This is late April on Nantucket island. Before the leaves pop and the tourists return. The homes are bare against the blue sky and daffodils bloom in tiny corners and along roads. It feels as though the island is just waking up.
We flew to Nantucket with a friend for a day trip. Even though we live in Massachusetts making it to and from Nantucket in one day via ferry is tough. This week is spring break for my daughter and flying to Nantucket seemed like a doable island adventure. We have never been and I really wanted to see more historic homes and how they have been renovated. I was really interested to look at the exteriors and how they made good use of a small garden spaces.
‘Sconset was very inspiring and idyllic. Each house seems to offer a view of the ocean. I didn’t see any tall fences but lower picket and flat top styles which doesn’t block anyones views. Crushed oyster shell driveways and paths with grassed planted in between. I didn’t see any pea gravel. The homes are covered in trellises. It has to be quite the sight seeing the roses in bloom in the height of summer. If you want to see these houses with all the flowers in bloom search: Sconset Bluff Walk.
For me it was helpful to see what roses look like in the winter. I feel like I only see photos of them in full bloom.
How do the trellis look bare? Are they ugly? It’s easy to only think of the idealized view but I feel like I need to consider the components of a house year around. I tried to included photos of more domestic solutions for utility boxes and trash. I always struggle finding images online. I hope you are inspired and the images help with any renovation you may be considering this summer.
A beautiful classic home in the quaint town of Annisquam, Massachusetts
When I was brainstorming colors to paint our house I first thought, yellow, pink or maybe pumpkin? But the more I collected images (I’m a big believer in Pinterest) I realized I really like white houses. I think it’s because I am drawn to colorful cottage gardens bursting with color.
When a house is a bright color I feel like the flowers don’t POP. White is such a great base and can be manipulated by adding different door colors, shutters, flowers. The possibilities are endless. It’s a very flexible base and the color is not prone to fading like brighter yellows. Living near the ocean our houses are battered by the weather.
On a recent drive up the north shore of Boston I snapped a few photos and video of old houses painted white. Each one is a classic beauty. I tend to be drawn to houses with green shutters. The more common choice is to pair it with a green door too. Architect Patrick Ahearn is well known in New England for showcasing this color palette. You can read about his specific paint choices here.
I have started to see more houses with an accent color like the one below. So cheery and feels a bit more modern then just a matching green. It’s totally OK to pair dark green shutters with a lighter green, yellow, blue or red.
If a bold front door color feels too much for you I would suggest starting with your back door. A back door is informal and place to play. Draw on the colors from your garden. Have fun. There are no rules.
I am still completely undecided on the accent colors (besides the white base) for my house. Shutters or no? Window boxes? Bold front door? Eventually I will figured it out. Our painters are currently just booked to do the white base. We really wanted to do a big exterior clean up but there are many details to remain which will take time. I know my process is much more visual so expect a lot more inspiration coming your way….
While I was in Maine I spent one rainy afternoon making whoopie pies with my Grammy Elliott and my cousin’s grandmother, Rita. Watching them bicker and laugh while sipping some cold Pinot Grigio while Judge Judy blared in the background was a hoot. Rita called herself the, Whoopie Pie Queen and frankly after tasting her creations I can’t deny that claim. Store bought whoopie pies are just too thick and have way too much filling. More is not necessarily better when it comes to whoopies.
Maybe I should back up and explain what a whoopie pie is for those not from Maine. Two devil food cakes are sandwiched between a filling made of egg whites, confectionery sugar, fluff, and basically Crisco. Whoopie pies as far as I know are a Maine thing. You’ll spot whoopies wrapped in cellophane at gas stations, sub shops, and gourmet stores all over Maine. Some claim to be the best but honestly nothing compares to homemade. Above and below photos from a fun afternoon.
Rita has passed away since I posted this blog in 2009. I found it in my archive and wanted to share again. She was so special to us and our family. I hope she sees this and smiles.
Below the recipe both grandmother’s having been making for years adapted from Marjorie Standish book, “Cooking Down East,” (1968).
Ingredients for Cakes:
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
5 tablespoons of cocoa (Rita uses 4)
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon each: baking powder, baking soda, salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
The sugar and shortening are creamed together, the beaten egg yolks added. The dry ingredients are sifted together, and added alternatively with the milk and vanilla. Drop the batter in equal spoonfulls onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving room for them to spread. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degrees oven for 7-10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool. When completly cool, mix filling (recipe below), spreading half the cakes with this mixture. Put them together like a sandwich.
