icon Back to overview

Step Inside the Ken Fulk–Designed Nantucket Dream Home of a Two-Time Ambassador

If you know of Ken Fulk, chances are, you know of his dogs, a trio of English cream golden retrievers (better known, perhaps, as #polarbearsofptown) and a wirehaired dachshund who populate the AD100 interior designer’s Instagram feed. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the story of this house—a newly-constructed shingled number on Nantucket—starts with a visit to the vet. When Fulk, who has a house in Provincetown, Massachusetts, took the dogs in for a checkup, he never guessed the local P-Town veterinarian, Dr. Stephen DeVincent, would become a future client.

“I met Ken’s dogs before I met Ken,” DeVincent jokes. That was around 2007. Fast forward more than a decade. DeVincent, who now does conservation work in Kenya with the Karen Blixen Camp Trust, had married Ambassador Rufus Gifford, chief of protocol of the United States and former ambassador to Denmark, and they were building a house on Nantucket. Gifford’s family had a long history on the island, where he grew up spending summers and holidays, and the couple was ready to create a place of their own on a plot of beach-gazing property. “Nantucket has always felt like home to him,” DeVincent explains, “Provincetown always felt like home to me.” So when it came time to hire a designer, they immediately thought of Fulk—who better to merge those two coastal identities? An added bonus: Over the years they had become close friends.

“It was a new home, but we wanted it to feel rooted in its place and in history,” explains Fulk, who looked to coastal New England whaling towns (including Provincetown, of course) for inspiration, playing with the idea of what a beachside Nantucket house could look like. They paired the typical (in many cases, mandatory) shingles with dark trim and a moody palette that had a more historic feeling than what was typical in the area. “It has an almost masculine character to it and we leaned into that.”

Building something ground-up is no small feat in a location like Nantucket where the placement of a window or pitch of a roof can attract serious scrutiny by the historical commission. Eventually, after working closely with Connecticut-based architecture firm, Shope Reno Wharton, they landed on a classic shingle-style structure—a sort of gabled roof sandwich—that felt simultaneously cozy and beachy and most importantly, in DeVincent’s words, “like it’s been there for a long time.”

For the interiors, Fulk worked his magic, cultivating a mix of New England antiques, family heirlooms, and Scandinavian design references that gave the house personality and soul. “We were really conscious of it not feeling like a new house,” he explains. “We wanted it to feel collected. And in a house surrounded by water, we wanted everything to have a natural patina.” Vintage and antique furnishings culled from online marketplaces 1stDibs and Chairish as well as L.A. emporium Obsolete were mixed up with classics from Ralph Lauren Home, Design Within Reach, and RH. Textural wallpapers by Phillip Jeffries and unexpected Farrow & Ball hues—like the deep brown mahogany in the study—made the place cozy, which DeVincent and Gifford planned to use year-round.

Still, personal touches made it feel like home. When, one year at Christmas, Gifford’s parents gave him and his siblings access to the third floor attic full of dusty antiques, he and DeVincent scored several antiques that now live in their new home—a pair of restored antique wooden chairs that now sit in the great room and an Eastlake cupboard, which holds court in a guest bedroom. These storied heirlooms mix in with midcentury classics, and a range of nautical-themed works, many of them by Provincetown artists sourced from Bakker Gallery in Provincetown.

One particularly interesting artwork lives in the downstairs powder room of all places. When DeVincent clocked the mural behind the bar at Greydon House, a nearby bed-and-breakfast, he got the idea. It turned out Fulk actually knew the muralist—Dean Barger, based in Maine—so they invited him down to create an artwork of their own, depicting the view from the back of the house, over the course of a few days.

The place was move-in ready by May 2020, meaning that the couple weathered most of the pandemic right here by the sea. Thankfully, they had already requested two separate offices—DeVincent’s is tucked away upstairs, delivering total silence and sweeping views over the treetops; Gifford’s is downstairs, off the main hallway, near the TV room. From these posts, DeVincent Zoomed into meetings in Kenya while Gifford worked tirelessly on Biden’s campaign. (A photo in his office pictures the happy couple with the president and first lady.)

Of course, the house was not made for just the two of them. A sunny yellow guest bedroom is on offer to friends and family (“I’ve already had the pleasure of staying there,” Fulk reveals.) And the room above the pool house has been clad in reclaimed barnwood and turned into a late afternoon hangout for friends and family. In fact, designed as the only Gifford Nantucket house with a pool, they outfitted the pool house so that friends and family could swing by as they please, whether or not the couple was home.

