Life on Nantucket: A look into one family’s ‘Sconset oasis

Cape Cod Home  /  Spring 2019 /

Writer: Allyson Plessner / Photographer: Kit Noble 

Life on Nantucket: A look into one family’s ‘Sconset oasis


Cape Cod Home  /  Spring 2019 /

Writer: Allyson Plessner / Photographer: Kit Noble 

Living Under the Deep Blue Sea

Just like the sea’s many colors, this Siasconset home is a prismatic homage to the creative convergence of a designer and homeowner

The ocean has many colors. One day it’s blue, the next green, and in no two places is it ever the same. But in this fluidity is where it finds its beauty. In Malibu the sea is often turquoise—an ever-present reminder of warm days when the sun’s pleasant embrace is like that of a dear friend. On the East Coast, the waves are often a deep, wintery blue—a tribute to the natural beauty present throughout the seasons. And on Nantucket? There’s nothing quite like it. Christopher Paolini once wrote: “The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.” But no one ever said that the beauty of the deep blue sea couldn’t be captured by design.

“When you walk in, the first thing you see is this surfboard hanging from the ceiling, and it immediately sets the tone that this is a fun, beachy house,” says the proud owner of a colorful Siasconset house designed by Nina Liddle of Nina Liddle Design. The vision for this project was a wonderful intersection between classic Nantucket style and Malibu beach color. “My vision was a modern edge with clean lines and a lot of white contrasted with bright, colorful accents,” explains the homeowner. 

Having worked for years on Nantucket, bringing color and excitement to this island home was a task that Liddle was more than fit to handle. “She really captured what was in my head,” says the homeowner, “and she did it in a way that was clean, contemporary and grounded in organic elements.”

“The homeowner was involved every step of the way,” says Liddle. “It was a very collaborative process and she had this unique, punchy design that we were able to pull together with lots of blues and oranges.” The first-floor guest bedroom is Liddle’s favorite. With an orange and pink quadrille fabric headboard, it’s easy to see why. That eye-catching color is carried over to another bedroom with a matching orange vanity in the adjacent bathroom. These fiery orange accents are a fitting contrast to the calming blues that adorn the rest of the home—a nod to the classic relationship between fire and water, fierce heat and soothing coolness.

Nina Liddle standing in the ‘Sconset home she designed. Photo by Maria Carey.

“It was important that we keep the design both cohesive, with all the bright colors going on, and also relaxed,” explains Liddle. “This family has a lot of house pride, and I wanted to honor that and make sure that they have a place they can escape to.” As a family home, it was important to both Liddle and the homeowners to create that joyful, happy feeling of a summer escape and really capture how the family lives and exists together in the space. 

“Right when you walk in, I wanted the statement to be, ‘This house is all about fun.’ You walk in through the mudroom—because the front door is too formal,” says the homeowner with a laugh, “and the surfboard sets the tone, hanging from the ceiling. You know that you’re in this fun, casual place. We have games all over the house, a fire pit, and we even turned the garage into a crossfit gym.”

Stark white elements are used to add balance throughout the home, seamlessly pulling together vibrant oranges and rich blue accents.

The vibrant colors, and indeed vibrant personalities, that fill this home and turn it into a true island retreat are balanced against crisp, white tones throughout the home, bringing the design back to those clean, modern lines that the homeowner first envisioned. In the kitchen, deep blue Oomph light fixtures mirror the shimmery blues of Nantucket Sound and hang in beautiful contrast to the white marble countertops and cabinetry in the space. In the bathroom with the orange vanity, the atmosphere of the room is softened by white walls, counters and floors. The kelly green and turquoise banquette—practical for this active family in that the material is all indoor/outdoor—stands next to a beautiful white table. In this way, Liddle creates a colorful sanctuary that isn’t overwhelming: a space for both relaxation and fun, vibrant gatherings and tranquil Nantucket beach days—a space where the most intense shades of blues, oranges and greens can all coexist beautifully.

As with any beloved family home, the details are really what bring this space to life. “Nina was really great at understanding the scale that all of the different elements needed to be,” explains the homeowner. “She could just look at a space and know what would work.” A prime example of this is the fantastical lighting fixtures throughout the home, such as the Oly ball chandelier in the dining room, large enough to make a statement but not so big as to be overwhelming in the room.

“One element that was special to both myself and the homeowner was this hallway bookcase,” says Liddle. “We wallpapered the back of it with this navy vinyl wallpaper.” What better way to add creativity and personality to a space? That unique flare continues to the powder room, which features dynamic blue Phillip Jeffries wallpaper, and on to the living room, which boasts a dark-blue and purple coastal art piece that inspired the color palette for the rest of the room.

One of the reasons that the family originally was drawn to the space was a desire to have somewhere for the entire family to be together. With family overseas, this home truly serves as a getaway and a fun place to pull people together.

“When you walk into Nina’s design studio,” explains the homeowner, “she has all of these vision boards. I would come in and she’d have my house front and center with different vision boards for each room, each with different versions of ideas that she’d created from my suggestions.” It’s that attention to detail and ability to collaborate with the homeowner, involving the family in each aspect of the project, that makes Liddle such a successful designer. “There are all these layers of pieces that make it feel like a home, and she did a great job layering things in a way that makes the space feel really warm and beautiful. I just love it,” boasts the homeowner. 

Orange pops of color make this space feel fun and exciting—the perfect atmosphere for an active family to gather in. A crossfit gym in the garage, a surfboard on the ceiling,  and firepits outside make this home the ultimate vacation spot.

“What I love most,” the owner continues, “is that the home has this Malibu, beachy vibe while still using these organic elements that make it feel natural.” The home is pretty, colorful and modern while still maintaining a respectful appreciation of the ‘Sconset area. “I didn’t want it to be so modern that it feels cold,” and cold is certainly not a word that could be used to describe this vibrant space. In fact, it is quite the opposite—bursting with color and warmth that makes it very clear the type of fun summer adventures that will be had and lasting memories that will be made here in this island paradise. A unique, modern twist on the classic tale of an island beach home, this home is where the ocean comes alive in the deep-blue lanterns in the kitchen, in the plum colors of the living room, in the teal banquette and on the walls of the powder room. It captures all of the emotion of the sea and the vibrancy of life on Nantucket.

Anthony Doerr writes about the sea: “It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads. It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.” The ‘Sconset home that Liddle pulled together is like the ocean in this way—a place abundant in light and color, an escape to relax and enjoy oneself. Because why would you want to be anywhere else when you could relax in a colorful home in ‘Sconset?

Allyson Plessner

Allyson Plessner is a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life and now works for the publication as a staff writer and digital media coordinator. Born in Florida, Allyson has been a lifelong summer resident of the Cape. She is a recent alumna of the College of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina, where she completed bachelor’s degrees in both English and Spanish. In her free time, Allyson is an avid sailor, beach-goer, and—like her fellow Cape Cod Life colleagues—a dog-lover.