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West Coast Style Meets Katama Views
How One Family Created an Island Retreat

By Tessa Permar, Photography by Matt Kisiday

There are so many ways to describe the uncanny magic of a week on the Vineyard—rejuvenating, awe-inspiring, restful. Plenty of exquisite properties in Katama are designed to capture that Vineyard experience for a single family or homeowner. But the team at Carpenter & MacNeille Architects and Builders designed this unique Katama home to be shared. Nestled between the two forks in Katama Plains, one of New England’s oldest and most unique habitats, this recently renovated home was purchased and designed during the first year and a half of the pandemic. Despite logistical challenges, the home was transformed into a space where multigenerational families could experience the inspiration and rejuvenation of a week on Martha’s Vineyard.

Before purchasing this home, the Boston area residents made frequent visits to the Vineyard, often staying in Edgartown and Katama. “They are passionate about the Island itself and the energy it gives them,” recalls Rebecca Booma, marketing consultant for Carpenter & MacNeille who spoke with the homeowners about their love of the area. When the property went up for sale in November of 2020, they purchased it and reached out to Head of Interior Design at Carpenter & MacNeille Anne T. Alberts who had designed their first home on the North Shore.

Carpenter & MacNeille is a Massachusetts-based company that provides services in architecture, construction, interior design, woodworking, and property management across New England, including the Cape and Islands. For their second home in Katama, the homeowners employed the trusted interior design team, led by Alberts, to completely redesign the home while maintaining the original architecture. “Their home in Gloucester is quite traditional,” explains Alberts. “We wanted something a little more contemporary and fun–a bit of a departure from their current home.” The homeowners also reached out to Gery Conover of Island-based Conover Restorations who provided long-established connections with the Vineyard trades. The collaboration between local and off-Island teams, which is important on any project, proved to be invaluable when meeting the challenges of renovating during the pandemic.

Built in the 1980’s, the home was originally designed, like many in Katama, as an “upside-down” or reverse-living home. This plan places the sleeping quarters on the first floor, while the shared living, cooking, and dining spaces as well as a primary suite are on the second floor. The layout is designed to take advantage of the sprawling grassy fields, water views, and coastal breezes for which Katama is known and loved. Alberts shares, “The goal was to create different spaces that all can enjoy…so parents could be entertaining upstairs, kids could be downstairs, and then everyone has their own sleeping quarters. On top of it, you’re a quick jaunt to the beach or a bike ride into town.” While not directly on the water, the location of this house provides access to both South Beach entrances, the beautiful farmland in Katama, as well as restaurants and shopping in downtown Edgartown.

The goal of the homeowners with their second property was not only to create an oasis for their family for holidays or long weekends, but to share the Vineyard experience with others. They tasked Alberts with creating a space that welcomes and inspires guests of all ages and interests. These goals shaped everything from the overall design aesthetic to each fixture and finish.

Eschewing a predictable nautical theme, Alberts and the homeowners wanted a more contemporary feel, with some splashes of fun. “Easy but intentional” was the desired impact. Alberts was inspired by a West Coast aesthetic which she mixed thoughtfully with a coastal design. “We didn’t want ships and anchors; we wanted a different vibe…It’s got a little west coast undertone to it, which is contemporary and sleek,” explains Alberts. West Coast design often takes influence from the surroundings, using neutral colors and a limited palette. Alberts’ design plays with a mix of textures like natural wood grain and polished finishes to create spaces that are contemporary, breezy, and clean. Natural oak floors emphasize the beautiful wood grain, while polished ceramic tiles in the bathroom contribute to a serene and spacious aesthetic. Alberts also employed a mixture of textures and finishes with the furniture, drawing inspiration from the environment. Some tables are roughly textured, highlighting the natural wood grain, while other tables and dressers are slick metal or have a lacquered painted finish. Incorporating these contrasting textures results in an overall design that’s eye-catching and contemporary, yet also feels right at home amidst the coastal farmlands of Katama.

