You are here

Nantucket Summer Home

Encircled by porches, a handsome seaside home is perfectly sophisticated

Written by Krissa Rossbund
  • John Bessler

    Not long after they were married, Charles and Jane Forman fell in love all over again. The object of their passion? The island of Nantucket. The couple made their virgin voyage to the coveted Massachusetts vacation spot in the mid-1970s as newlyweds. They were smitten with the charming, storybook location, and the following year, when Charles's Chicago-based family was planning a reunion, the couple persuaded them to consider Nantucket. The idyllic summer place proved to be a hit with the extended family, too.

    Over the following summers, the Formans rented a variety of Nantucket houses. In 1984, a series of rainy days led the pair to spend time investigating real estate opportunities. "What began as a rainy-day activity turned serious," says Jane. "We bought a house right then." For more than two decades, that cozy beach cottage served their needs well. But by 2006, their elder son, Tom, had two children, and the search for a larger place was on.

    Finding the perfect house wasn't as easy as Charles and Jane had anticipated. Not only did it need to accommodate guests, it needed to be comfortable and cozy for times when the two were there alone.

    While hunting for their new home, the couple became intrigued by a house under construction. They assumed it was sold, but a casual inquiry revealed otherwise: The structure was, in fact, a builder's spec house--and available. They immediately snagged the property and had the builder finish the interiors to their particular specifications.

    "Buying this house really saved us time," says Jane. "If you build on Nantucket, you have to commit to a five-year process while applications make their way through various boards and commissions. All of that paperwork was already done."

    Today, the multigabled house is encircled by porches and clad in Nantucket's traditional gray shingles accented with crisp white trim. Jane, a semiretired interior designer who has worked out of an office in Boston for years, added polish to the interior with crown molding, paneling, and other architectural elements. She decorated the rooms to reflect Nantucket history and culture, a delightful task for a woman who's a lifelong collector.

    After the Formans took charge of the building project, they reconfigured rooms on the main floor for better flow. Walls originally planned to enclose the dining room were eliminated. Instead, the dining area, with its 11-foot-long trestle table built to seat 14, opens to the kitchen on one side and the family room on the other.

    The family room glows with a warm palette. A sectional sofa, covered in large-scale yellow-and-cream checks, anchors the seating arrangement.

    While the builders were working on the kitchen, Jane ensured there was room for her blue-painted hutch that houses a collection of mochaware. Cabinetry and the walnut-topped island base were painted classic white, so Jane's other folk art finds would take the spotlight. Bar stools, cushioned in yellow checks, are suggestive of the family room upholstery fabric.

    Upstairs, a cooler color scheme quietly rolls in like a mist off the water. The "map room," distinguished by a mural of Nantucket painted on the wall and a breathtaking sunset view from a private deck, serves as a formal living room despite its second-floor location. The furniture is sophisticated, handsome, and aptly upholstered for a seaside home. A nautical pattern covers a wing chair and ottoman, and matching armchairs offer a whiff of Hermès, with a linen-and-leather upholstery treatment.

    The stylish master bedroom owes its panache to the black-and-cream toile that Jane used for the headboard, pillows, and window treatments. "I wanted something that was peaceful, and I had already used enough blue and white," she says.

    "Our time on Nantucket has grown from just the summer months to additional months now that we have retired," says Jane. "The house has made this stage of our life so special, because it represents additions to our family." The Formans, now settled into their home, look forward to writing the next chapter of memories.

    Photography: John Bessler
    Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick

    Architects: Botticelli & Pohl, 82 Easton St., Nantucket, MA 02554; 508/228-5455,
    Interior design: Jane Forman, Jane P. Forman Interior Design, 120 Seaver St., Brookline, MA 02445; 617/738-6424.
    Interior cabinetry and lighting design: Mark Howland, Howland Architecture Studio, 15 Pleasant Ave., Somerville, MA 02143; 617/661-2030,

  • John Bessler

    The floor of the screened porch is covered with an indoor-outdoor rug inscribed in French with a story about an ant and a grasshopper. "We keep trying to translate it," Jane smiles. The airy screened room is conveniently accessed from the kitchen.

