A Martha's Vineyard Hidden Gem
The Oak Bluffs Modern Farmhouse
By Diane Alter, Photography Armed-Louis Jean
In the heart of Martha’s Vineyard, where the unmistakable rhythm of Island life sails through quaint streets and lush landscapes lies a home that defies the conventional notion of a seasonal residence.
This Oak Bluffs abode pulses with the soul of the Vineyard, embracing the Island’s essence in a symphony of soft colors, timeless textures, and unique elements. Yet this gem is anything but a traditional beach house. Still, inside and out, it is a haven where the spirit of the Vineyard unfolds in every carefully planned detail, painting a portrait of Island living that goes beyond the shores and sands.
The home, and all the details that make it so special, was a collaboration of Martha’s Vineyard businesses and professionals, including interior design by Vineyard Decorators, architecture by Sullivan Associates, landscape design by Second Nature & general contractor Dukes County Builders.
The Interior Design Department at Vineyard Decorators specializes in creating thoughtfully curated, effortlessly cohesive one-of-a-kind homes. Specializing in new construction, renovations, interior architecture, space planning and custom furnishings and decor, the Design Department utilizes a client-first approach to each project, rooted in the unique needs, preferences and lifestyles of their clients.
The clients of this project wanted a timeless, refined and clean aesthetic that still felt reflective of a Vineyard home, explained Sophia Brush Warren, Chief Operating Officer & Creative Director. Paulina Capen, the lead interior designer on the project, achieved this by utilizing a neutral color palette and creating interest with a highly curated blend of materials and finishes in each space. From the patterned tile in the laundry room to the 15-foot-tall draperies in the main room to the mixed metal finishes in the bathrooms to the two-toned kitchen cabinets to the dark millwork, the home captures the natural beauty of its surroundings, an effortless blend of indoor and outdoor living.
The Vineyard Decorators team’s keen understanding of color theory, materials, and textures created a harmonious and visually appealing environment that aligned with the client’s taste and the intended purpose of the home. A soft sophisticated whisper of gray bestows a sense of calm. Tranquil blues emote a breath of fresh air. And understated neutral tones emit warmth and coziness throughout.
The interiors needed to be livable and comfortable to withstand the clients’ Vineyard summer lifestyle, but without sacrificing an elevated aesthetic, Sophia explained. The three fireplaces, including one in the master bedroom, the workout room with sound-absorbing panels, and the wet bar were adult-focused designs. Yet the clients wanted to make sure their children had their own space. An inviting and well-lit game room in the basement ideally served that purpose.
The six-bedroom home sleeps 12, so kids and visitors were another factor in planning. The homeowners wanted to make sure every friend and guest enjoyed the home and not worry about bringing a bit of the island inside, such as water from the beach or pool, or sandy feet from walks and bike rides.
Slip covered upholstery is a practical choice for Vineyard homes. The inviting, casual look of a slipcover fits in effortlessly to a relaxed environment, while design elements such as a straight skirt and a tightly woven fabric achieve the tailored, refined look the clients wanted. The 15-foot-tall drapery in the great room help to not only frame the space but also protect the furniture from the sun and provide an element of privacy on the large windows.
The clients knew exactly what they wanted and were smart about not only trusting the collaboration of Island professionals to build their dream home but also in the way they approached furnishing the home, Sophia shared. “We strategically planned the purchasing for the project to take advantage of Vineyard Decorators annual February Custom Sale.”
Shopping the sale with Paulina the clients did not have to compromise on the aesthetic of the project when purchasing items with savings, explained Sophia. For any homeowner with a large project, it is an amazing way to save on furnishings. Every October and February Vineyard Decorators has a large custom sale in which customers can receive 20% off vendors like Lee Industries, Four Hands, Dovetail, Classic Home, Worlds Away, Dash & Albert, Pine Cone Hill, Jaipur Living, and more. Included in the price of the furniture is free freight to Martha’s Vineyard.
An important element of making a home feel custom and finished is layering in artwork and styling. As art is naturally deeply personal, the clients selected their own art with Vineyard Decorators’ consulting. Local galleries and local artists that resonated with the client’s style were key considerations in selecting pieces. A focal point picture over the sideboard is from Edgartown’s Eisenhauer Gallery by artist Debbie Miller. The artwork in the sitting room is from local artist Kara Taylor & her Chilmark Gallery.
The exterior furniture, including the dining table, dining chairs, chaises, and Adirondacks, are from Vineyard Decorators’ own collection. These pieces are designed, manufactured, and imported by Vineyard Decorators. The teak is manufactured in Vineyard Decorators factories in Indonesia and imported to the island. The collection is available for delivery on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod.
“The clients’ love of nature and wood tones are seen and sensed throughout,” Sophia said. “They wanted the home to feel part of the natural environment around them and that is represented throughout the house in the exterior finish materials, wood beams, wood cabinetry, wood vanities, and the use of teak furniture on the exterior spaces of the home.” The design also incorporates natural stones throughout the house, the clients embracing the inevitable patina process in exchange for timeless elegance.
Incorporating natural materials into the design is also achieved through the large windows in the great room. Along with providing natural light, the windows offer unobstructed views of the verdant grounds.
Renee Clermont of Second Nature Designs said that sticking with the client's desire for a natural look meant sticking with a lot of greens for the landscaping. Since the backdrop is not that of a seaside retreat typical to a lot of Island homes, Renee was tasked with creating a view, but one that was clean and uncluttered. Using stone for texture and muted tones of ash gray, Renee succeeded in crafting a subtle and serene panorama that is enjoyed while outside, as well as from the home’s interior.
“It was more about texture rather than blooming flowers,” Renee said. “In the front, I used three varieties of evergreens along with some ornamental grass and lavender. It was all soft and kind of blurred lines. So very naturalistic, nothing structured.”
Around the fenced in pool area, she was able to incorporate more blooming plants like large pom-pom head hydrangeas and perennials. All of this accents the home without overtaking the architectural design.
Inspired by modern farmhouse homes, the client wanted their Oak Bluffs home to evoke the feeling of being tucked away in the kind of woods that are indigenous to Chilmark. Architect Chuck Sullivan expertly captured that. Knowing and understanding the requests of the client for seclusion, strategic choices were made in the planning process to position the garage and outdoor living spaces in a way that acted as a buffer between other homes in the area.
Sullivan relished the work that went into creating this home that boasts modern lines and finish materials–a much different look from other houses in the surrounding neighborhoods that are more traditional in appearance.
It is easy to imagine enjoying one of Martha’s Vineyard’s unrivaled nightly shows of the sun setting and casting its warm glow upon this uniquely crafted home. This home–a sanctuary–stands as a testament to the artistry of design and collaboration of the Vineyard’s talented originators, with the heart and tranquility of the island beating in every corner.
The true essence of the Vineyard is not just a design choice, but also a way of life. That life is beautifully captured within the walls of this home that whispers with stories that create enduring memories of Island living.