This is the very first time I have ever “reblogged"!

You know, those bloggers that show you a story (verbatim) from el Décor or Architectural Digest, et al and act as if they’ve brought you something new… Bitch, please...

Well, I'm doin' it today, but I'm going to give my priceless totally awesome is that?
I knowwwww...

Originally, I was going to write a Master Class about blue interiors... Then, whilst drudging through hundreds of snaps of blue rooms, I suddenly realized so many of my favorite images were of this one particular house Victoria Hagen did in Nantucket, which is absolutely perfect in every detail! All of its rooms are done in blue or off white, throughout.

Unlike other bloggers, I'm gonna use my nonpareil design skills to dissect the job, point out the genius of Hagan’s design by dumbing-it-down so ya'll can hopefully apply some of the principles to your homes...

well... maybe not...

Let's start with the exterior:

This gorgeous Nantucket home is one many people would love to own in the "new" Nantucket. (ALL rich folks - no more middle class, or old salty types).

Yes, its true...

The house we're discussing this week was designed by the architects Ferguson & Shamamian, who beautifully nailed the traditional Nantucket look.

With any home you should consider these points:

  • What is the point of this house? What's its use to your life's fulfillment (100 words or less please).
  • Is it a beach house or primary home?
  • What makes this house special, sets it apart from any other?
  • How has it been sited? (situated on the property)
  • This very house is amazingly well sited which takes advantage of stunning sea views and provides privacy.

Let's enter as guests would through the Main Foyer.

On this cross axis hallway we immediately notice the simplicity of the pure white walls and trim. An entire house totally void of all the 'done-to-death' fancy paint colors and wall coverings. The floors are stained a chestnut brown with a semi-gloss finish which reflects light around the house AND balances the whiteness with warmth. Ebonized or Bleached floors would be expected... and horrible...

This house has a very "American" feeling; it uses mostly English country furniture styles. The spare antique furnishings (maybe some repro's..who cares) give this newly built house "patina" which is the most important key! It's what you like when you look at the photos; the patina adds softness and age which is what makes us feel (implies) it's an old fashioned beach house. 
Notice the "balance" of coolness and coziness...


 Next, the Living Room:

Truly, one of my favorite rooms of all times... and I'm not a 'blue' person!
They've left the view as the primary player and not overshadowed it by using brightly colored fabrics and fancy pieces of furniture or art, which is awesome!!! The beautifully articulated mouldings, mantle and beadboard/beamed ceiling are all painted semi-gloss white, in keeping with this simplistic palette throughout the house.

Notice that there are only four or five textiles; white linen upholstery, blue leather wing chair, linen curtain panels, striped cotton and blue linen on some pillows. The restraint IS the beauty of this house. There's no trim on anything and no useless accessories...

I LOVE that!!!

The furniture throughout is almost always squared off, not catty-cornered or skewed about in the rooms - it's all nicely lined up, giving a nice contemporary air to the otherwise traditional home.

I must add... the architecture is 50% of this homes success. I'm not sure if Hagen's office or the architects did the interior elevations, but they rock! The spare wooden furniture is a rich walnut-tone..and it all matches, I hate different woods in a space!

(thank God Victoria listened to me when I told her to do that)
Important Point: Backgrounds are important! Many people make the mistake of cheaping out on the interior build-out and then spend it all on schmaltzy furnishings.. dumb budgeting at its best...

This room goes together like a symphony...
"no instrument outplays the other"...


The Dining Room, a lovely, casually elegant space.

It feels like a beach house dining room - imagine...

It has a huge, chunky farm table used with brown-wood English side chairs and two host chairs in white linen (keeping the center of the room from becoming too brown and heavy); British colonial armchairs flank the sideboard. The aged brass chandelier is 'familiar' and it adds patina, it feels as if it could've been original to this house (if it were an old house). The amalgam of the furnishings is well chosen and very casual ... a country-style sideboard, antique mirrors, unmatched chairs, blackened William & Mary sconces and NO rug.

Notice: the "line-of-sight" is always considered; what's in the view from any standpoint all works together here...


