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A Designer's Nantucket Summer Home

It’s back-and-forth for Susan Zises Green and her family between their neighboring Nantucket homes

Written by Krissa Rossbund
  • Eric Roth

    One famous and spirited Thanksgiving song declares that the way to grandmother’s house is over the river and through the woods. But for New York interior designer Susan Zises Green, the trek involves far less rugged terrain. With only 20 steps between her own Nantucket back door and the summer home of her two children and their families, Susan interacts with her brood almost daily—and truth be told, she is typically the one making the visit.

    Her beloved relationship with Nantucket started when she was introduced to the idyllic island as a young adult. So it seemed only natural that the storied New England destination, affectionately called “The Grey Lady” for its ubiquitous fog, would host subsequent generations of the family too. “I always tell my friends—New York is where I sleep, but Nantucket is where I live,” Susan says.

    The home’s original wide pine floorboards gleam in the sun shining through the door’s sidelights, which wear their own interior shutters. 

    Photography: Eric Roth
    Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick

    Interior designer: Susan Zises Green, Susan Zises Green Inc. Interior Design & Decoration, 525 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10018; 212/710-5388, susanzisesgreen.com.  

    Hanging light; console table; mirror above console; chair: antique.
    Pair of hurricanes: Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com.
    Screens at door (unfinished wood): custom. 

  • Eric Roth

    Delightful Entry

    In 1995, a spontaneous real estate purchase left Susan with a tiny Nantucket weekend house that would have resulted in buyer’s remorse for many, especially a designer with a vast inventory of treasured acquisitions. The house’s limited square footage offered less-than-desirable accommodations for guests, namely her children and grandchildren. So, as mothers do, Susan found a solution.

    “I asked the owners of the dilapidated and vacant house behind me if I could buy it, but they declined my offer,” she says. “But three years later, they called to ask if I was still interested, and I said yes. I kept my house, and bought the house behind me for my kids—all over the phone!”

    Tole flowers in painted clay pots line the stairway. 

    Carved post for stair railing (antique): original to house. 
    Wallpaper (#W3011-81, discontinued): Kravet, kravet.com.
    Bird prints (antique): through Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com

  • Eric Roth

    Functional Table

    When it came time to begin designing the interiors (Susan’s renovation start date was based on when her children started having children—no pressure, of course), she was committed to incorporating the Americana she had collected for years. She understood, though, that decorating for young people meant a look that was a little cleaner, contemporary, and sleeker. 

    A functional round table with an iron base in the center of the living room provides a spot for dining or for Susan Zises Green’s granddaughters to draw.

    Paint (“Decorators White”): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    Center table (“Chaparral Table” #515); chairs (“Russian Sunburst Chairs” #M-179, discontinued); chair-seat fabric (“Basic Linen Weave”/Alabaster #PHBL-103): McGuire, mcguirefurniture.com.
    Snail statue on table (child’s rocking horse, antique); tables flanking door (antique); mirrors; green vases: Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com.
    Area rug at entrance (antique): owner’s collection.

  • Eric Roth

    Stylish Living Room

    Case in point: the living room. The striking white, black, and gold palette was drawn from a church Susan visited years prior in Sicily. In her modernized interpretation, she complemented the arrangement of dark wicker furniture covered in white outdoor upholstery with a black-and-white wool rug of offset stripes. In need of a fashionable twist, she accented the furniture with pink pillows recycled from her New York apartment and black-dotted pillows that happily signal the relaxed attitude of the house. The antique ottoman marries the past with the present, showing off a floral hooked rug used to upholster its top. The center of the room transitions to a vibe that is ever-so-slightly formal, where symmetry is established from a round table flanked by a pair of Federal-style reproduction mirrors and antique marble-top tables.

    Folk art, including a portrait by Sally Avery and a painting by William Hawkins, adds color to the living room’s black-and-white scheme. 

    Wall paint (“Decorators White”): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    Rattan sofa (“Toboggan”/Cordovan finish #WS 52, Jacques Garcia Collection, discontinued); chairs (“Toboggan”/Cordovan finish  #WS 50, Jacques Garcia Collection, discontinued); fabric on sofas and chairs (“Basic Linen Weave”/Alabaster #PHBL103): McGuire Furniture, mcguirefurniture.com.
    Pair of slipper chairs (Billy Baldwin chairs from 1960s): vintage.
    Black-and-white pillows (“Double Dotty”): Peter Fasano, peterfasano.com.
    Pink pillows (discontinued): Clarence House, clarencehouse.com.
    Ottoman: antique.
    Ottoman fabric, top: hooked rug.
    Ottoman fabric, sides: original to ottoman.
    Area rug: ABC Carpet & Home, abchome.com.
    Chest: owner’s collection.
    Sailor statue (wooden statue of Lord Nelson): antique.
    Art above chest (by Sally Avery); art behind console (Outsider Art by William Hawkins): owner’s collection.
    Pair of benches; console table: antique.
    Lamps on console: Daniel Barney Antiques, danielbarney.com.
    Chairs flanking console (“Russian Sunburst Chairs” #M-179, discontinued): McGuire, mcguirefurniture.com.

  • Eric Roth

    Spacious Kitchen

    For this extended family who often entertains with catered parties, a sizable kitchen was imperative. A decrepit old barn on the property was beyond repair, but the area where it stood provided the necessary square footage to create a cavernous kitchen, pending approval from the Nantucket Historic District Commission to tear down the aging structure. Their assent allowed Susan to build the kitchen addition in that space. The architecture of the newly updated shiplap-walled room with soaring ceilings mimics the lines of the barn, so its history is not forgotten.

    Susan discovered the wooden plaque bearing the word “lucky” at a local antiques show.

