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A Subtle Case of the Blues

In the wrong hands, a palette of blue and white by the coast can become a tedious cliché.  In the hands of Karli Stahl, principal of Nantucket’s KMS Designs, it becomes a study in nuance, texture, and ingenuity for a family seeking a restful backdrop to their lives in a second-home getaway.

It all began with the painting of the blue and teal glass jars over the kitchen banquette, by Boston-area still life artist Greg Haynes. “It was one of the first pieces the clients bought before we had really done any of the interior work,” Stahl says. “They showed me this, and it gave me a starting point for the palette of the house. The theme was kind of sea glass colors.”

The wife of the client couple echoes the sentiment: “I had seen it and just kind of knew. And I loved that the turquoise-y and greens would be really soothing against the sand tones in the room’s woods. From that painting the color scheme unfolded. It was absolutely the inspiration,” for all the home’s hues, reflecting not just the colors of sea glass but also the subtle tones of the ocean itself. 

Designer and client are not sitting in the same room when they make these remarks, but they might as well be. While Stahl is happy to give homeowners bright colors if that’s what they want, she and this client share an appreciation for a soft palette with a lot of neutral touches. “Because Karli knew my aesthetic and because I knew hers,” the client says, “it wasn’t that hard to agree on the direction the project would take.” The two came to the table perfectly in sync that this wasn’t going to be about cobalt blues and stark whites. Nothing out of a crayon box.

The client already had a history of trust with Stahl, and with Stahl’s husband. A few years earlier, the designing duo, high school sweethearts now in their 40s and raising two daughters, had bought their first spec house on the island, taking it down to the studs and completely reimagining it with the intention of flipping it. Before they had even finished the renovation, the client came through after having been shown a number of homes that didn’t appeal to her. 

“We weren’t really looking for a home on Nantucket in a serious way,” she says, “but the minute I walked into the front hall I knew this was it. I came home and told my husband I found the house we were going to buy.” Along with Stahl’s interior design style, she loved all the trim, specifically the focus on the details of all the woodwork. No surprise. Stahl’s husband is a millwork artisan who builds homes with exquisite attention to moldings, archways, and architectural motifs that give each home its own unique profile. 

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