by Andrew Spencer
When you talk to Audrey Sterk about her latest interior design project, you hear the word “function” many times during the conversation. And honestly, it’s a refreshing word to hear from a designer, especially when so many interiors seem to be designed with a far less pragmatic approach in mind. “The project was all about the details,” Audrey said of the home. “Function was the primary consideration for that was the family’s vision.”
The home is owned by a couple with a very large family, and many of those family members are college students who have a large base of friends. And as the old saying goes, “You never know how many friends you have until you own a home on Nantucket.” And the homeowners’ family and friends are their passion, so the home’s interior had to be designed around big get-togethers, but at the same time, maintain an intimacy that wouldn’t make a small group seem out of place. Oh, yeah, and remember that function is very important. How’s that for a tall order?
In Audrey’s case, it wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle.“I wanted to produce something that would enhance the experience of being on Nantucket for the family and their friends,” she explained. “The focal point of the interior is the magnificent view.
As you walk in the front door, you’re looking right at the water. It’s incredible. We tried to keep the inside quiet so as to reflect the peaceful scene you see outside while still celebrating the view.”
Even the best of views don’t take the place of things like eating and sitting down, however, so there was more to this project than just highlighting the watery vista just beyond the windows. And with the aforementioned big family with lots of friends—not to mention the sheer amount of space of the interior—the home needed a big dining room table. Specifically, a table that could seat 14 people that could also be used for smaller dining events. Audrey’s ingenious solution was a custom-made dining room table that could be extended to fit 14 diners or have the extension removed for fewer folks. And by making the table wide enough to fit two people at either end, the table isn’t inordinately long while setting for its maximum capacity.
The dining room wasn’t the only clever trick Audrey pulled out for this project. In the living room, a custom coffee table provides room underneath for four seats that roll out when needed. And so, visitors could sit and enjoy the view without turning their backs on those in the communal living room, Audrey installed swivel chairs along the windows looking out on the water to allow guests to turn and engage in conversation then turn and admire the view, all without leaving the comfort of their chairs.
One element of the home that might have been problematic for a lesser talent was the high ceilings. As Audrey explained, “Tall ceilings can be a challenge for acoustics. Sound gets lost in the space above your head. So, we brought in specific kinds of rugs and fabric to help support comfortable conversation.”
Everywhere you look in this interior, not only are you struck by the beauty of everything, but also, the functionality of it. Whether it’s the rugs grounding the acoustics or the special seating arrangements or even the mirrored subway tiles that help to widen a particular area, functionality is the common element that runs throughout. And that’s exactly what Audrey had in mind when she created the space: “When a space functions, it is in perfect harmony.”
In addition to being functional and harmonious, the space is also very sophisticated, and that meant the need for an anchor of sorts. For Audrey, that was an abstract painting by local artist Joanna Kane. Audrey said of the piece, “Artwork is so important to a space and it reflects the personality of the artist and of the homeowner.”
The end result was an interior that manifested the homeowners’ vision of the essence of Nantucket. “When you walk in and see the ocean, you have a reaction that is specific to you. It’s subjective. Part of my job is to interpret what the client wants, to create a space based on their needs and desires. Also it is to interpret their reaction to the view, their individual feelings about Nantucket. I build a relationship with my clients, and through that, I learn about those feelings and then I translate them to an interior space.”
All the vision and ideas of an interior designer aren’t nearly as important as the opinion of the people who are actually going to be living in the home. And in this case, Audrey hit the bullseye. The family adores their magnificent interior, which is what drives Audrey Sterk to do what she does. “My best day is to deliver a project to happy clients,” she said.
Photography by Read McKendree
Interior Design by Audrey Sterk
Design/Build by Shelter 7
Styling by Frances Bailey
Article edited. Full version available in ONLY NANTUCKET SUMMER 2020