Fair Days at the Faraway
Starting with the front façade of the home, as visitors approach or neighbors consider the structure from the street, it is immediately evident that this is not a typical Nantucket shingled cottage. The home exudes a farmhouse sensibility with an asymmetrical covered porch, that is unexpectedly welcoming despite its covered and protected design, making its approachability a paradox of its design. J.D Bessey, who grew up in the western mountains of Maine explains the home’s barn aesthetic, “We didn’t want that big, aggressive front to the house—columns, big front door and white clapboard that is so easily identified with Nantucket homes. We wanted it to feel simple, small and quaint with an inviting air that makes you feel like you want to come inside. And then once you have entered you are hit with the surprise: a large and welcoming open floor plan,” J.D. says of the 4,600 square foot home.
Inside the front entry, the ‘rustic glam’, as Laura calls it, immediately sets the stage for the casual, yet fully embracing lifestyle the Besseys have carved out for their family. Instead of the popular white shiplap paneling that has popped up in so many coastal homes, especially on Nantucket, J.D. has turned the trend on its ear by literally installing it vertically in what is know as v-groove paneling. A sliding rough-hewn interior barn door allows the mudroom/laundry room to be closed off when the days have been spent enjoying the island instead of doing chores. An interior transom window (a feature that re-appears throughout the ground floor) crowns a stretch of tray ceiling whose insert mirrors the barn door and acknowledges the white oak flooring found throughout the home. “J.D. doesn’t like to waste anything, so the trays in the ceiling are leftover flooring that he had stained to complement the finish on the barn door,” Laura explains.
Entering the main living area, the impressive ceiling detail now becomes a coffered ceiling as the white cross beams and their oak coffered panels subtly define and divide the spaces below. An eleven-foot island topped with White Rhino marble sourced and installed by Cape Cod Marble and Granite, spans the length of the galley kitchen. Most galley kitchens offer maximum function in an otherwise limited or cramped space. Not so in this kitchen where space is a true luxury, but the ease of having most of the function along one long stretch of wall melds the luxury of space with the ingenuity of function. With such a generous allocation of space, the Besseys were able to forego upper cabinets in the space. Leaving just two square windows and a range hood allowed them to tile the entire length and height of the wall in Thassos White tile with a mosaic of royal blue glass, thus keeping things neat and easy to clean while also being design forward. J.D. says of the choice to install extra-wide shiplap on the seating side of the island, “It was a fun detail that really catches people’s eye.” He is correct on that point, but the half-dozen acrylic and brass barstools Laura sourced are also head-turners.
Laura’s ability, (exceptional talent is more accurate) to source, search and successfully identify unique and memorable items for the homes they build is truly a thing of wonder. Throughout the home there are elements that consciously surprise as well as unconscious choices that easily establish the vibe of the space. An example of her unique ability to find the unexpected and ultimately perfect item is present in the four chairs that anchor the transitional space between the kitchen, the pool and backyard beyond. Covered in tufted gold velvet with post-modern lines, the chairs are the kind you just sink into and come up with reasons to not get out. “The fabric is just addictive,” says Laura. “People sit there and invariably, they just start to pet the velvet. They are very relaxing.”
Perhaps the ultimate in indulgence, an Andersen Big Door, opens the seating area to the Ipe decking transitions to the natural stone that surrounds the pool. The Bessey family consists of three adult children and one special little granddaughter. The eldest, and the mother of the granddaughter lives in Farmington, Maine; their son works for their construction company on the island, and their youngest daughter is in college and a member of the Synchronized Skating Team USA. When the family gathers together, it would not be uncommon to see one of them at a full sprint, launching themselves from this seating area across the deck, through the air and into the pool.
Seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a pool, a basketball court, a very special pool house that J.D. Built as a surprise for Laura, a dining pavilion with a fully functional outdoor kitchen, an impressive lower level with a gym, a shuffleboard court and a few hidden surprises—it’s all here in this special farmhouse on Nantucket. The story of the Besseys and their extraordinary team will continue to unfold over the year as we take you into their home and into the life they share with their family.
Make sure to check back throughout the year to learn more about this incredible Nantucket home! For more Nantucket, take a look at what our readers voted the best of the island on our Best Of Nantucket page!
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