A Modern Makeover of a Martha’s Vineyard Cottage

A Modern Makeover of a Martha’s Vineyard Cottage

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Emily Billings
Oct 16, 2016

Name: Nick and Sarah Waldman, and their sons, Dylan and Gray
Location: Vineyard Haven — Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: Owned; 3 years

Nick and Sarah Waldman had one toddler and baby number two on the way when they purchased their 1920s island cottage — and had ambitious ideas for what they could do with the space. In the five months leading up to their youngest son's due date, they designed and built a light-filled modern kitchen addition for their traditional New England home. Their bright and inviting style is influenced by the ocean that surrounds them.
Nick Waldman is a skilled maker and designer whose Masters in Architecture from RISD played a large role in making their renovations successful. Being a father of two (adorable) boys meant approaching their redesign practically and cost-consciously. Not only did he plan and build their modern "box" kitchen, he incorporated leftover materials from the construction to create functional pieces of furniture that can be seen in their space.
Along with his wife Sarah Waldman, a talented food blogger and cookbook author, the two have cultivated a home that functions both as a studio for Sarah's career and as a place of comfort and growth for their family as a whole.
While Sarah and Nick agree less is more by opting to keep their design minimal and bright, they did not skimp on personal touches. The two have decorated with family heirlooms, artisanal pieces made themselves and mementos from their respective childhoods. Combined with their boys' art, which adorns the walls and countless family photos, the Waldmans have created a home that feels lived in and truly loved.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Our biggest goal is to make our house feel personal and unique to our family. A member of our family made most of the furniture and "stuff" in our house. Our entire kitchen addition was designed and built by Nick. He also made much of the artwork, side tables, a lamp, our headboard and desk. My dad made the dining room table, Dylan's bed (which was mine growing up), and the living room bench. My mom hooked the rug in Gray's room and sewed his crib bumper and the boys hang their artistic creations all over the house. Our home is a very personal space.

The ocean is a huge influence of our style. We live on an island, Nick is an avid surfer, and the beach is our second home. Our house is a small cottage built in 1924 and not that big, so almost everything is painted white to open up the space and because I love white. As I am the only girl in our house, I am drawn to pinks and other powdery colors tossed in against the white walls. We like to mix handmade items, simple modern pieces, and vintage yard sale finds. Above all else, Nick and I agree that less is more.

Inspiration: Scandinavian design, salty New England life, art galleries, modern beach cottages, the ocean, our children.

Favorite Element: The kitchen island and the big picture window in the kitchen. We spend most of our time huddled around this space cooking, building with Legos, snacking, and watching the wild turkeys in the yard.

Biggest Challenge: As we have done all the design and renovations ourselves, while having two young children, time and money are the biggest challenges. There were years when Nick spent all his "free time" on the house. It was hard not having down-time together. The age of our house, 92 years, is also a challenge because everything is a big undertaking.

What Friends Say: Our home feels like us. Guests are always surprised by the ample natural light in the kitchen (even on cloudy days) and how different everything looks from when we bought it.


Get the look! → Beachy, Airy & Kid-Friendly


Biggest Embarrassment: All the neglected or half-done projects. Currently those include the bathroom renovations and exterior shingles. Our house is currently only half shingled so we are really glad this is an interior tour!

Proudest DIY: Our family kitchen from start to finish with very little outside help. The only subcontractors we hired were a plasterer and plumber. Nick designed and build a modern "box" scabbed onto our traditional island cottage. The new, light-filled space turned the kitchen into a studio/office for me and created a family gathering place. All of the construction happened in the five months leading up to Gray's due date – his birth was our deadline (luckily he was eight days late)!

Biggest Indulgence: The Bertazzoni range (although we still bought the floor model and saved $1000). We are constantly cooking so this felt like a smart investment.

Best Advice: Hire a designer.

Dream Sources: Unlimited time and access to a workshop, the lot at a Grateful Dead show, Vitra Design Museum, and Brimfield Antique Show.

Thanks, Sarah, Nick, Dylan, and Gray!


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