Monday, September 28, 2015

A Martha's Vineyard Vacation Home

in the past month I've seen bloggers write about the house I started designing in 1995.
It's now owned by different folks and is being rented by the month. It's also
  been redecorated, but some of the things I did are still in the house.
In particular; all the renovations and interior architectural detailing.
Les Brown (the architect I used for almost all my projects) and I started  fixing this house 20 years ago.
It was a small haborside cottage without much character and in need of some love.
We trashed it and reinvented it by gutting and adding on to it.
It's been so long that I can't remember what it looked like when my clients, the Newhouses bought it.
The view below is from the back of the house that faces the harbor.
When we stated it was on a steep weedy hill.
Catherine and Wynn Newhouse hired a local landscape designer who worked out this lovely terraced effect so that Catherine could have a perennial flower garden.
I found the wonderful Bob Timberlake Adirondack chairs that we placed at the bottom of the hill.
The bay window that juts forward in a point on the second floor was added by Les.
He wanted it to relate to the prow of a boat.
He had to do some tap dancing with the local authorities to allow that to be added.
I never thought it looked like a boat, but Les's mind is a mysterious and bewildering jungle.
This bay was a niche in the master bedroom. I had a desk build into the space and it worked to make a wonderful little place to write and look out at the view. 
This is how it looks today, for some reason some of the hedges have been left unclipped and I think that that may obstruct the views from the interior entry window seat that sits in the lower level of the "tower". 
But other than that it looks the same, even down to the weather vane.
This is Wynn and Catherine with their psychotic Siamese cat.
I had worked for them for years, doing their three condos in the Back Bay of Boston before they bought this house.
Wynn had MS, and by this time he was using a wheel chair.
Everything in the house was designed to be barrier free, which is the term for handicap accessible. 
But first, let's talk about the psychotic cat.
One week, Wynn and Catherine were going to be gone on a trip, and they asked me to take their cat for the week.
I love animals, so I said "No problemo!"
it was a BIG PROBLEMO!!!!!
The cat had become unbalanced and aggressive.
It kept attacking me, no matter what I did.
I remember sitting propped up in my bed, reading the morning paper when he came into the bedroom.
I refused to look up (or down, in this case) thinking if I ignored him, didn't look him in the eye, he would just 
It didn't work.
He jumped up on the bed bit me and lept away.
I was starting to really freak out by this time.
He was absolutely terrorizing me.
I've never been afraid of a cat before or since.
I wanted to cry.
Luckily Wynn hadn't left for the trip yet, he was going to meet up with Catherine.
She had already made her escape left for vacation.
He said to bring the cat back, not to worry.
He had a van that had been outfitted for his use, so he drove out to my house.
Got the spawn from hell into the case, whereupon I fell to my knees in relief, and he left my home.
since my house wasn't set up for wheel chair access, I had to find two neighbors to carry the chair into the house with Wynn in it, and then carry him back out.
Ah, the adventures of an interior designer!!!!!
I once took care of Steven Tyler's cat for three months when his family home burned down.
That was a completely different situation, I loved that cat.
She was WONDERFUL!!!!!
The first thing Steven did once the fire fighters had the fire under control was run back into the house and search for the cat.
He found her in the basement.
When I got her it took a week before she stopped smelling like smoke.
He had been working out in the barn behind the house when he heard his wife screaming for his help.
She was VERY pregnant at the time and couldn't climb down the rope ladder that they had for emergencies.
She was holding her toddler in her arms on the balcony outside their bedroom.
He climbed up the rope and got them both down to safety.
He was a real hero that day.
(this picture was taken a gazillion years ago.....)
One time when the band was on tour, she stayed with me for a couple of weeks. 
(the cat, not the wife)
My neighbors wondered what the @#$ was going on when they saw a long black stretch limo pull up in front of my house.....
a liveried driver get out.....
reach into the back seat.....
and pulled out a cat carrier that was delivered into my waiting paws.
(no, that wasn't normal, he had just taken the family to the airport)
I've also taken care of dogs.....
When my Watertown home was in House Beautiful, they wanted a picture of me on my front stoop with a dog, since the article was about my love of dogs.
I borrowed one that I took care of from time to time.
Tom and Terry Hamilton (Areosmith's bass player) had two little dogs that I LOVED.
I have such a soft spot for West Highland Terriers.
before you ask.....

Boy, I really went off on a tangent down memory lane.
This wasn't at all what I meant to write.....

