An Island Getaway
Two Canadian designers create their own getaway home honoring Nantucket’s history, yet showcasing the island’s natural beauty.
After just one visit to Nantucket, Darren Sukonick and Matthew Sapera fell in love with the island’s seafaring history, quiet windswept beauty, and pure architectural forms. So much so that they decided to draw upon their home design talents—both are designers for Matthew Sapera Fine Homes in Toronto—and build a getaway home for themselves.
After finding two-and-a-half acres just minutes from town surrounded by conservation land, the duo began designing a home that would reflect the historical context of the island. “We wanted to design something respectful of Nantucket with an old New England vernacular,” says Darren.
The pair designed a New England five-bay Colonial with wings on each side. The details of the front of the house follow the vernacular forms of Nantucket: classic six-over-six double hung windows, a Federal-style entryway with sidelights and transom, shingle-clad siding, and a substantial widow’s walk—a quintessential design feature found on many 18th- and 19th-century homes on the island. “We like to create a fictional timeline when designing homes to make it appear as if the house has grown over time, as many old houses do,” says Darren.
While the public-facing side of the house pays homage to the island’s past with its classical, symmetrical forms, the private side pays tribute to the island’s playful, relaxed, contemporary attributes of today. “We wanted to open up the back of the house to the views and incorporate lots of windows and transitional spaces to enjoy the outdoors in comfort,” says Matthew.
On the lower level, French doors lead to a loggia, creating the perfect spot to relax in the shade. The second floor offers a balcony accessed from three rooms through French doors. Beyond these transitional spaces, a bluestone terrace, in-ground pool, hot tub, and pool/guesthouse create the perfect summertime recreation spot. A safety fence for the pool is tucked into a hedge, so as not to disturb the view of the conservation land beyond.
The interiors also honor earlier New England homes with details such as shiplap and V-groove paneling, classical moldings, six fireplaces, and traditional layouts. Although the house is large at 7,500 square feet, the rooms feel intimate—everything is done to human scale. “We wanted the rooms to be distinct spaces,” notes Matthew. “To better capture views of the surrounding conservation land, the house is designed as an upside down house with the main living spaces—eat-in kitchen, dining room, living room and master bedroom—on the second floor.”
To connect the spaces in a more modern fashion, the designers introduced large arched openings. “The spaces flow into one another, which makes the house perfect for hosting large parties,” says Matthew. “Last summer, we held an engagement party for friends—100 guests attended.” A family room and guest bedrooms are located on the lower level. The flooring throughout is a rustic white oak with a handsome dark stain. The walls and ceilings are white creating an effective contrast. The furnishings are also in keeping with the island’s theme, a mix of antique and contemporary pieces to offer a relaxed beach feel in the spaces.
although the interiors pay homage to the island’s famous history, the home also celebrates natural light and views in a very 2012 way. There are axis points throughout the house so one can always enjoy a view. The moment you walk in the front door, the eye is drawn through the family room to the pool and conservation land beyond. The couple love to entertain throughout the summer months.
“Typically around 5:30, we have cocktails on the loggia,” says Matthew. “People have gone off to town or the beach for the day or found a quiet spot by the pool to read.” Then hosts and guests congregate to chat about the day’s activities. As the evening dwindles, friends and family move upstairs to steam lobsters or grill the catch of the day. “As the sun is setting, the house captures the light and casts interesting shadows,” notes Darren. “It’s wonderful to live in a house you have designed. There is so much planning and so many details to consider, and when the house turns out better than your highest expectations—it’s a great feeling.”
For information on Matthew Sapera Fine Homes, go to www.matthewsapera.com
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