    Wicker furniture: Mainly Baskets, 877/702-5654,
    Striped cushion, striped pillow ("Mediterranean"/Canvas Block Stripe #4921-0000): Sunbrella, 336/221-2211,
    Floral pillow: Pottery Barn, 800/922-5507,
    Ceiling fixture: Newton Electrical Supply, 617/527-2040,
    Coffee table: Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836,
    Rug ("Le Poeme Indoor/Outdoor Rug" #RT102): Ballard Designs, 800/536-7551,
    Lady (Santo of Safe Travels): FDO Collections, 617/737-2800,

  • John Bessler

    "This is where everyone hangs out," says Jane Forman of the family room, where furniture is clad in fabrics that can stand up to kids coming straight from the beach. The room is also a stylish repository for Jane's collection of folk art, including a carved man holding a sextant in one corner, and a wooden bell atop the stair's newel.

    Sofa (custom): Kravet, 888/457-2838,
    Sofa fabric ("Hopscotch," discontinued): Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996,
    Red pillow on sofa ("Pastorale"/Multi, Red #10681-01); chenille pillow (discontinued): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900,
    Table lamp behind sofa (antique jar made into lamp); lampshade: Blanche P. Field LLC, 617/423-0715,
    Club chairs: owner's collection.
    Chair fabric (by Anna French): through Thibaut, 800/379-6587,
    Wall covering: Stark Wall Coverings, 212/752-9000,
    Throw (from Pierre Frey showroom, Paris): owner's collection.
    Coffee table (custom): Art Applications Inc., 617/269-1432,
    Rooster: owner's collection.
    Copper-and-steel log carrier: Lexington Gardens, 212/861-4390.
    Woven nested Nantucket baskets (Bill and Judy Sayle, weavers): Four Winds Craft Guild, 508/228-9623.
    Antique weathervane: Skinner Inc., 617/350-5400.
    Redware plates on mantel: Nantucket Looms, 508/228-1908,
    Watercolor (flag and watermelon): Janice Aldridge Inc., 508/228-6673.
    Antique firebell: Cunha St. John & Vining Ltd., 617/720-7808.

  • John Bessler

    The fieldstone fireplace extends floor to ceiling. "I wanted a fireplace that exudes warmth even when it's not lit," Jane explains. "We designed the mantel to accommodate the TV and to signal that this room is informal."

    Sofa (custom): Kravet, 888/457-2838,
    Sofa fabric ("Hopscotch," discontinued): Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996,
    Red pillows on sofa ("Pastorale"/Multi, Red #10681-01): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900,
    Ottoman (custom); ottoman fabric ("Accent Weave"/Spice #25687-940): Kravet, 888/457-2838,
    Ottoman fringe: Brunschwig & Fils, 800/538-1880,
    Coffee table (custom): Art Applications Inc., 617/269-1432, Antique standing sailor: Paul Vandekar, Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge Inc., 212/308-2022.
    Rooster: owner's collection.
    Copper-and-steel log carrier: Lexington Gardens, 212/861-4390. .

  • John Bessler

    Painted in white, the kitchen reads clean but not sterile, with folk art finds peeking from every corner.

    Counter stools: Nadeau, 310/559-6326,
    Stool fabric ("Romany Star"/Beige #J285F-04, by Jane Churchill): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900,
    Light fixture: Urban Archaeology, 617/737-4646,
    Round table (custom): Gregory F. Wall Fine Furniture, 781/878-5002.
    Chairs: Louis J. Solomon, 212/545-9200,
    Chair-cushion fabric (by Jane Churchill): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900, .

  • John Bessler

    A painted hutch houses Jane's mochaware.

    Blue cabinet: owner's collection.
    Wool sorter: Victor Weinblatt Antiques, 413/533-6435. .

  • John Bessler

    The neutral dining room is interrupted with pleasing accents of teal on the chair seat fabric and old shutters hung on either side of the opening to the kitchen.

    Table (custom): Farmhouse Collection, 208/736-8700,
    Side chairs (custom): Art Applications Inc., 617/269-1432, Side-chair fabric ("Agra Woven Texture" #82387-222): Brunschwig & Fils, 800/538-1880,
    Orkney chairs: Mainly Baskets, 877/702-5654,
    Fabric on Orkney chairs ("Bayberry"/Blue #80054): Brunschwig & Fils, 800/538-1880,
    Iron chandelier (custom): The Martin Group, 617/951-2526.
    Rooster weathervane: Wayne Pratt Antiques, 203/263-5676, Shutters (antique): Nantucket Country Antiques, 508/228-8868,
    Drapery: Hinson & Co., 718/482-1100, .

  • John Bessler

    Adjacent to the family room,the library is a private refuge that's primarily used by Charles. Chocolate-colored sisal carpet, warm beige walls, natural matchstick blinds, and furniture upholstered in neutral tones make this a quiet, reflective room. Bookshelves provide space for Jane's collection of Central American folk art statues.

