the year, but it so represents summer in Nantucket - a lightship basket, hydrangeas and a shingle house - that I had to include it.

The ferry which brings most visitors and islanders to the landing near Brant Point Light.
Nantucket, Images of the Island, by John Buck
Below, an image of the architect himself - Hugh Newell Jacobsen.  It is taken from his firm's website, Jacobsen Architects (as are most of the ones that follow unless indicated otherwise.)

Above, we see the exterior of the Voorhees barn/house with its deep blue colored door and shutter.

Like so many of Jacobsen's houses, the exterior of this one is as spare as its interiors.  In the rear of the house, simply a mass of daffodils and a beautiful patio.  Again,  love the color of barn doors and the off-sided shutter to remind us of the home's origins.

For so many of us following Loi Thai, note the simple topiary - perfect.

A peak into the living room. On the wall an architectural rendering of this home.

View from the living room looking the opposite way toward the dining room.

Full view of living room with those lovely, simple shutters, and white fireplace of painted brick.

The idea of a book-lined dining room makes so much sense.  When not being used for dining, it can double as a library with a large reading table, and when acting as a dining room, it has interesting walls for guests to peruse.  Note the bookcases are all the egg carton pattern with books close to the edges.
(This is only my humble opinion, but why to people cover their books in white slipcases?  So much more interesting to see titles on the spines.)

Same dining room, different centerpiece sans apples.  Do you like the white floors?

Dining room again, this time showing the stairway to second floor.

Two iconic summer foods - pink watermelon and red tomatoes really stand out in this very white kitchen.

Top of the staircase, looking into master bedroom.  The wall reaches only partly to the ceiling revealing the peaked ceiling, again hinting at the house's barn origins.

More bookcases in the bedroom - a woman after my own heart.

Guest room with its high "barn" window.
What do you think?  Isn't this home a dream?  (I only wish when I have my fantasy house on Nantucket
I can keep it this spare and uncluttered!)

Now to a little discussion of Nantucket lightship baskets.  Most people know these baskets are indigenous to Nantucket and have very distinctive characteristics: they are made of rattan, have wooden bottoms and are made with a mold.  Today antique lightship baskets fetch enormous prices, and even new ones can be pricey.

A nest of antique lightship baskets as seen in Nantucket Lightship Baskets, by Katherine and Edgar Seeler.

From the same book, an image of two Nantucket handbags by Jose Reyes.

Knowing, my love of these baskets, my husband (author of the "chrome peanut") bought me one in 1986.  I remember him saying it would have to be a Christmas, birthday and anniversary present.  I still love it today, and carry it on special summer occasions.
I would have preferred a clam or whale on top, but he loved ships, so I kept and loved what he selected (but I would have loved a clam more.)

He even had my name and date inscribed.  Because my husband died of cancer ten years ago, this gift has taken on a huge significance today (but his gift of laughter was his greatest one.)

Another visit to Nantucket, I had to have this very large basket which now holds my clivia plant in the living room.  (Usually, the clivia goes outside for a little R&R during the summer, and all my small baskets hide away inside this one for a sparer, summer look, but have not gotten to it yet.)

My smaller basket collection (which should be in that large one) atop the highboy.  The tiny one once had a handle, but the cat jumped up here, pushed the basket off and into the mouth of our golden retriever.  I could have just cried when I saw the handle chewed off, but had to laugh when I saw the dog's proud demeanor when presenting it to me.

And lastly, an image from The Nantucket Table, by Susan Simon focusing on dinner on the beach - something we might all like to do this beautiful summer evening.

Hope I didn't get too sentimental in this post.  Onto  happier times in Nantucket next time, dear reader.  Right now, it's into the pool for this blogger.


  1. Just wonderful, Billie. I love the quote "deliciously cool, serene and uncluttered." That is my ideal interior, and these are wonderful. If I didn't have two dogs I would paint the floors in our summer cottage white.

    Your basket is truly beautiful. I think your husband must have been a good man.


  2. Dear Billie,
    That is also a dream house to me! But oh dear, how to keep it that way when you have a dog!! Haha! Anyway, I just love it!! The sitting room with the white sofas is so beautiful and serene! And the master bedroom! Love love love the white bedlinen in summer!
    Is that picture with the baskets on top of the cabinet in your home? What a beautiful basket your husband gave to you! Billie, I am so sorry about your husband! I didn't know he passed away! As Phyllis said, he must have been a good man! I am sure!!
    Thank you for another wonderful post my friend!

  3. Hi Billie - Remember us both saying we each needed 5 homes? Make that 6 for me, please! I want one designed by Jacobsen :-) Instead of books, I might fill those egg crate cubbies with ironstone china (Jacobsen would disapprove). Thanks for sharing your lovely basket collection with us. I have always wanted a lightship basket collection---maybe for the future seaside cottage?? Good to dream ;) The basket from your husband is beautiful. Be sure to keep the kitty and doggie away from that! Thanks for the mention, friend. Have a wonderful week ~

  4. It was nice being teleported to Nantucket for a few brief minutes. Thanks for a great tour. I got some ideas for my own cottage.

  5. Such a lovely post, Billie. My husband and I visited Nantucket many times and it is a favorite. I love baskets too. Fortunately, my dog isn't interested. The lightship basket from your husband is a treasure. My husband was very fond of surprising me with gifts. Now I value them for the memories they evoke.