Maggie Smith Builds her Dream Home in Vineyard Haven
June 2, 2021
With a perch a harbormaster would envy, this Vineyard Haven home proves that dreams can alter course.
Text by Stacy Kunstel Photography by Michael Partenio Produced by Stacy Kunstel
Maggie White has long been a house whisperer on Martha’s Vineyard. As owner of Hob Knob Construction and Hob Knob Realty, and as a former Edgartown inn owner, she has spent the past twenty-five years exploring, renovating, and building homes—all while being entertained at the best parties.
After selling the Hob Knob Inn in 2015, White cruised island backroads like a birder on a big day, seeking her next project. But a lofty perch, along with some sage guidance from her wife, Jan Smith, beckoned White to the shores of Vineyard Haven.
Smith knew by the third visit to the wooded lot that they should be building their dream home there rather than staying put in their enviable in-town compound in Edgartown.
“If you’re going to live on an island, you should be able to see the water,” reasons Smith. Still, it took her nearly six months to persuade White to a dream-home do-over. It was the Vineyard Sound view that finally conquered White’s reluctance to leave what she thought was the center of her universe.
Far from the historic dictates of Edgartown, the couple embraced a more contemporary look, turning to architect and family friend Gregory Koester. Shingle style from the front, the house recalls area coastal homes, but the back opens up with a stone-steel-glass exterior that shakes off any attempts to define it.
Inside, working with New York interior designer Rob Southern, the homeowners sought to emphasize the view by creating different ways of experiencing it, like in the octagonal tower off the living room where the couple sips morning coffee in front of sea-facing windows.
From Smith’s office, tucked under a dormer on the fourth floor, to the main-level entertaining areas, creams, whites, and light blue reflect the sky and water outside. On the lower pool level, Smith and White chose more grounding materials, including polished concrete floors. Opposite a wine cellar, White’s grotto-like, stone-walled office sits just off the rattan-kitted covered porch. “It’s certainly a different home than Maggie has ever built for herself or anyone else,” says Southern.
White, who thought she’d already built her dream home in Edgartown, hasn’t looked back. “Jan and I have drinks on the deck in the evening, and I just look at her and say, ‘Who lives here?’ ”