A builder and a property owner walk into a bar . . .
You can probably guess the rest. It’s how Josh Flanders came to build Andrea and David Attisani’s summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. Andrea, who had been home in Wellesley that evening, initially balked at hiring a stranger to build the couple’s dream house. David felt otherwise. “My husband said he had a good feeling about Josh,” Andrea says.
The couple, who have three children, ages 23, 21, and 17, along with two goldendoodles, Tashmoo (named after a lake on the island) and Ringo (not named for the Beatle), are grateful for that serendipitous meeting. Josh Flanders would not only construct their cedar shingle four-bedroom, he also introduced them to Chuck Sullivan, the local architect they commissioned to design it. And the interiors? As co-owners of Blue Jay Design, Andrea and her business partner, Jessica Del Prete, had that covered.
Taking cues from West Tisbury’s pastoral feel and the Attisanis’ desire for ample sunlight, Sullivan designed a farmhouse with a modern bent. “Instead of running a large stone chimney up the outside of the house, I added a tower element to incorporate the chimney as a twist,” Sullivan says. The Attisanis loved the concept. “The tower feature made an otherwise traditional exterior more modern,” Andrea says.
To realize Andrea’s vision for light, bright, and airy rooms that felt casual and inviting while still offering standout moments, the designers exercised restraint. “We had to be very disciplined so as not to go overboard,” Del Prete says. “We were judicious about where and when to use texture and color.” So that the rooms would not read stark or pristine, they started with a warm white shell — Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White on the walls and a whitewash-style finish on the oak floors — punctuated by natural wood and nickel gap planks. The reclaimed window that overlooks the living room from the second floor adds character, too.
A reclaimed fir screen that shields the stairway in the entry is a unique but understated wow moment. “I prefer stairs that are tucked away,” Sullivan says. “And the reclaimed fir brings the barn element of the building inside.” Fir ceiling beams pull visitors into the dining area at the center of the main living space, where a nickel gap ceiling defines it and brings down the scale. It also breaks up what would have been a too-big expanse of plaster. Windsor chairs surround a reclaimed oak Parsons table under a pair of bent birch pendants, echoing the slatted screen by the stair. “These vertical patterns create a wonderful rhythm,” Del Prete says.
Nautical blues accent both ends of the great room, referencing the coastal location. In the kitchen, Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy colors the base cabinets and island, which are topped with family-friendly Caesarstone. “The kids said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t get a counter we can’t use!’” Andrea says. When it came to the seating arrangement, Andrea imagined life as an empty nester. “Instead of lining up five stools,” she says, “I put two on the corner to create a nice spot for two to eat dinner.”
The double-height living room is the belly of the tower and heart of the home. Contemporary-style windows soar and sunlight suffuses the space. The fireplace, made by local stonemason Seth Abbott from granite slabs and beach rocks, is the focal point. The granite ledge of the hearth wraps the corner, creating a companion bench to the coveted window seat. “I read or listen to podcasts there with the sun beaming in,” Andrea says. “You almost feel like you’re outside.”
In anticipation of spending more time on Martha’s Vineyard when they retire, the Attisanis wanted an accessible first-floor master suite. It has the same airy vibe as the rest of the house, with a cathedral ceiling, corner windows, and a nickel gap feature wall. “You come in behind the bed, which maximizes the view,” Sullivan says. “We put a built-in dresser on the flip side so they don’t need furniture. I like the cleanliness of it.”
There are three bedrooms with en suite baths for the kids on the second floor, all of which can double as guest rooms. These days, however, the kids are around all the time. “We have cocktails on the patio, grill the fish my husband catches as well as our local farmer’s market haul, and take our little boat to the barrier beach across Tisbury Great Pond,” Andrea says. “It’s all such a cool experience.”
Architect: Sullivan + Associates, sullivanassociatesarchitects.com
Interior designer: Blue Jay Design, bluejaydesign.net
Contractor: Flanders & Crew
Cabinetmaker: Dillon Creations
Landscaper: Millers Pro Landscape, millersprolandscape.com
Stonemason: Seth Abbott
Marni Elyse Katz is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.