  • Eric Roth

    Soaring Ceiling

    Crowned with a dramatic vaulted, stained-wood ceiling, the kitchen features white shiplap walls, an island topped with a single piece of wood found in upstate New York, and wicker furniture. The antique chandelier descends and rises via an electric winch. 

    Wall paint (“Decorators White”): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    Finish on ceiling: custom stain.
    Cabinetry (custom); sailboat shadow boxes (antique); chandelier (custom); side chairs: Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com.
    Sconces at window: Val Maitino Antiques, valmaitinoantiques.com.
    Range: Wolf, subzero-wolf.com.
    Dining table; host chair (copy of antique at the Nantucket Historical Association Museum); blue-and-white ginger jars (antique): owner’s collection. 

  • Eric Roth

    Dining Room

    English oak chairs surround a white octagonal table in the adjoining dining space. 

    Dining table: Laurin Copen Antiques, laurincopenantiques.com.
    Dining chairs: Ann-Morris, ann-morris.com.
    Chandelier; console table; art above console (from Rafael Osona Auction, Nantucket): owner’s collection.
    Area rug (custom stenciled cowhide): Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com.  

  • Eric Roth

    Powder room 

    A collection of found objects adds to the personality of the home, from a pond boat that’s moored on top of a cookbook cabinet in the kitchen, to vintage bathing suits framed and hung in the guest room, and metal silhouette candlesticks in the powder room.

    The original attic floor was repurposed on the powder room’s walls and ceiling. Mirrored sconces from Vaughan add sparkle to the rustic surfaces.

    Wall tiles (wood shiplap): horizontal wood boards.
    Sconces (“Tole & Mirror Wall Light”/Tortoiseshell #WA0068.TO): Vaughan, vaughandesigns.com.
    Vanity cabinet (custom): Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com.
    Sink; faucets: Waterworks, waterworks.com.
    Mirror: antique.  

  • Eric Roth

    Upstairs Landing

    An American-made hat stand displays straw hats against daintily-patterned wallpaper.

    Wallpaper (#W3011-81, discontinued): Kravet, kravet.com.
    Hat rack (antique); bird prints (antique): through Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com.

  • Eric Roth

    Master Bedroom

    Sweet pink accents rule in the master bedroom. The star of the show, however, is the shell-encrusted chest.

    Wallpaper (hand-painted, custom): through Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com.
    Drapery: discontinued.
    Drapery trim (“1.5-inch Cambridge Strie Braid”/Shrimp): Samuel & Sons, samuelandsons.com.
    Chaise; floor lamp; throw on chair (antique quilt); orange side table (antique); candlesticks; art above chest (by Mellie Cooper): owner’s collection.
    Chaise fabric (“Shabby”/Impatience #F2484021): Pierre Frey, pierrefrey.com.
    Pillow on chaise: D. Porthault, dporthaultparis.com.
    Throw on chaise (custom, silk and mohair); table (antique); chair at table (antique); pink quilt (antique); blanket at end of bed  (from India); shell-encrusted chest: through Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com.
    Chair-seat fabric (“Ceylan” #19336-275, discontinued): Zimmer + Rohde, zimmer-rohde.com

  • Eric Roth

    Guest Room

    “Low ceilings made this space a little jewel box,” says Susan of the guest bedroom, which is wrapped in a black-and-white floral trellis pattern on the walls and ceiling with window panels and a bed skirt that match. A rush headboard from Pottery Barn adds natural texture. Vintage bathing suits and an imposing pond boat nod to life on the water.  

    Wallpaper (“Biscay”/Black Pearl #BR-69285.911); drapery and bed-skirt fabric (“Biscay Linen” #BR-79418, colorway discontinued): Brunschwig & Fils, brunschwig.com.
    Drapery hardware (custom); area rug (custom): through Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com.
    Duvet and bed linens (“Mel”/Black on Ivory): Traditions by Pamela Kline, traditionslinens.com.
    Blanket: Brahms Mount, brahmsmount.com.
    Window shade: discontinued.
    Headboard (“Corbin”): Pottery Barn, potterybarn.com.
    Art behind bed: Artists Assoc. of Nantucket, nantucketarts.org.
    Bedside chest; chair (antique); table; sailboat; framed bathing suits: owner’s collection.
    Table lamp (“Delft”): Christopher Spitzmiller, christopherspitzmiller.com.

  • Eric Roth

    Kids' Room

    Playful color and pattern are appropriate in the grandkids' room. Children's artwork on the walls lends a happy touch.

    Paint (“Decorators White”): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
    Drapery and bed-skirt fabric (custom): Tillett Textiles, t4fabrics.com.
    Drapery trim (“1.5-inch French Grosgrain Ribbon #977-44932-246): Samuel & Sons, samuelandsons.com.
    Drapery hardware (custom): through Susan Zises Green Inc., susanzisesgreen.com.
    Bed quilts: antique.
    Blankets at end of beds: Roberta Roller Rabbit, robertarollerrabbit.com.
    Striped pillow shams; bedside table; green demilune (antique); figures on demilune; area rug: owner’s collection.
    Floral pillow shams (“Butterfly Island Cream” #DF-ST-SO-0009-0347, by Zoya Bograd): Rooms by Zoya B, roomsbyzoyab.com

  • Eric Roth

    Nantucket Home

    The Shaker-style summer house that Susan’s children enjoy was built in the 1820s. 

  • Eric Roth

    Portrait

    Now, years later, Susan’s granddaughters walk to her house daily for morning tea parties, and she maintains her part-time office in her children’s home. She can’t imagine a more ideal situation.

    “Being neighbors with my family is the ultimate luxury,” Susan says. “We live in a world where people are stretched across the globe and families don’t see each other as much as they want. I feel so blessed to have mine close.”

    Designer Susan Zises Green relaxes in the garden.​

  • John Bessler