A recent trip to Martha's Vineyard, courtesy of my wonderful aunt and uncle, made me never want to leave the island. I would still be there if I had the choice. The peacefulness of everyday living there as well as the friendliness of the island's residents makes it a completely wonderful vacation location. But more than that (after all, why are we here?) there are so many places that provide a wealth of inspiration for both interior and exterior design. While it was difficult to narrow down all of the wonderful places that we visited, I decided on six that represented different elements of the home, whether outside in the garden, lighting the walkway with handmade lanterns, inside the kitchen making jam, handpicking recently thrown pottery pieces for decoration, or redesigning the living room with various accents. These are some of my absolute favorite places for decoration inspiration on the Vineyard!
POLLY HILL ARBORETUM
THE POLLY HILL ARBORETUM, considered by many to be a premier landmark of the island, was founded in 1958 by Polly Hill- a horticulturalist trained at Longwood gardens Winterthur as well as the University of Delaware. Polly utilized her education to bring 20 acres of her family's Barnard Inn's Farm under cultivation, while leaving the other 40 acres to its native state. She is famed for establishing the determination that the zonal characteristics of plants can be notably increased by beginning with seed growth.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted at a wonderful visitors center. The center has a wide variety of not only guides for how to best find all the plants amidst the grounds, but also an assortment of gifts for those that couldn't make the trip!
Polly is widely regarded as introducing new species of plants to the Vineyard and is renowned for her record keeping system, one that predated many utilized today by professional horticulturalists and organizations. Of the many plants introduced, there are over 80 cultivars including 22 North Tisbury Azaleas, all of which she named after family members. The combinations of plants are not only beautiful to look at but also create inspiration for visitors who cannot help but wonder about the potential of their own gardens at home.
According to the site's WEBPAGE, "Rare trees and shrubs from around the world are set among stone walls, meadows, and fields, including Polly’s famous North Tisbury azaleas, the national stewartia collection, camellias, hollies, rhododendrons, crabapples, conifers, magnolias, and many more. The kousa dogwood allee, perennial border, monkey puzzle tree, and the Julian Hill magnolia are favorites with visitors." Polly planted each by seed, the result of which boasts over seventeen hundred different species of plants. She is described as "taking amateur horticulture to a new, higher level" (The Polly Hill Arboretum) and has received regional and national awards for her work.
Changing gears now, let's take a look at one of the best places to find pottery not just on the island, but I would venture to say in the New England area as a whole.
Located in West Tisbury, Chilmark Pottery is one of my favorite places to go. Geoffrey Borr, the owner and artisan of the shop, has a wide variety of different kinds of pieces to choose from. Not only that, but in addition to making the majority of the work in the store by hand on a wheel in the back of the shop, he also travels the world, picking up rare and interesting ceramic pieces to bring back to his store. I found a mug and plate from China and the coloring was so interesting I had to bring them home with me. But there is so much to see here, and if you aren't in a position to afford one of the large vases, there are certainly others that are quite affordable.
The store is located in a barn attached to Geoffrey's house, and all aspects of production from throwing to glazing to firing, take place on site. The store has been there since 1982, and unbelievably there are often counts of pottery not even on display yet. What is on display though is a tremendous variety of items from vases and plates to more obscure items like rice bowls with chopstick grooves and different kinds of sculptures.
The store has shelves and shelves of wonderful finds, and at every turn is a different kind of ceramic design. The pottery, while primarily created by Borr, also comes from all over the world. There are on occasion also contributions from other local artists. A wonderful Vineyard Gazette ARTICLE on Borr by RACHEL NAVA ROHR showcases in detail more on the contributions within the shop, and how Geoffrey came to become interested in the art.
The selection is extensive, as are the color schemes. Though the shop itself is not massive, it is easily possible to spend the good part of an afternoon in here perusing all of the different options available.
As we shopped, Geoffrey was so kind as to let me film him making one of his vases. He typically goes through 10-12 tons of clay per year, and is capable of making pieces in simply a matter of minutes. I was impressed. Please watch him in action below!
Every Saturday during the summer is the West Tisbury Farmer's Market. On one particular Saturday I ventured up to findNew Lane Sundries, one of my favorite vendors. Of the many things that the owner Linda Lee Alley does well, she makes a wonderful Rose Petal Jelly, created using Rosa Rugosa petals from roses native to the island. I got the scoop for everyone, not to worry!
