The words summer home conjure sun-soaked days and beach breezes—basically an indoor-outdoor disconnect from the world. Before the design and architectural firm Kureck Jones got to work on this Martha’s Vineyard house, built in the early 2000s, it was the opposite of a breezy vacation home. “It was a dated warren of rooms, really dark and internal,” says John Kureck.
As renters, the clients had loved the house for its right-near-the-water location, and they considered starting fresh by building instead of renovating. However, that would have taken an eternity: New construction is often a three-year process in these parts, not to mention the two-year permit wait to put in a swimming pool. So Kureck Jones worked with Holmes Hole Builders to gut the property and “completely open it up” for an airier, beachy feeling.
Because the family had worked with Kureck Jones before, they gave the firm carte blanche, only visiting twice during the process. Kureck and his partner, Doug Jones, dug in, not for a simple nip and tuck but full-on reconstructive surgery. “We stripped it to the absolute,” says Jones. “We started from scratch.”
The ultimate goal: Make the house brighter, more family-friendly, and better focused on the panoramic ocean views beyond. So they moved the kitchen (it now opens out to the pool), added a screened porch, and replaced all 40 of the home’s small, old windows. Most of the main level’s walls were then paneled in natural ash wood, and since many of the contractors they hired were shipbuilders, the final effect is that of a boat’s hull. “Even at night, the house has a sort of golden glow to it,” Kureck says.
In a place this relaxed, you shouldn’t have to cry over spilled mojitos, especially when you’re likely to loan the place out to friends. Low-maintenance finishes were in order. Kureck Jones opted for easily swept painted-wood floors and kitchen counters made of PaperStone, which is fabricated from compressed recycled paper and is essentially immortal. So, too, is the dining table, a Carlo Scarpa design from the 1970s made of solid travertine. The family even ordered an extra set of covers for the B&B Italia sofa in the living room, so that if a stain should befall one cushion, it could be replaced from the same dye lot. And since there was little need for a full mudroom to house heavy coats (this being a summer home and all), Kureck Jones installed simple ash hooks and a built-in bench with drawers in the entryway, for stashing cell-phone chargers and sunscreen.
Ingeniously, the pair used color to make the house feel brighter. “You can’t paint a room white, and put white furniture in it, and automatically have it read as light,” Kureck explains, pointing out the black-and-white flower artwork in the dining room and the inky fireplace base. “The trick to lightness is actually contrast.”