Island homes are often either informal beach houses or Gatsby-esque grand estates. For this Martha’s Vineyard residence, interior designer Elizabeth Georgantas of GEORGANTAS Design + Development was challenged to come up with the perfect middle ground, something proper yet playful. Her clients, a finance executive and a retired ballerina, set out to create the ultimate playground for their family. The couple met, fell in love, and married on the island and had the opportunity to renovate an existing family house that was part of a compound set one pathway away from her parents. Drawing upon theatre and fantasy, they wanted to make every childhood dream come true for their two school-aged kids.
“We wanted something warm, yet welcoming, that could look clean and put together and speak to their character,” Georgantas says. “They’re serious about art, but they’re not serious people.”
Part of their not-so-serious fairytale wish list included a slide inspired by Carsten Holler, the German experiential sculptor whose slides are on display at the Tate Modern. The metal chute starts upstairs in the catwalk and twists down to a play space; it’s safe for kids and big enough for young-at-heart parents. The alternate route is the central spiral staircase that’s designed around a statue inspired by New York artist Alyson Shotz’s “Helix.”
But that’s the only surprise-and-delight moment tucked away there—the kids can race toy cars down the stairway’s secret track that’s hidden alongside the custom fish runner from The Rug Company. Underneath the stairs is another secret “Harry Potter” hideaway done in silver skull and cross bone wallpaper with crystal Jolly Roger sconces.
The shingled home’s natural curves enabled other fun hideaways, such as a children’s play loft in the shape of a boat, complete with a wooden later, mini lighthouse, and an actual old Fresnel light. Nearby walls are done in teak, while natural-fiber rope pendants were sourced from Etsy and hang over a window seat.
And proving it’s not just the kids who get all the fun, an office is tucked behind a swinging bookcase door with Ralph Lauren glow-in-the-dark constellation wallpaper. This is the only room where a TV exists, keeping it out of sight and out of mind. Rather than watching cartoons, the family focuses on books, which is why good reads are stashed in every room. Literally—the children’s guest room has red four-poster beds and colorful library wallpaper, and book nooks are set all over the house, including one with deep cushions for resting and taking in the ocean views.
“The clients have an integral love for this island with their family and personal history, it was most important to have a home that celebrated that and brought the outside in,” Elizabeth says. With tennis courts, veggie gardens, and summer chickens (courtesy of Rhent-a-Flock), there’s plenty to do outside, however Georgantas creatively pulled nature inside at every turn. The rooms that don’t share the living room or master bathtub’s enviable ocean views are treated with nature-inspired patterns everywhere; fish, birds, feathers, and lobsters are a few of the island creatures that grace the wallpaper and textiles throughout.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an island home without some nod to the ocean in the decor. Seaglass-inspired Wonderglass flow kitchen pendants, the fish-scale Mercury Mosaic tilebacksplash, and Hubert Le Gale whale chairs, give the home a nautical vibe without skewing campy. Shots of coral, red, and turquoise add brightness while porthole windows, jigsaw puzzle tables, hanging chairs, and ship lights lend even more artful whimsy that’s fun for any age. Best of all, the materials are durable, so while the house may look formal and proper, nothing’s off limits—and everyone gets to let loose and have a little fun.
“Everything is sand-proof, hand-proof, water-proof, and kid-proof,” Georgatas says. “We made this house for adults and children.”