Even as life regains some sort of normalcy, and they must spend less time on the island, Gifford explains, “Nantucket still feels like the grounded home for me. It’s the place where you land and you kind of exhale and you feel your blood pressure plummet.”

Argos and Svend couldn’t agree more. Here, they enjoy long walks on the beach, regular swims in the pool, and running about as they please in the fenced-in yard (there’s a casual war with the local rabbits.) And when they do choose to come inside they have their very own shower in the downstairs bathroom, a special request that Fulk happily delivered. As Gifford explains, “Nantucket is dog Shangri-La.”

Rabbit Run 16

Veterinarian Stephen DeVincent and Ambassador Rufus Gifford’s new Nantucket home, built by Connecticut-based architects Shope Reno Wharton and decorated by AD100 designer Ken Fulk, sports cedar siding and roof shingles and copper downspouts. All of the exterior lights are ship lights, a nod to the nautical setting. The chairs on the front lawn are by West Elm and the poolside chaise longues are by RH.

Rabbit Run 1

In the living room, crowned by globe lights from Ralph Lauren Home, the pair of sofas is from Amber Interiors, the midcentury lounge chairs and sculptural bust are from Obsolete, the cocktail table is from Jayson Home, and the side table is from Eneby Home. The two wooden chairs against the wall are restored antiques from Gifford’s family. The works flanking the fireplace are by artists Anne Packard (left), Thom Jackson (middle), and Evelin Bodfish Bourne (right).

Rabbit Run 2

The vintage wood dining table, sourced on Chairish, is surrounded by Moller dining chairs from Design Within Reach. The pair of copper console tables, purchased at Obsolete, are surmounted with paintings by Provincetown artists Agnes Weinrich (left) and Ernest Epstein (right).

Rabbit Run 3

Stools by Industry West pull up to the cozy kitchen island. The pendant lights are from Obsolete.

Rabbit Run 4

In the breakfast nook, which delivers verdant views of the property, a pendant light from Roman and Williams Guild crowns a vintage French monastery table surrounded by dining chairs from Amber Interiors.

Rabbit Run 5

Down the moody, arched hallway, wrapped in Phillip Jeffries grasscloth, you can glimpse a vintage Danish leather armchair.

Rabbit Run 6

Fulk cleverly turned a wooden chest, sourced from Chairish, into a vanity for this bathroom, decorated with a mural by Dean Barger. The sconces are by Sazerac Stitches and the mirror is from 1stDibs.

Rabbit Run 7

In the study, painted Mahogany by Farrow and Ball, an RH sectional sits with a midcentury leather lounge, a cocktail table from Chairish, and a woven rug from Armadillo & Co. The painting is by Marjorie Conant Bush-Brown.

Rabbit Run 8

The walls of the powder room off the mudroom are wrapped in Waves wallpaper by Cole and Sons from Lee Jofa and adorned with a mirror and light by Shiplights.

Rabbit Run 9

A painting by Joan Albaugh anchors the primary bedroom, which is wrapped in striped wallcovering from Phillip Jeffries, and contains a four poster bed from Leonard’s Antiques, a pair of Swedish Biedermeier-style nightstands, and a vintage leather club chair. The alabaster pendant light is from 1stDibs, the floor lamp is from Obsolete, and the wool rug is from RH.

Rabbit Run 10

For the primary bath, Fulk designed this custom vanity to resemble a campaign trunk. The pair of mirrors, sourced from 1stDibs, are from a decommissioned cruise ship, adding to the room’s nautical flair.

Rabbit Run 11

The Roman shades in the primary bath are made from Schumacher’s Izmir stripe.

Rabbit Run 12

In DeVincent’s office, sheathed in Phillip Jeffries wallcovering, Jesús Gasca’s Gas Task chair, from Design Within Reach, pulls up to a Harrod’s military army and navy partner desk. The shades are made from Zak & Fox fabric and the vintage flat-weave rug is from Jamestown Market Stalls.

Rabbit Run 13

The sunny guest bedroom, painted Farrow & Ball’s Sudbury Yellow, features a pair of vintage armchairs reupholstered in Ralph Lauren fabric, a pair of midcentury teak nightstands topped with table lamps from Hesperus Nauticals, and a bed by RH.

Rabbit Run 14

This room in the pool house, clad in reclaimed barnwood, is the perfect afternoon hangout spot, filled with cozy vintage and antique furniture and shades made from Zak + Fox fabric.

Rabbit Run 15

Stephen DeVincent (left) and Rufus Gifford with their dogs Argos and Svend.

Read the original article here.