Charm Abounds in This Nantucket Cottage

May 26, 2022

A newly renovated cottage completes a charming Nantucket compound.

Text by Lisa H. Speidel    Photography by Matt Kisiday    Produced by Frances Bailey

In addition to an interior that had a certain “snap,” as she calls it, Kathleen had another important request of designer Kendall Rabun as they renovated the Nantucket cottage Kathleen and her husband had just bought: she wanted a large dining room table. Really big, in fact. One that seats twenty-four.

“Kendall kept saying to me, ‘Are you sure you want one that big?’ I said, yes!” remembers Kathleen.

The table, an expandable custom beauty with capstan pedestals from Dunes and Duchess, was a symbolic first purchase. Nantucket is synonymous with family for the couple—and they wanted a table that could accommodate three generations for summer potlucks and grill nights.

Kathleen’s Nantucket roots run deep. She fell in love with Siasconset back in the sixties as a teenager vacationing with her grandmother, and then it became a family affair. Today, she and her husband’s cottage abuts houses owned by her daughter and son; the three backyards connect, enabling the five young grandchildren to run free.

In 2020, when the couple purchased that third piece of the family puzzle, Kathleen immediately turned to Rabun for a refresh. With the able assistance of architect Vallorie Oliver and builder TL Halford, Rabun first addressed a handful of larger projects: adding walls to create a second office, taking a few rooms down to the studs to layer in lighting and adjust door placement, creating a new powder room/laundry room, and turning the existing laundry area into a welcoming bright-blue mudroom.

With the structural changes complete, Rabun set out to transform a dated interior without making things look too new. “That squeaky brand-new vibe was not what we were going for,” says the designer. Rather, she sought to incorporate “lots of small-scale mixed patterns [note the tiled fireplace surround, the powder-room wallpaper, and the upholstered headboards and throw pillows] so it feels thoughtful and layered, along with vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces.” A favorite find that Kathleen scored is the early-twentieth-century impressionist rendering of a nostalgic Nantucket scene that hangs in the primary bedroom. “She was texting me from the auction,” remembers Rabun happily.

All these sweet touches that nod to a sense of place are, of course, balanced by a nothing-is-too-precious vibe. After all, it’s summer, and it’s time for the adults to open a bottle of rosé and the grandchildren to grab a seat at the (wipeable) kitchen island stools while they wait for the table to be set for another memorable gathering.

Project Team
Interior design: Kendall Rabun, Kendall Rabun Interiors
Architecture: Vallorie Oliver, Val Oliver Design Builder: TL Halford Construction