Nantucket Cottage Makeover

Everyone loves a good makeover and the February issue of House Beautiful, dedicated to Before & Afters, is filled with pretty projects. One that stands out for so many of us is a quaint little fisherman’s shack on the island of Nantucket. Apart from the obvious appeal of a tiny cottage in such a wonderful location, the impressive thing about this story is that it took New York designer Kevin Isbell only three weeks to complete the transformation.

The cottage is over 100 years old and has had very few upgrades over the decades – most of the rooms were brown and buttery yellow, the floor plan was wonky and the rooms had no ceiling electrical wiring. While Isbell did perform some decorating magic, he left the integrity of the home untouched. No reconfiguring the floor plan, no knocking down walls – instead he made the best of what was  – don’t you just love that?

cottage exterior

morning space

morning room before



dining space before

dining space after

dining room before

living room after

kitchen before

kitchen after

master bedroom before

master bedroom after

master entrance

the stairs - before

stairs after

guest bed

guest room

Some of Isbell’s decorating tricks:

  • for a unified look, all the walls were painted Benjamin Moore’s White Dove which brightens up the rooms. All the floors were painted a beautiful cobalt-blue – Champion Cobalt by Benjamin Moore – a nod to the home’s nautical setting
  • the furniture is a mix of family heirlooms and local antiques shop finds
  • all the pieces are appropriate in scale – with the exception of the wicker Serena & Lily sofa(the largest piece in the home), the chairs, tables and beds are small, clean-lined and sleek. This further helps to create the impression of spaciousness.
  •  for a cheerful mood, Isbell adds touches of blue, yellow and coral reds with accent pillows, ship paintings, porthole mirrors and John Ronbshaw textiles in the upholstery.

I was lucky to find on Isbell’s Instagram account his hand-drawn floor plan and furniture arrangement! It gives a better idea of how the rooms flow and how he managed to fit so many beautiful pieces within such a small space.

floor plan

Happy Friday!



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  1. January 12, 2018 / 3:14 pm

    I love this cottage too Eva! It seems like such a perfect vacation home. Everything is comfortable and pretty and not too precious. It is lovely to look at these beautiful pictures on such a brutal winter day! Thanks for sharing!

    • Eva Contreras
      January 12, 2018 / 8:33 pm

      Thank you, Elizabeth… you’re totally right, it takes the mind off this terrible cold!!! Spring can’t come soon enough! Have a nice weekend, stay warm

  2. January 12, 2018 / 7:12 pm

    I was just looking at this article today! Such a lovely cottage 🙂

    • Eva Contreras
      January 12, 2018 / 8:35 pm

      Thank you, Marta! Have a great weekend, stay warm!

  3. Susan
    January 13, 2018 / 7:34 pm

    What a beautiful freshening-up of this charming cottage! Thank you for sharing!

    • Eva Contreras
      January 13, 2018 / 8:15 pm

      Thanks, Susan! Glad you like it!

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