Restoring a Historic Home
Just steps from Nantucket Harbor, old meets new at this impeccable restored family summer home with a storied past.
As (respectively) a designer and a developer who are passionate about historic buildings, Elizabeth and Peter Georgantas have made restoring old homes a way of life. After completing a renovation of a Boston brownstone, the couple set their sights on transforming a Colonial-era Nantucket house into a weekend summer getaway for themselves and their daughters.
The house was built in 1739 by the Macy family (relatives of the same folks who much later founded the famed New York City department store), but had suffered years of poorly conceived additions and renovations, as well as general neglect. Pictured: The house circa 1905.
Although they essentially overhauled the entire house, they salvaged and repurposed nearly all of the original materials, including beams, floorboards, and antique brick. The simple décor gives top billing to the architectural details. Philippe Starck's Louis Ghost chairs and a reclaimed-wood table mix modern and rustic style in the dining room.
A reverence for the past did not prevent the couple from installing modern conveniences, such as an updated kitchen and baths and a proper front door. The kitchen exemplifies Elizabeth's rustic-meets-clean look, with strap-hinge cabinet hardware from Period Furniture Hardware, a La Cornue range, and a Calcutta gold marble backsplash.
Elizabeth designed the kitchen island using antique table legs and salvaged butcher block. Peter went dumpster diving for the wood to use for custom pieces, such as the custom island.
Framed antique Navy signal cards (representing the house number and family memebers' initials) hang above the master bedroom fireplace.
The couple added a master bath on the second floor, and converted attic space into a bunkroom. The bunkroom has six beds, each hung with nautifcal rope that was braided by a local fisherman.
Peter and Elizabeth's goal was to make the house look like it was built 300 years ago--only better. This included adding some modern amenities such as updated washrooms, like the girls' bath which features a Kohler sink. They researched authentic details even down to the window casings and cabinetry.
Elizabeth's muted palette of khaki and cream accented with natural materials (wool, jute, linen) infuses the interior with organic warmth and enhances the historic home's rustic atmosphere. Nautical touches reference Nantucket's seafarer history.
The couple recommends saving all hardwood flooring and anything that is old yet structurally sound when renovating a centuries-old house. But scrap anything that crumbles at first touch. Elizabeth and Peter replaces flaky plaster walls with hand-plastering, adding a little texture for an old (but not fake) look.
During the renovation process, the couple unearthed artifacts ranging from some 18th-century pottery bits to the home's original cooking hearth, which had been walled over.
The cooking fireplace discovered behind a wall now functions as the family's pizza oven.
New cedar-shake shingles on the exterior and roof echo the Nantucket vernacular style.