Back to the Vineyard house.
It made the cover of Traditional Home, which never hurts my ego.
At the time I thought that Architectural Digest might have been interested since Wynn Newhouse was the son of Si Newhouse who owned Conde Nast Publishing that owned Architectural Digest.
No such luck.
They didn't want any nepotism.
Below is the living room that looks out to the water. Les designed the ceiling and I designed the fireplace bookcase and mantle. I laid out how I wanted the tiles set and chose delft blue to work with the blues we used in the downstairs.
The wall scones were custom colored to work with the palette.
I hung that little delft blue plate in the middle because it just seemed like the thing to do!!!!!
I found some pretty brass ring pulls that we screwed into the ceiling and I had the draperies made with ties so that they could be hung that way.
I wish I had a closeup, it's a cool detail.
The rug was a hand looped custom design that was made in the Philippines.
I designed it to work with the floral fabric on the two club chairs.
This wasn't the way the floor plan was really laid out since it had to accommodate Wynn's wheelchair, but for the magazine picture we rearranged the seating group.

I used a circle motif throughout the house in a lot of the detailing.
The construction crew was great.
No matter what drawings I threw at them, they were able to build it.
I didn't once hear "Lady, that can't be done".
I don't draw it unless I know how to build it.
Men don't like it when I have to explain their jobs to them.

Below is a shot of what it looks like today.
I stole borrowed this picture from Vignette Design Blog by Delores Arabian.
If you don't follow her, she has a wonderful blog.
She wrote that it was recently shown in New England Home Magazine, so I think that's where the picture is from.
I don't quite understand the furniture in front of the fireplace, but maybe they did that to create more seating, since this is a rental as well as a vacation home.
I like the sisal rug in this room, and the woven chairs are fun.
They kept the painting but changed the wall sconces going for a more neutral contemporary look.
However.....they let my little plate stay on the mantle!!!!!
I also "borrowed" this picture from Delores, I think she might have taken it when she was staying at the house.
The new owners have replaced the plaid sofa with a pair of white square lined slipcovered ones.
All the furniture is new, as a matter of fact.
notice the little window to the left of the fireplace.....
see the circle in the middle?????
I used circles EVERYWHERE I COULD!!!!!
That's it for today.
I will be showing lots more of this house coming up in future posts, so stay tuned!!!!!
on that note,
Latah, Gatah


Sunflowers With Smiles said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Need to get back to visit Martha's Vineyard again!

Anonymous said...

It's lost all the charm you incorporated. What a shame. The image on the cover of Traditional Home is just beautiful. That's the Betsy we love.

bmayer said...

I like your version better. I know you meant sconces, but you wrote scones, and I got hungry and had to stop, have a snack and a cup of tea. Thanks. Can you tell us anything about the chandelier on the mag cover? It's just what I would love. I have a two tiered, ten light brass one that I want to replace (or alter). What I really like is the crown and the "skirt"(?). There probably is a technical term for this. I have a feeling you are going to tell me it was custom made...........

vignette design said...

Hi Betsy,
Thanks for the shout out. I remember this house now and am thinking I may even have a copy of that Traditional Home. While I stayed there, I kept asking myself questions: Like why was there an elevator? (It's been removed and a wet bar is now in the dining room), and what did the house look like before. I was intrigued with the architectural details -- all your design. Now those questions have been answered. It was such an honor and pleasure to spend a week in this house. Finding out you designed it made it even more special as I've been following you for as long as you've been a designer! ~Delores

vignette design said...

PS: I just went to Amazon and found the copy of Trad Home. Can't wait to get it so I can see how you designed the home and how it looks now! ~Delores

Dolores said...

Since we are among friends- I am able to say that I like Betsy's version better too, because it has more personality, more charm- and seems eminently more livable.The new natural, white with lots of texture d├ęcor is what I expect to see in the present day shelter magazines, but I don't think it's as inviting as Betsy's room.It looks bare on one side and crowded on the other side..Why is all the furniture clustered around that beautiful tiled fireplace?Why hide those gorgeous tiles?

Unknown said...

I love your style much better,so will be anxious to hear more.Guess not everyone can be the same.

Melissa said...

Oh, the adventures you've had Betsy. One word...lovely!

gayle jolluck said...

I also don't understand the chairs and table in front of the fireplace...looks like cleaners moved them, then forgot to put them back where they belonged.....

Anonymous said...

Your design of the room is so much nicer, I can't imagine why they took down the pretty sconces down and put those others up....the fireplace is a gem and hidden behind the furniture. They De-Betsyed they room and boy does it show!

Marie in AZ said...

Great stories...about the house AND the Tylers! I like your version much better, too...generally I like to look at the pictures of neutral, white, and wood toned rooms, but personally I prefer to live with color and texture and warmth in my rooms. You be da best, Betsy!

cotedetexas said...

I LOVE this story!!!!!! can't wait to read all of it. this is so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cotedetexas said...

btw - i totally remember this house and loved it!!!!

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