Inside the Modern Nantucket Home of an Architect
Nantucket is an affluent zip code off the coast of Massachusetts known for its quintessentially New England charm, picture-perfect landscapes, and large shingled family compounds. During summer months, families flock to the picturesque island for sun-filled fun. Modern design probably isn't what you'd expect to find while strolling along the pebbled roads accented with hydrangeas, white picket fences, and beach cruisers—their building regulations are, in fact, quite strict. But while the locale is known for its preppy and nautical tendencies, one architect made it his mission to build a modern home for his extended family to enjoy while staying true to the surrounding landscape.
Andrew Kotchen, principal at Workshop APD, has been summering on Nantucket most of his life. Now with a family of his own, the island has become a place where he can enjoy time with his sister and her family with everyone under one roof. This is exactly what he envisioned when he built the Blackfish Lane home near the town of Siasconset. His main priority: drawing from the surrounding landscape to create a modern home that would accommodate multiple families. We chatted with the architect about the spacious summer home; take the tour to keep summer alive just a little bit longer.
"The home was designed with the idea that this space would be used as an extended family home," explains Kotchen, who based the home's design on his own family experience. "My family and my sister's family both spend extended time on the island together. This house was designed to bring that multigenerational or group vacation home under one roof," he added.
"Aesthetically, overall the goal was to create a modern interpretation of a beach home using layered textures, pattern, and color," explains the architect. "When designing the living room, we knew the space would be the main communal space of the home. Because of this, we wanted it to be a bit more dramatic and impressive than the other rooms."
Kotchen and his team added a vaulted ceiling created with exposed white oak beams and a custom plaster finish. The towering fireplace would serve as the main focal point. "For the furniture, we choose to stay within a cool blue palette complemented with three identical prints from John Robshaw."
The architect chose the kitchen and bathroom finishes because of their durability and simplicity. "The team wanted spaces that looked clean, fresh, and modern," he says. "The kitchen combines Ann Sacks tiles as well as stained white oak floors."
"The kitchen is always where people end up congregating," says Kotchen. "For this reason, we designed it to be as open and accessible as possible. We carried the oak wood beams from the living room into the space and chose finishes that complemented the other living spaces." The kitchen island was built to be extra large to accommodate the big family.
"In all of our resort homes, we focus on creating dining spaces that can be dressed up and down," says Kotchen. "Due to the proximity to the pool, we knew that the space needed to be able to handle a damp bathing suit and also be able to host a more formal dinner party. The salvaged wood and concrete table from Restoration Hardware we used is great for durability and anchors the space nicely." The architect's favorite thing in the whole house? The dining room lighting: "We were really excited to find the light fixtures from Anthropologie hanging above the dining table."
In the staircase, which is the first thing people see when entering the house, the team at Workshop APD installed a climbing art installation using barnacles. "We found the barnacles years ago and just didn't have a project where they fit," says Kotchen. "We were thrilled that this installation complemented the architectural reveals in the wall and added an organic element to the wall behind the staircase."
To accommodate the large family, two master suites are located at opposite sides of the home. "The first-floor master bedroom was designed with an older couple in mind," explains Kotchen. "Not only is this space private, it also includes a private study with sofa and large closet." To keep in line with the theme of the house, shades of blue and light wood tones were used throughout to replicate the beach and surrounding landscape.
The second-floor master bedroom was envisioned as a space where a family with young children could stay. "The goal with this space was to create a serene room that took advantage of the second-floor view, as well as highlight many architectural details that make this home truly unique," explains the architect.
"My design philosophy is rooted in the belief that a well-designed home fosters clean, modern living," says Kotchen. "The firm's style highlights natural and local materials and integration of indoor and outdoor elements. Our design decisions are informed by the environment of the project sites, thus enabling us to apply our process to a variety of typologies and geographies."
On the picturesque island of Nantucket, it's clear that the color scheme was informed by the surrounding beach landscape, coastal greenery, and shingle homes beyond. Discreet nautical accents were brought in through small accessories like rope-wrapped hooks.
"Without a doubt, the best part of the home is its open-floor plan and access to the pool," says Kotchen. "All spaces within the main living area open up to themselves and look out on to the pool." While the team tries to steer clear from the expected "beach home" aesthetic, they use the colors and tones of the surrounding landscape to help guide the color schemes and atmosphere of the space. With Nantucket as a backdrop, it's unsurprising that this home turned out beautifully.