Designer Audrey Sterk brings new life to Nantucket’s storied cottages at the Boat Basin with her new design, unveiled this spring.The
accommodations feature a color palette
of deep ocean blue, misty gray and stark
white PHOTO BY MATT KISIDAYThe accommodations feature a color palette of deep ocean blue, misty gray and stark white

For most of Audrey Sterk’s ( adult life, Nantucket’s harbor has served as the backdrop, a setting so familiar to her, it’s woven into the fabric of her days. She’s gazed upon the view from the decks of boats upon the water and while walking the island’s cobblestone streets. The scene became an inspiration for a mural she created that’s included in her Home Collection—a selection of wall coverings, fabrics and tables inspired by the spirit of Nantucket. The mural, entitled “First Settlers,” eventually became the foundation for her renovation of the 29 Boat Basin cottages that are part of the White Elephant Resorts. Although not included in Sterk’s original design presentation, the owners fell in love with the mural at her o ce studio. “The mural is of the harbor and the wharf and it depicts how Nantucket’s early days came to be,” says Sterk.

 every cottage has a harbor view PHOTO BY MATT KISIDAY
every cottage has a harbor view

Honoring the storied history of the cottages was very important to Sterk. In 1720, the wharf was at the center of Nantucket’s lucrative whaling industry and was the busiest whaling port in the world. By the mid 1960’s, the waterfront, which became known as the Nantucket Boat Basin, developed into a fisherman’s community and artist enclave with more than a dozen galleries lining the wharves. The cottages with names like Sea Syren, Essex and Orion are inspired by the names of the great whaling ships of the 1700s. “I love designing for historic homes and buildings. It’s a real honor to work on these beautiful structures that have been around for so long,” she says. She paid tribute to the buildings’ history by retaining as much of the original architecture that she could, like the vaulted ceiling beams and floor plans, to reflect the soul and the story of the charming little gems. She also worked hard to capture the cottage’s humble character by keeping things understated and laidback.

cottage has a
Each cottage has a unique layout

The interiors indicate nautical without screaming it. Sterk chose woven, stonewashed, chambray materials that feel infused with the passing of time. “These were fishing spots, they weren’t meant to be polished,” she says. The cottages aren’t cookie cutter and each have a di erent floor plan with one or two floors, and up to three bedrooms. They all have full kitchens and most have outdoor decks. Some of them required total facelifts. Sterk did a lot of custom pieces to accommodate the variation, such as the beds and the nightstands. “This project had many layers to it. We really stepped inside and thought about what it would be like for the guest to enjoy the space and stay in a new environment,” she says.

the beds and nightstands are
the beds and nightstands are custom

Staying in the cottages is like sleeping on a boat as they literally rest over the water. Although dreamy for the guests, it was an obstacle that Sterk had to consider during the process. After about 18 months of work, the cottages opened this spring to guests and are already sold out for most of the season. “It’s been a fun journey. I loved working through the design and creating something that everyone is really excited about,” she says.

the mural above the
bed that inspired
the cottages’
color palette. PHOTO BY MATT KISIDAY
the mural above the bed that inspired the cottages’ color palette.