Access to the natural light and grassland views was essential in this home. To take advantage of the stunning exterior views, the team reconfigured the kitchen and dining space to create an open floor plan. They removed a kitchen wall and added doors allowing for unobstructed outdoor views through the large windows. This resulted in a kitchen that seamlessly connects with the new great room, beautifully completed with all new interior finishes. Another feature added during the renovation is a wrap-around porch that encircles the entire home. Alberts replaced some existing windows with doors in order to provide easy indoor-outdoor access from the shared living spaces.

In the sleeping quarters, Alberts further capitalized on the views by adding minimally dressed windows. “In the bedrooms, we wanted big windows for light and views, with full room-darkening shades or curtains for sleeping,” she explains. While the structure of the house–sleeping quarters on the first floor–and the luxuriously thick curtains provide space for a truly restful sleep, it’s the new open floor plan, wrap-around porch, thoughtfully placed doors, and vast windows that make for a breathtaking experience in the shared kitchen, dining, and living spaces. Rebecca Booma recalls, “From the second floor, the expansive field is the most captivating view. It’s stunning the way the tall grasses move; when the wind blows, it’s really beautiful.”

Alberts masterfully paired the clean millwork, framework, and layout with pops of verve. The vibrant powder room wallpaper contrasts playfully with a soothing pale-turquoise subway tile in the ensuite bathroom. “It’s a fun little jewel box of a room,” Alberts recalls. Another hub was the kitchen and dining area. “The homeowners wanted to easily entertain numbers of people around a large kitchen island,” which comfortably seats six while providing standing room against new kitchen cabinets and stainless-steel appliances.

In addition to ample shared living space, the homeowners and designers gave special attention to the sleeping quarters. Alberts explains, “The thought was that this would be a multigenerational rental. So that grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, and maybe some other siblings with their children could stay there comfortably for a week or two.” Sleeping quarters include the primary owner’s suite with a king bed, a secondary bedroom also with a king bed, a bunk room with a queen and bunk beds, as well as a small kids’ room with a pair of bunk beds. One of the sofas also converts to a pull-out bed. Beyond these bedrooms, there is a private studio space over the garage designed especially with grandparents in mind. This suite features bright angled ceilings, a king bed, and a private bathroom. It connects to the rest of the house through the full-length, second-floor deck which wraps the entire home.

The deck is yet another distinct feature that serves to bring the outdoors in, and vice versa. If the youngsters get tired of playing indoors, this property offers limitless space for activity outdoors. Alberts shares, “There’s a new in-ground pool and a sports court with tennis, basketball, pickleball all available. There’s also a big green space for the kids to play and whole family to enjoy.” The unique sports court was inspired by the homeowner’s three boys who play on the same court at their primary home. And of course, there is the three miles of beautiful South Beach just minutes away.

While the home is designed to evoke the ease of summer vacation, the process of completing this project was anything but. Every project on Martha’s Vineyard faces the difficulties of transporting goods by sea. Factor in the restrictions and shortages of the pandemic, and you have major logistical hurdles.

“Designing everything virtually with availability restrictions was a huge challenge,” says Alberts. Working with Conover’s team to coordinate the plumbing, electricians, tilers, painters, and other trades was key. Alberts scoped out in-stock construction finishes and furniture, instituted bulk transports of furniture to the Vineyard, and visited the property regularly to ensure as smooth a workflow as possible. Despite various obstacles, Alberts and her team managed to complete the project in one year so that the homeowners could start renting the home in the summer of 2021.

Even with the challenges of the pandemic, the homeowners were able to successfully rent the property and share their joy of the Vineyard with others. Rebecca Booma explains, “I get it because I grew up going to the Vineyard, it’s just a different and amazing energy down there. It’s hard to describe it to people.” As the homeowners of this exquisite Katama property know well, it’s something you just have to experience.

To find out more about Carpenter & MacNeille, click:, e-mail:
In Essex, MA: 978 768-7900
In Wellesley, MA: 781 694-4044
Instagram: @carpentermacneille