NEW LANE SUNDRIES
NEW LANE SUNDRIES developed in 1987 when Linda Lee Alley came across the Farmers Market, and decided to make a stand with Jam for the following week. Beginning with 5 varieties, that number has expanded to the current 25+ varieties currently offered both online and at the Farmer's Market. There are jams, jellies, butters and mustards amongst other things, and each variety comes in traditional as well as unexpected flavors- all of which are delicious. I made a bee-line for the rose-petal jelly, which I had years prior and never forgot. It's genuinely that good.
Every season, Linda is out collecting flowers and berries for her jellies and jams. Per her website, these include Rosa Rugosa petals for the Rose Petal Jelly, Wild Choke Cherries, Elder Berries, Vineyard Wild Grapes, Autumn Olives and Beach Plums.
The jellies and jams are excellent in a variety of serving styles. Perhaps it was best said on the blog STUFF I ATE: "I actually bought two jars, intending to give one as a gift but....yeah...it never made it out of my clutches. I slathered that on toast (with a sprinkle of cinnamon and fresh banana slices eee!), mixed it into cottage cheese (fuggedaboudit), and Greek yogurt, and blantantly, unrepentantly, sneaked surreptitious spoonfuls when the cats weren't looking."
Linda was extremely kind and let us visit her in her kitchen to see her making the magic! I watched as she showed us her kitchen space where everything is homemade, the sugar, pectin, lemon juice, berries and all things wonderful poured into the melting pot before being placed into the respective jars and sealed the old fashioned way.
And so here in all their glory, the beautiful Rosa Rugosa rose petals soak prior to being put into Linda's famed Rose Petal Jelly. A cousin of mine buys jars and stores them until winter. She spreads the jelly on toast during freezing Boston winters to remind herself of how summer tastes.
Everything is made by Linda in her kitchen, down to the super cute cloth lids for each jar. I think the most gratifying part of being asked to come and visit with Linda is knowing her products are made with care by someone that is incredibly interested in what she does. The island is home to a lot of smaller individual stores such as Linda's that have a genuine interest in the reception of their products.
Now as mentioned, Linda allowed us in her kitchen to see her making her wonderful jam firsthand. Please take a look below, it was a fun morning!
Vineyard Haven, another area of the island, boasts a number of shops for the design-savvy. Ergo, I had to make a trip for all of our sakes. On the main drag, there are a host of stores that have unique pieces and themes, one of which is the lovely Brickyard.
BRICKYARD immediately draws you in through displays that consistently spill out into the front walkway of the store. There is a rustic feel when you first walk in, but this quickly transitions to a host of different looks that seamlessly blend together while still maintaining the island theme. It's quite a fun store to peruse.
Rustic accents compliment modern accessories throughout the store. There's a great variety of timeless pieces and funky elements. "Kate, the shop’s founder searches old barns, factories and small artisan fairs to find the perfect mix of items; eclectic, funky and unusual," (Brickyard.com). It shows.
The sheer variety of items filling the space is somewhat fascinating. You can find many different household items, but of very different natures. There are clocks, soaps, dishes, wall decor, towels, glassware, books, candles, you name it. What's remarkable though is that despite all of the very different looks, the store illustrates for the consumer the manner in which its products can work together by their placement throughout the space.
Owners Kate Shanor and Scott Mullin are always on the hunt for the next one of a kind item that befits the overall theme of the store. Per their site, "We look for the interesting one-of-a-kinds, the old and rusty and the unusual. We definitely have no problem getting our hands dirty. We’ve searched all over to find a mix of vintage, modern and funky to bring to the Island."
Smaller pieces highlight the area in which the store is located. What I loved about this particular cabinet is that it enabled the shop to sell pieces that visitors could keep as souvenirs of the Vineyard, but it did it in a way that wasn't at all kitschy or tacky. The small bowls blend right in and are some of the rare vacation souvenirs that you could also use, frankly, in a very well-decorated room. Everything in this store could effortlessly transition into a redesigned space.
My favorite. There are reading glasses placed right next to what I believe to be an old calculator? Maybe it's a cash register. Well, regardless all of the colors are completely complimentary and look wonderful together.
