A Beautiful Abode
Interior designer Liz Stiving Nichols offers an eclectic mix of furnishings and accessories in her shop in Vineyard Haven
In 2010, Martha’s Vineyard interior designer Liz Stiving Nichols opened a home furnishings shop on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. Bespoke Abode, a home furnishing boutique, began offering something for every aesthetic and budget. When a shop space opened up across the street that was three times the size, Stiving Nichols jumped at the chance to expand her offerings. “We are well stocked with finds that are a mixture of rustic and refined, preppy bohemian, organic and nautical, and even a little steampunk. We have a plethora of styles,” notes Stiving Nichols.
We met with Liz Stiving Nichols in her Martha’s Vineyard shop recently to discuss her design philosophy and what inspires her own design work.
Cape Cod Home (CCH): Tell us about Bespoke Abode.
Stiving Nichols (SN): As an extension of the design firm, Martha’s Vineyard Interior Design, Bespoke Abode offers goods that are reflective of our work and of the Vineyard lifestyle. Bespoke Abode offers several custom products such as window treatments, rugs, and furniture. We also carry a large variety of lighting and home accessories. Our firm has a very talented design team, who can help determine the best product and style as well as complete all measuring and installations of custom window treatments and rugs.
As the primary buyer for the store, when searching for new inventory, I do so from the perspective of an interior designer, a customer, an island resident, an enthusiast of reclaimed materials, one-of-a-kind finds, and great buys. You can buy off the floor, or we can customize just about anything to your specification.
CCH: What are the new trends for spring? What is this season’s hot color?
SN: I do my best to not get too wrapped up in trends, but according to Pantone, the hot color of 2013 is emerald green. From my perspective, I think we are going to be seeing a lot of citrus colors. Bright colors and crisp whites will be popular. Nautical stripes will never get old, but you might notice some exuberant pinks, orange, yellows, and reds, rather than the traditional sailor blue and white. There are so many great values of orange that there is sure to be a place for a little orange in everyone’s life. Since we live on Martha’s Vineyard, it is fair to say we will never move too far from a coastal palette.
At Bespoke Abode, we have added a new line of throw pillows this year. Annie Selke’s Fresh American line offers pillows and poufs that are sure to add a pop of cheerful color to any interior. The fact that the pillows are indoor/outdoor makes them durable and very versatile.
Lacquered finishes are popular not only in home accessories, but also furniture. Bungalow 5 has a few of my favorite pieces that we will be offering this spring. Be sure to check out their classic Parsons console table in lacquered grass cloth and their Porto dining table in high gloss white lacquer.
A few other new introductions are mid-century modern classics with a citrus twist. We will be bringing back our ever popular Townie Pillow and Zip Code pillows and are offering our customers the ability to custom order their color and text. These have proven to be a perfect gift for those who are shopping for the “hard to buy for.” This year, we’ve expanded this line with tote bags and pillows made of sailcloth that are also customizable and well suited for your boat.
CCH: What is your design philosophy when it comes to designing a home on Cape Cod or the Islands?
SN: On or off Cape, our philosophy is the same—the interior design of a home should be harmonious with the architectural and exterior elements, and also reflect the client’s personality and style. On the Cape, we might take a few other things into consideration such as well-designed outdoor living spaces, or the possibility of wet bathing suits and sand being tracked in the house. Ultimately our job is to get to know our clients and create a design that is all about their life, personality, and family. A good designer is, first and foremost, a good listener.
CCH: Is it different designing for a primary residence versus a second home?
SN: The approach to designing a primary residence compared to a vacation home is the same; it’s the state of mind that may be different. Our goal is to create a design that reflects our client’s lifestyle. One’s lifestyle in their summer home may be vastly different than in their everyday life.
When beginning a project, I frequently ask my clients if they want their home to be a place where people can put their feet on the sofa, or take their shoes off at the door. In the summer, I find people (myself included) are most often a little more laid back and maybe even adventurous. Perhaps the fact that they are only living in the house a few weeks or months out of the year, people feel they can take more risks. That is certainly an added perk from a designer’s point of view.
CCH: What inspires you in the designing process?
SN: I happen to devour several design magazines each month so I am sure something along the way sticks, but when looking for design inspiration, I turn to my clients. Understanding their style, personality, and lifestyle is key. We also often speak of “bringing the outside in”—when working on the Cape and Islands, there is inspiration everywhere you look. Creating a design that is cohesive with the exterior provides a sense of balance and completion. Creating a design that is a reflection of our client’s lifestyle and budget creates happy clients.
CCH: Who were your early influences growing up?
SN: My parents were great influences. My mother is very artistic and my father was “a mover and a shaker” back in the day. My creativity stems from her, and my father’s entrepreneurial spirit has been great inspiration. They both have always led by example, not only as good parents and good people, but also as good and fair business owners. I grew up on a horse farm in Ohio with 80-plus acres of wooded horse trails and open fields. It offered me a great appreciation of beauty in nature. Pleasant Valley Farm is still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. My childhood home was a comfortable and fun place to be. I guess I always strive for that sensibility.
CCH: What is one luxury you can’t live without when it comes to your interiors?
SN: If I had to list one luxury that I could not live without, the easy answer would be great fabric. It changes everything—color, texture, pattern, and style. So much can be done with fabric. Using an unexpected color or pattern on a vintage chair can create a functional work of art. But above all good lighting is a must!
Bespoke Abode is located at 56 Main Street, Vineyard Haven, MA. For more information, call 508-693-0722 or visit bespokeabode.com.