ARCHIVED POST: ORIGINALLY POSTED JULY 2009
Filling: With an electric mixer, combine 1/2 cups shortening, 2 cups confectioners sugar, 2 egg whites, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons fluff.
P.S. I’ve come across recipes that cook the egg whites. The grandmothers never have and nobody has ever gotten sick.
ARCHIVED POST: ORIGINALLY POSTED JULY 2009
You can find the recipe for Whoopie Pies and more in this book.
I think my love for color combination yellow and blue started in this room. Greg and I stayed at The Marston House Wiscasset in 2011. It was pre-kids and we would spend weekends away exploring and sleeping in late. At the time Paul and Sharon Mrozinski owned the Marston House antique shop and Bed & Breakfast in Wiscasset, Maine. In June 2017, they sold the Wiscasset property to a client.
Sharon wrote to me in a recent e-mail, “We sold it all including the yellow sheets and towels and striped sheets too”. Paul and Sharon currently live in France and have six properties you can rent. I stayed in Bonnieux in 2012 for my honeymoon and it was magical.
In the summer Paul and Sharon now reside on the island of Vinalhaven in the summer and winter in France. Sharon told me, “We fell in love with the summer community and art culture on the island.” They renovated a building downsizing from Wiscasset. On the first floor is their shop and the upstairs was gutted and converted into living space, “now we have our bedroom on the water and our shop on Main Street.” They plan to return to Maine and open the store on Vinalhaven for the Summer 2021 season.
When you meet Paul and Sharon you immediately fall in love with them. They are warm, inviting and humble. They are gracious in sharing their design knowledge but also cooking tips. Design is their life and where their hands have touched each moment is delicately curated. Their interiors are warm and friendly offering a sense of lived in nostalgia but nothing is every over done. A sense of thoughtfulness and functionality can be observed in every decision. But you can feel they took that idea and drew back till the only thing that was left was what was needed. They always seem to find the right balance of utilitarianism and beauty.
Classic bedroom staples: Stripe sheets, chest and ceramic table lamp. I remember I tried to buy this chest off Sharon and I was given a big, No. Sharon explained they looked for a long time for a piece to fit there and the found that chest. She couldn’t part with it. The ceramic lamps are plain but work so well with the linen window shade seen below. I am still on a the hunt for chest just like this.
These yellow sheets with the blue and white duvet completely won me over. This photo is over 10 years old and feels just as fresh today as it did then. It’s classic. You can’t go wrong with stripes and yellow is a great pop. Land’s End and The Company Store both have sheets in great yellows. L.L. Bean has great classic blue and white duvets. I have this one and washes up great and the white is super crispy and summery.
Every morning a basket was set at our door with coffee and biscuits and jam. The small tea table was the perfect size to enjoy breakfast by the fire.
I believe this fireplace and mantel were built new but they feel like they could have been here for the last hundred years. Bricks are left unmortared which I am really attracted too. They feel less severe and softer. The mantel is left white and unfussy. A basic for kindling and paper adds further texture.
A linen shade is classic. I often times overthink window treatments. I look to prints and florals and kinda disregard solid linen shades. Here the offer texture. Even though they lack an actual print the folds of the shade and the sun shining through the textiles offers it’s one natural pattern.
Floor Cloths are so useful in wet messy places. They wipe up easy and never get damp. You can design your own making them modern or more historic with stencil patterns. I am a big fan and have plans to make a few of my own this summer.
A toilet brush is a necessary evil. You can stash them away in a closet or under a sink but then you have to worry about contaminating those spaces. Using a terra cotta pot with saucer works in this space and somehow it becomes chic and feels clever. And I think if your a gardener this is just an easy thing to love. Very sweet in an 1/2 bath off your garden too.
Shaker peg railing is simple. It’s a catch all for anything that could end up on a pile on or on a chair in a bedroom. I use them all over my house. Here it’s used for towels and robes. The pegs are painted the same color as the walls keep the lines in the rooms clean and the yellow accents of the linens take on a design element. The Company Store had a two sets of yellow tiles. One that is more marigold and one a paler lemon. Both are perfect.
A yellow terry cloth robe is absolutely brilliant on. I have an adorable photo of Greg wearing it but he refuses to let me post on the internet. I found one that is equally as awesome here. The marigold yellow is so striking and chic.