Now just down the road is a store that I actually had heard about prior to visiting the Vineyard. After visiting, I found it quite deserving of its solid reputation. I took a trip into Midnight Farm after it relocated onto the main drag and was pretty captivated with everything I found.
MIDNIGHT FARM is the home design dream of Tamara Weiss and her business partner, Carly Simon. Tamara selects a variety of goods that reflect the inspiration she gathers from travels throughout the world. The store caries anything from clothing to jewelry, shoes, furniture, art, bedding, perfumes, books, candles, and some varieties of snacks such as honey, sea salt, granola, jam, chocolates and their well-know. mango lime salsa. It presents itself as a having "treasures for the Home, Body and Spirit" (MidnightFarm.com) and certainly maintains your interest throughout.
There are different accents at every turn. The first floor is filled with a variety of home textiles and decorative items, while if one travels just upstairs, it changes its gears a bit. A vibrant but rustic vibe with leathers and wood adds a kind of masculinity to the upper level where the majority of the clothing items are kept.
The items of clothing are as varied as the home pieces. Yet in each case, they are through color, texture and style quite complimentary of one another. In that respect, again, the store is capable of illustrating for the customer the potential of their items merely by example and placement. There's so much to be said for that kind of coordination, not merely in the retail arena but also in the home. I love looking to stores that create a homey environment to really examine what it is about them that makes me want to stay. More often then not, when its genuine it always comes down to textures, patterns and placement.
Take a look at all of the different colors and themes happening in this room. You may find that it took a moment to pull yourself out of the scene to do so. I love the design here and I love the number of ideas it's able to combine just through its organization and layout. The home accents are similar in some ways to one another but also quite different and its clear that they are inspired by multiple countries and themes.
The cookbook collection was one of my favorite parts of the store. And that surprised me, as I am no cook. But there were so many wonderful books available for healthy recipes. And for those that aren't overly concerned with how much Kale is getting in their diet (I'm not really, either, it's fine), there are also some great recipes illustrated using local ingredients. Again, I'm not the biggest cook by any stretch but I found the books that Midnight Farm sells to be a large enough variety that they can cater to a host of chefs.
One day, my family and I took a trip to a nearby nursery to look at the flowers. But nestled amidst all of the plants is a shop containing some of the most gorgeous lanterns I'd ever seen. So of course I popped in to see what was going on in there!
I came across LAMPLIGHTER CORNER while visiting the MIDDLETOWN NURSERY, on which the building rests. But one stop inside and I was immediately interested in all of the beautiful copper. The company itself is not new, established in 1967 when Hollis W. Fisher created the first reproduction of the Edgartown Streetlamp- one of only several models that had lit the town between 1869-1912. The designs are currently upheld by designer Billy Hoff. After making his first lighting fixtures in his teens, Billy eventually moved to NYC creating prototypes for a lamp designer. Eventually, he would work closely with the owners of Lamplighter Corner, Tim Rush and Tom Fisher, learning how to tinsmith. There's a wonderful in-depth ARTICLE on Billy written by SAM BUNGEY in the Vineyard Gazette if you'd like to know more on how he came into the business.
The store moved to West Tinsbury in 2005, and features a number of different designs including PENDANT-HANGING LANTERNS, POST MOUNTED, and three types of Sconce/Wall Mounted Lanterns: BARN & CHAPPY, KATAMA & MATTAKESSET, and SHIP & TAVERN.. A new model called SYMMETRY has been introduced recently as well, available as a hanging model.
I think as a takeaway it's important to remember that when walking into a store that may seem initially out of your price range, it is absolutely still worth the trip for the inspiration. It's perfectly fine to acknowledge that maybe a $6500 chair is too much for the living room, but its colors and textures are something you want. Where there's an idea there's a way. And heck, there could actually still be something in that store within range, you never know if you don't go inside!
I'd like to thank all of the businesses that so nicely welcomed me into their stores and even into their homes. The kindness of the people on the Vineyard was noticeable, and another reason it was so hard to tear myself away. If you have the opportunity, definitely take a trip, it's just a wonderful place to be. And now you have a number of places you know are definitely worth visiting! So thanks once again for reading and as always, stay tuned!