By connecting the indoor-outdoor spaces and restyling the interiors, a Martha’s Vineyard summer home is ready for entertaining.By Lenore Cullen Barnes • Photography by Greg Premru
Summer afternoon,” Henry James famously observed, are two of the most beautiful words in the English language. Add Martha’s Vineyard to summer afternoon and the image grows even lovelier. One Boston-based family has been cherishing time on the Vineyard for the past decade, and a recent home renovation has upped the already high pleasure factor.
With the primary goal of improving indoor-outdoor flow, the homeowners consulted with Treffle LaFleche, principal of LDa Architecture and Interiors. One of their daughters had worked at LDa, so they were familiar with the firm. Additionally, the wife had accumulated an extensive photo file of homes she liked and more than half turned out to be by LDa. “I really love their aesthetic,” she says. According to LaFleche, “[The wife] was a real contributing component to the success of the project. She has very good taste and is tuned in to the nuances of the home, which was really instrumental in getting us up to speed.”
“We loved our house, but everyone always wanted to hang out in the kitchen and my husband would be relegated to the grill outside, alone,” the wife explains. “We wanted to create a space where we could all be hanging out with him while he grilled.” This led to the “evolution of the porch,” explains LaFleche. “They wanted room to cook, barbecue and lounge free from bugs, which led to the screening. You get protection from the sun but benefit from the air.”
In the new space, the husband now takes center stage at the porch’s built-in grill, which is vented through a poured-concrete chimney. “[The wife] particularly wanted us to explore some more contemporary forms,” says LaFleche. “The chimney provides a dramatic focal point.”
The concept of the screened porch prompted renovation of the kitchen, which LaFleche describes as small and disconnected from the other rooms and outdoor living spaces. Bumping out the kitchen five feet at the rear of the house and adding the screened porch behind it transformed the space and improved flow. The added kitchen space is topped by a flat, higher ceiling with skylights that flood the room with light. White oak floors were custom stained to produce an antique gray, whitewashed look. Silestone counters and a marble-topped island provide ample surfaces for food prep and serving.
The most dramatic change in the look and flow of the home, according to LaFleche, resulted from removing existing walls between the sunroom, living room and kitchen/dining space.
“The sunroom, living room and kitchen are now all visually connected,” LaFleche explains. “They now feel like one interconnected space, expansive and casual.” Which is exactly what the couple wanted. “From the front door, the line of sight is perfect,” says the wife. “You look straight out to the backyard, giving the feeling that you’re inside and outside of the house at the same moment.”
Sophisticated, beach-y chic
Jayme Kennerknecht, interior designer at LDa, worked with the wife to achieve a “sophisticated, beach-y chic” ambience by incorporating stylish yet durable furnishings. “The primary focus was to look well composed, thoughtful and unique, but not have to worry about usability,” said Jayme Kennerknecht. “She wanted family and friends to be comfortable and was adamant about having multiple seating arrangements.”
This premise translated into a custom-designed dining table surrounded by outdoor chairs with arms to “encourage lingering.” A custom game table is the same width as the dining table so the two can be paired together when a crowd gathers. Four Havana chairs surround the square game table, built to the wife’s specifications, which ensure that Monopoly and backgammon boards fit perfectly.
In the sunroom, four teak-framed swivel rockers, upholstered in a linen-toned Sunbrella fabric, form a conversational grouping around a tree stump coffee table.
Jayme Kennerknecht refreshed the living room by recovering the original sofa in white Sunbrella, whitewashing the brick fireplace, and updating the mantel finish to be more consistent with the richer wood tones.
A generous wicker sectional with indigo cushions invites late afternoon naps on the porch. But it’s not always a lazy spot; this is also where family and friends gather to socialize and support their chef at the grill.
“We achieved our goal 150 percent,” says the husband. “We moved back in around July 4th and had a crowd of people here. There were 25 people eating and it didn’t feel crowded. Everyone had a place to sit.”
LaFleche attributes the project’s success to a collaborative effort. He credits contractor/builder John Early and his team for being “great craftsmen” and landscape architect Matthew Cunningham for his critical role in the landscape design.
No one’s happier than the family who gets to enjoy the fruits of their labors. “LDa is so great to work with,” the wife says. “They were attentive, responsive and so creative in resolving issues. They’re such a pleasure to work with.”