Island Time

By linking the interior spaces to the pristine landscape, a sprawling family retreat becomes a tranquil haven.

At dusk, the view from the infinity pool toward the horizon is undeniably idyllic. The cedar-clad exterior of the home honors classic Nantucket architectural forms and exudes a natural palette that honors the pristine landscape.  

In the game room, a modern chandelier by Stickbulb hangs above the pool table.

To ensure the pool and adjacent cabana had unfettered ocean views, 100 truckloads of dirt and extensive excavations were required.

The kitchen, dining and living areas are located on the home’s second floor, which offers prime vistas.

White oak floors and custom cabinetry offer an appealing contrast with the Pietra Cardosa stone that sheaths the wall and counters. Three separate counter areas ensure that prep, cooking and eating all have a distinct spot.  

Against the room’s neutral backdrop, a custom Vanguard sectional is adorned with throw pillows in shades of blue, a nod to the coastal setting. 

"Nantucket! Take out your map and look at it. See what a real corner of the world it occupies!” proclaims Herman Melville in his legendary work, Moby-Dick. Although he never visited the island, Melville had a notion of the unique connections Nantucket inspires.

If anyone has mastered the art of identifying the dots of connections in Nantucket, it is Andrew Kotchen, co-founder and principal of architecture and interior design firm Workshop/APD. A part-time resident of the island, he has designed more than 100 homes there and innately senses the nuances of the seemingly homogenous archipelago. “All areas are different,” he notes. “Madaket is its own village, disconnected from the action and crowds.”

Mirroring the sense of simplicity and serenity of its surroundings served as the inspiration to design a family retreat on a vacant parcel abutting conservation land on Nantucket’s west side village of Madaket. The seasonal retreat was designed to be a place where family and friends could gather, inside and outside the property, effortlessly floating between spaces, enjoying privacy and a connection to the land and waters beyond.

On other parts of the island, “people build big box houses,” says Kotchen. In contrast, this compound is seven interconnected pavilions that naturally flow like river rocks. The structures provide a feeling of being discreetly connected to the landscape, but upon entry into the main house, one quickly realizes it is much more than first meets the eye. The house, studio and guesthouse all seamlessly connect to and from the multiple outdoor spaces. From an immense solar array to the geothermal heating and cooling, its masterful and mindful design is both stunning and sustainable.

The living areas, both indoor and out, have been thoughtfully laid out to provide broad views across the neighboring conservation land, out to Madaket Harbor and the Atlantic beyond. While the sprawling main house comprises more than 9,000 square feet, a series of connected ells—as one would encounter in 19th and 20th century residences—make the home feel cozy and informal. 

Teak, fieldstone and flamed granite surround the infinity pool and hot tub, as well as three seating areas, two of which feature fire pits. Kotchen notes that additional soil was brought to the site to create elevations that provide privacy and raise the pool. Used primarily as a summer residence, the outdoor space was designed to highlight the unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean and magical Madaket sunsets.

A focal point of the main house is the striking vertical staircase. Glass, oak and steel create the three-story central structure, anchored by bluestone river rocks on the lower level. Visible upon entry from both the front and side doors, the staircase provides an opportunity to introduce many of the compelling materials that exist throughout the home. Pietra Cardosa—a dark-gray sandstone—along with glass-marble composite, oak and steel were used throughout from the bedrooms to the kitchen with a goal of creating impact through repetition.

“The interior of this residence was largely informed by the unique context and coastal setting. A significant portion of the palette features cool tones and warm neutrals, as well as some more saturated tones directly tied to the landscape,” says Kotchen. “The balance between the ocean and nature preserve surrounding the site gave us the opportunity to create a create a home that was not only serene but also simple, clean and modern.”

“The kitchen was one of the most important rooms in the house, as our client has a passion for cooking,” says Kotchen. The space features a 14-foot-long island surrounded by professional-grade appliances, including a Gaggenau steam oven, a 60-inch Capital Culinarian range and an Argentine-style grill, all set under a unique gabled ceiling. Custom-designed oak millwork with steel hardware hides many of the appliances and, combined with the Pietra Cardosa counters, creates a casual setting.

“It just all works,” says Kotchen. His keen understanding of the location allowed the team to maximize views, natural sunlight and site topography. Kotchen had the pleasure of spending a summer day with the family. He observed that “everyone literally floats from one place to the other.” One can envision the compound brimming with family and friends seamlessly connecting with each other, the land and sea beyond.


Single-family vacation home



Reid Builders

Blatt Billiards

Game room pool table

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Sitting area swivel chairs

One Forty Three
Kitchen shaded pendants

RH Modern
Dining table 

Pool lounge chair cushions

Kitchen stools

Teak Warehouse
Chaise lounges

Vanguard Furniture
Living area sectional