    Love seat: owner's collection. Love-seat fabric ("Brewster Chenille Herringbone" #9170, discontinued): Brunschwig & Fils, 800/538-1880,
    Pillows: chenille.
    Lounge chairs: owner's collection.
    Chair fabric, window-seat cushion ("Craigford Stripe" #1763-04): Summer Hill, 212/935-6376,
    Ottoman; desk; armchair at desk: owner's collection.
    Ottoman fabric: Calvin Fabrics, 888/732-1996,
    Wicker tray: The Lion's Paw, 508/228-3837.
    Seat cushion on armchair ("Isabelle Embroidered Matelassé): Schumacher, 800/523-1200,
    Built-in cabinetry, window seat design: Mark Howland, Howland Architecture Studio, 617/661-2030,
    Fabrication: Hoff Woodworking, 508/228-8577.
    Pillow on window seat: Schumacher, 800/523-1200,
    Wall finish: custom glaze.
    Shades: Barrows The Window Shoppe, 617/964-4580,

  • John Bessler

    More formal than the first-floor family room, the "map room" gets its name from a map discovered by Jane and Charles at a local library. It was then reproduced as a painting on the wall by artist Brian Nelson.

    Sofa (custom); sofa fabric (#22353-1116); cord trim (#T30184-106): Kravet, 888/457-2838,
    Twisted wood standing lamp: ICON Group, 617/428-0655.
    Chair opposite mantel: William Switzer, 604/255-5911, Chair fabric ("Cebu" #3021-02): Dedar, 800/493-2209.
    Chair leather ("Drake-66"): Kravet, 888/457-2838,
    Coffee table: Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836, Candlesticks and jars: Pottery Barn, 800/922-5507,
    Round box; sphere on coffee table: Expressions of Don Freedman, 508/228-3291. Cylinder: Nantucket Looms, 508/228-1908,
    Wing chair: Dennis & Leen, 310/652-0855, Wing-chair fabric ("Regates"/Sepia #F2360-002): Pierre Frey, 866/707-1524,
    Carpet: Williston Weaves, 617/969-5550.
    Lantern sconces: M-Geough, 617/451-1412,
    Mantel (custom): Mark Howland, Howland Architecture Studio, 617/661-2030,
    Fabrication: Hoff Woodworking, 508/228-8577,
    Fireplace tools: Adams Fireplace Shop, 617/547-3100,
    Wall map (handpainted by Brian Nelson): Brian Nelson, 508/344-7006.
    Paint: Benjamin Moore, 888/236-6667,

  • John Bessler

    A mahogany bed with barley-twist posts anchors the master bedroom, made dramatic by black-and-white toile.

    Bed: Leonard's New England, 888/336-8585,
    Headboard, drapery, and bolster-pillow fabric ("Bengali" /Black #69135-970): Brunschwig & Fils, 800/538-1880,
    Daybed design: Mark Howland, Howland Architecture Studio, 617/661-2030,
    Fabrication: Hoff Woodworking, 508/228-8577. Ticking stripe on daybed ("Streamer Ticking Stripe" #89616-970): Brunschwig & Fils, 800/538-1880,
    Wall covering (rattan woven grasscloth): Stark Wall Covering, 212/752-9000,
    Swing-arm lamps (by Hinson & Co.): Kravet, 888/457-2838.
    Picture and framing: Paul P. La Paglia Gallery, 508/228-8760.
    Étagère: Ballard Designs, 800/536-7551, Chaise ("Bolton Chaise," Las Palmas Collection): M-Geough, 617/451-1412,
    Chaise fabric ("Sharpei"/Creme #22918-16): Kravet, 888/457-2838, Checked pillow on chaise (Wainscott Check"): Schumacher, 800/523-1200,
    Wicker bedside table: Mainly Baskets, 877/702-5654,

  • John Bessler

    Starfish and a botanical print are the only ornamentation in the adjoining white bath.

    Tub: Billie Brenner Ltd., 617/348-2858,
    Fixtures, farmhouse sink (by Shaw): Rohl, 800/777-9762,
    Botanical: Lexington Gardens, 212/861-4390,

  • John Bessler

    The guest cottage echoes the main house's vernacular charm.

  • John Bessler

    With gardens, lawn, and flags that make classic accessories, the backyard salutes the nearby ocean.

  • John Bessler

    The Formans--Jane and husband Charles--enjoy the island environment from the comfortable wicker furniture cushioned in striped sailcloth on the breezy but sheltered porch.