The Kitchen:

The semi-gloss beadboard walls and ceiling makes this space feel so fresh and patinated at the same time. Continuing the theme throughout the house of everything painted white is an old fashioned beach house idea. If it was painted in several shades, "antiqued" or "distressed" it would just look phony and very 2002.

I love the use of blackened hardware and polished floors (throughout the entire house). The continuation of wooden floors and white wall color makes this room look huge. The kitchen is totally lit by the wonderful old pharmacy lights and lamps. The table is an old, distressed wooden table which you don't have to worry about ruining and chairs are inexpensive French-style cafe chairs, offering whimsey and ease of care as they can be seated in in wet bathing suits. Also, notice there are no curly-cues, brackets or pilasters on any of the cabinetry, they're square, plain and simple...


Let's head upstairs!

In the crisply painted stair-hall we have wainscoting with few details, which keeps it simple (remember, beach house!) the stairs are carpeted with a plain beige (which hides traffic patterns and soil) runner with deep-blue banding exposing about 5" of the wooden treads. The lighting is provided by simple black-finished wall sconces with paper shades giving a subdued, cozy light at night. Also notice the banister and pickets, they're so plain and yet so...


The wainscoting and architectural details continue upstairs. Once you arrive at the top of the stairs you'll notice the ceilings are almost all clipped, hipped or angled which adds great charm to any upstairs room, it's more cozy with angles and dormers. The furnishings are more modest and cottagy.

Bedrooms should feel cozy and are smaller than public rooms; there is nothing worse than an egregiously large bedroom...its offensive to the human psyche - we're like dogs, we wanna sleep under the porch where it's cozy and comfortable not in rooms the size of ballrooms...unless of course... well, never mind...

Notice that the bedrooms are generous, but not huge, and they're furnished modestly which gives guests a sense of comfort. The room below has beadboard walls and old fashioned ceiling lights. The gleaming wooden floors are covered with a large carpet which is best for acoustics, but the small border of brown wood floor adds visual warmth. In small rooms, pairs of things make it look bigger
 (bedside tables, lamps, etc.).

This adorable room below - sooo simple and modest is absolutely charming. The diaphanous unlined linen London shade gives a filtered light, cuts the glare and adds softness to the room as privacy is not an issue.

This painted furniture is inexpensive and it just doesn't matter - it works! The pale blue walls are cool, comfortable and beachy - paired with the simple bed linens - no cabbage roses, no cabana stripes, no blue and white leopard spotted crap... 


This upstairs sitting-room off the master bedroom is a wonderful place to watch TV, or cozy up with the kids before bed. It's also a personal space - out of the way of guests where one can work at the desk or talk privately. The white scheme continues and feels fresh, still. The textiles are all solids and plains.

Patina is provided by the antique chart over the sofa, the bookcases, lamps, side chairs and tables which are all "found pieces" not some suite of furniture from a design center


The Master Bathroom and Dressing Room are nothing extraordinary, but they're perfect for this house! Simple colors, no wild-ass polychrome mosaic tiles, no mirrored walls. The scale is elegantly modest... not small but not huge. The built-ins are nice as they don't create visual clutter by trying to be "pieces of furniture."

The mirrors are framed in walnut color to match the floors and chairs; they're custom sized but framed like a pair of antiques which is great. If the two sidewalls in the dressing room were mirrored two things would happen:

  1. The room then have an optical illusion which is totally out of place for this home.
  2. It would look too schmancy, this way the need for mirrors is accomplished but looks old fashioned.
The end result? 


What didn't you notice?

  • No wall-to-wall carpeting. 
  • No buttons, bows or gee-gaws (plain curtains, pillows, carpets).
  • No schmancy mouldings with curly-ques (only tailored details).
  • No recessed lighting.
  • No floral fabrics (too "Shabby Chic").
  • No different schemes in every room (making it look like a decorator showhouse).
  • No modern furnishings (yet it looks contemporary!).
  • No ethnic carpets (too predictable).
  • No cabana striped fabrics (tres Pottery Barn).
  • No legions of accessories (no "this way to beach" signs).
  • No loads of flowers or plants everywhere.
  • No unnecessary items in any room (crappy decorations).
  • No staged decorations (silk ivy flowing out of a basket in kitchen).