Three years ago, I had the privilege of featuring a tour of designer Jane Ellsworth‘s beautiful Darien, Connecticut home… It is hands-down one of my all time favorites, and over the years Jane’s Instagram account has become a daily source of inspiration. From decorating to gardening to floral arrangements, her taste is impeccable. Today, Jane is giving us a very special treat… an exclusive tour of her storied Nantucket home, and oh my goodness, it is stunning! The attention to detail is spectacular, and every single inch was meticulously curated and customized to her family’s lifestyle. Jane’s prized collections and antiques are full of stories and memories, and the garden is a little slice of heaven. Let’s take a virtual vacation to Nantucket, with Jane as our guide! Photography by Richard Mandelkorn was provided exclusively to The Glam Pad and may not be reproduced without permission.
TGP: Please tell me about your Nantucket home’s history.
JE: There is quite a storied history about our house dating back to 1847, when William Chadwick, a cashier for the Pacific Bank was charged with embezzling money to build our home. His original plan was to build a men’s resort on the eastern side of the island in an area called Squam. Once convicted he ended up in the local ” Old Gaol”, where he was visited by his family daily, bringing him gifts to improve his life. One of his favorite pursuits was lightship basketry. Being a model prisoner, Chadwick had his sentenced reduced to three years by order of President Grover Cleveland. Our home ultimately was named “Chadwick’s Folly” by the locals. The house became a landmark for many map makers for it was one of the tallest buildings seen from the shore, and used as a guide for sea fairing vessels. The notation on the map is, “Folly Cupola”.
Over the years, the house now called “The Folly” had become a series of layered renovations and once we purchased the property in 2013, we knew this was a complete tear down and a new home was in our future. We instinctively reached out to the architectural design team of Lisa Botticelli and Ray Pohl of Botticelli of Botticelli and Pohl. My husband and I have collaborated with them on two other projects and knew they were a perfect fit for designing our home because of their strong aesthetic sensibilities and penchant for detail. Plus we liked their sense of humor which is key for a long project as we cannot take ourselves too seriously.
TGP: What was your inspiration for the design of the home?
JE: There were a number of inspirations guiding us for this project based on years of thinking ” if we were ever to build another home”. The main element was the desire to have a Gambrel Style home. The Gambrel is one of the prettiest and most varied vernacular house styles and we knew this was exactly what fit the site. No doubt helped by Ray saying, ” it’s his favorite style too!”
With this in mind, I always wanted to create an entrance which made you feel like you were on a large sailing ship of years past (much of like the Marine art we collect), with paneling from floor to ceiling or at least to the second story. Throughout the entrance the millwork highlights many details especially noting the arches and the jib doors. I simply love the idea of providing a “camouflage” for an entrance or a secret room. In this case, it is the powder room off the main foyer, and entrance to our bar.
One final thought, based on a previous home designed by Ray and Lisa (a design request by me) to create an enfilade from one side of the house to another allowing a series of arches to draw you from room to room effortlessly. This design element creates such fabulous light, texture, and effectively gives you an infinitely long vista.
TGP: What are some of your favorite things to collect?
JE: My husband and I are avid collectors of Marine Art, both old masters and contemporary artists. Over the year, our collections have grown and once we moved into this house, we consolidated our art to be housed under one roof. Many of the wall colors in our public rooms were selected to enhance the art. I found myself gravitating to Donald Kaufman paints, which are so layered and subtle. My husband and I like to support local artists, so many of the contemporary art and folk art is from the island either purchased at galleries or at auction. In addition, we collect ship models, all built on the island starting from the mid 1860’s, and they are displayed throughout the house each with it’s own stand and custom glass to protect their delicate nature. On a smaller scale, I am completely in love with the art and craftsmanship of the lightship baskets which are such a part of the history of this island. They are prominently displayed throughout the house and happy to know they are all from local craftsmen.
TGP: Your gardens are exquisite! Did you design them too, and what was your inspiration?
JE: My husband and I are garden enthusiasts! He has such a fabulous design aesthetic for planning outdoor spaces. I am passionate about the selection of species and color palette. With the collaboration of our landscape architect, Ben Champoux, we put our heads together and plotted the placement of key elements like our pool and some of our layered gardens which I wanted surrounding the house. I especially love surprises when it comes to gardening, with little secret vistas as you walk the property. While the ocean is the guiding focal point, a true seaside garden is filled with multi layers of color, texture and aromas. We are constantly tweaking the gardens, as we learn what is working and what areas need enhancement. In addition, we have a pair of beehives and with the nature of cross-pollination it essentially allows the bees to produce more seeds. It’s a win win for us, as the bee gets the nutrients they need, and our garden ends up with more flowers and plants! Our name has a copyright so it makes the most wonderful gifts!
TGP: How did you learn to create such beautiful flower arrangements?
JE: My love of gardening and flower arranging came from my mother. Over much of my childhood and into my late teens, I watched her cultivating our gardens ( my sister and I always got weeding duty). She would bring baskets full of flowers to arrange and scatter them around the house. Always the perfect vessel for the flower of the week, especially putting scented flowers in bedrooms and side tables to enjoy. There was always something fresh and visually enticing. While her arrangements were not fancy, they always caught your eye. Her famous line, is to always make sure, ” a bird or butterfly” can fly through your arrangement.
TGP: What are your favorite things to do in Nantucket?
JE: What a difficult question when the island offers so much! Putting my family aside which is our all time favorite pastime whether it’s playing golf, water sports, sitting/playing on the beach, barbequing or watching our grandchildren experience the island delights! My most favorite pastime is playing golf at the best golfing spot in the world, Sankaty with family and friends, keeping up with my water color studies, photographing the island, reading a book on the beach, and spending time in my gardens.
TGP: Is there anything else you would like to add?
JE: Nantucket is truly an old soul with a storied architectural history some of which we tried to create when designing and building our house. While this is a relatively new home, much of the details with it’s antique floors, period hardware, antique delft tiles, millwork were essential to creating something timeless, “A new old home”. Much of the research I gathered over the years, culminated in this project. Many of the craftsmen working on this house are true masters of their craft and they were all locally sourced which made my husband and I very proud to say, we have “a home on a very far away island”.
Absolutely divine, I cannot imagine a more perfect Nantucket home! To learn more about Jane Ellsworth, please visit her website and follow @janeellsworthinteriors on Instagram… her beautiful floral arrangements always brighten my day! Also, you won’t want to miss this tour of her Connecticut home. And a huge thank you to Richard Mandelkorn for the photography!