Nantucket has a certain visual cachet: picture-perfect hydrangeas woven into picket fences, interiors swathed in bold maritime stripes, Baroque furniture paired with white wicker and stained glass. There’s no arguing that the island has charm in spades. Imaginative takes on the traditional? Not as much—until a few weeks ago.
Last month hotelier Rami Zeidan opened his newest Life House property in an 1870 Federal-style mansion (once an inn) on Nantucket, infusing a fresh energy into New England’s favorite seaside town. In partnership with his vice president of design, Jenny Bukovec, the pair introduced a truly new nautical. One that is moodier and more eclectic, with the usual oceanic color palette of seafoam greens and sky blues nowhere to be found and replaced by edgier jewel tones.
With temperatures starting to drop and sunsets creeping ever earlier, incorporating Life House’s modern, eternal summer vibes at home is a must. Below, Bukovec reveals how to achieve the new nautical in any space.
Bring Moldings to the Dark Side
“Don’t be scared to add a little contrast through an unexpected hue: warm charcoal, dusty jade, beach blossom plum,” says Bukovec, who used the three shades on the trim to highlight the hotel’s subtle textures, like the raffia wall covering on the living room ceiling, handwoven coastal grass fiber headboards, and floral ceramic tiles in the rain showers. “Dark colors have the power to draw the eye.”
Trade Stripes for Florals
While Bukovec loves a good stripe, the addition of playful botanical upholstery, artwork, and even light fixtures ensures the space doesn’t feel homogenous. “Botanical patterns bring an element of ease and delight to a space,” she says, “just like the role of a flower in nature.” Her one caveat: Floral prints can read trendy. “Choosing locally rooted flora ensures it’s intentional and timeless versus random, which will become dated quickly.” When it comes to stripes, give the classic motif a creative twist—and use it in moderation. “Here, we used modern stripes via a two-tone creme sheer drapery fabric throughout the living room versus on the furniture itself,” she explains.
Leave Rattan Pieces Au Naturel
Both the hotel’s interiors and gardens play with natural rattan pieces and handwoven sisal fibers in lieu of the more typical white wicker furniture. “We pulled palette cues from gorgeous natural driftwood, which brings a nonchalance to the outdoor spaces, then brought back the whites through textures: fringed umbrellas or concrete planters,” says Bukovec.
Modernize Wood Paneling With Color
As tempting as it might be, avoid covering original wood paneling with paint—it masks the natural elements inherent in any coastal landscape, Bukovec points out. Instead, she chose to leave the cedar planks in the communal kitchen alone and installed a fish scale–style floor tile in a decidedly non-nautical black. “To ensure it didn’t become too serious,” she adds, “we also layered in mauve countertops, punchy patterns, and photography in vintage frames collected from the previous homeowners to tell the history of the 200-year-old home.”