Whales: Non-Nauseating Nautical Decor

In addition to a highly restrained color palette, there are several other decorating trends we noticed in downtown Nantucket: jaw-dropping amounts of hydrangeas and sculpted hedges dominate nearly every yard and almost everyone owns a Sperm Whale.

Honestly, one of our favorite things about Nantucket was the remarkably low level of nauseating nautical decor — really no more than we see in Boston's tourist spots. The only element that was everywhere — door knockers, wind vanes, mounted over doors, painted on shop signs — was the Sperm Whale.

The island's history is completely wrapped up in the now-deplorable whaling trade. Whales — sperm whales, in particular — were hunted for making candle wax and Nantucket was an epicenter for this commerce. Though not the most pleasant of memories to inspire home decor, the sperm whale is still held in high regard as a symbol of the island's heritage, not to mention it is the most intriguing looking whale, ever.

Blunt head, rectangular body and big, nubby white teeth (the sperm whale is carnivorous, eating mostly squid) equal one fantastic animal up for a wide variety of artistic interpretations. We were so in love that we bought one of our own — a simple silhouette carved out of old, oak barn wood from the man who also carved the whale in image #4 up there. Our advice is to leave downtown if you're looking for a whale — ours cost $35 but most of the antique stores in town were asking for $1,500 or more.