Boston Home

Tour the Moody Nantucket Home of JDouglas Showroom Owner Doug Self

This refined island house takes inspiration from its oceanic atmosphere—but only to a point: "No ships, shells, or swells!"

The modern, asymmetrical chandelier by Design for Macha bridges the awkward angles of the ceiling in the seating area with the flat ceiling by the stair / Photo by Matt Kisiday

Doug Self’s circa-1900 home, which sits on a narrow street of downtown Nantucket, is anything but a bright white beach house. He and designer Kaitlin McQuaide were on the same page from the start: The color palette would revolve around moody blues, grays, and greens. “The moody colors are reminiscent of the fog you see on the island,” the McQuaide Co. founder says. “You can imagine the ghosts of old whalers walking through these rooms.”

Self, who owns the JDouglas design showrooms in Atlanta and High Point, spends time on the island throughout the year—that the spaces feel welcoming no matter the season was as much a driving force as his desire to preserve the home’s historic character. “We leaned into the quirks of his 120-year-old house,” McQuaide says. “It was important that we find pieces that feel authentic.” In other words, this would not be an antiseptic white box.

That said, the furnishings are not as creaky as the gray-stained wood floors. McQuaide mixed contemporary pieces with antiques and original artwork that Self collected over the years. For the living space, the designer commissioned Brooklyn studio Moving Mountains to make tweedy chaise loungers that fit just so. One stretches the length of the main wall while the other nestles under the slope of the stair, its integrated coffee table fueling function into the corner.

After much sampling, McQuaide chose Farrow & Ball’s “De Nimes,” a dusky denim blue, for the moldings and millwork. (The doors are a mirror-like dark navy.) “I learned the hard way that Nantucket light makes things look plum-colored,” she says. “A few years ago, I picked what looked like the perfect light gray in New York, but on Nantucket, it looked like lilac.” She tested these colors on-site, though she concedes that a plum hue happens to complement this palette.

A convex mirror with leather trim fashioned like a porthole is a fun, luxe nautical feature on the swinging door to the laundry and powder room. / Photo by Matt Kisiday

The color lends a relaxed feel to the kitchen, where the salt air promptly patinated the unlacquered brass hardware. The star is the robustly veined marble countertop, which runs up the wall and becomes a sculptural sink. “The kitchen is neither brash nor boring,” McQuaide says. “The stone is to die for; the rough plaster hood adds grittiness and oak accents warm the cool, gray-green cabinetry.”

Self uses his laptop at the custom banquette in the corner. The dinged-up pine table looks as though it’s been there forever, though he bought it years ago at the Round Top Antiques Fair in Texas to use in his showroom. Handmade ceramic pendants by Philadelphia maker Natalie Page hang from blackened brass chains with a vaguely nautical air. “There are some nods to Nantucket, especially the colors, but I said to Kaitlin, ‘No ships, shells, or swells!’” the homeowner says.

An embossed linen wallcovering with painterly horizontal stripes encompasses the single guest bedroom, where an abstract by George Read hangs over a comfy chair from the homeowner’s Atlanta showroom. / Photo by Matt Kisiday

The felted wool wallcovering with embroidered pinstripes by David Rockwell for Maya Romanoff lends a snug, masculine feel to the primary bedroom. The abstract artwork by Atlanta-born painter Lily Harrington, who works out of New York, adds another layer of interest. / Photo by Matt Kisiday

Handdipped marbled table lamps by Elyse Graham are an elegant addition to the queen guest bedroom, where a rough grasscloth wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries infuses an earthy feel. “There are little pieces of straw poking out, almost like rattan,” McQuaide says. / Photo by Matt Kisiday

McQuaide conceived of the single guest room, where a trundle bed hides under the bed skirt, as an enchanting hideaway for little visitors. The sculptural star light fixture accentuates the effect. / Photo by Matt Kisiday

McQuaide delves deeper into color and texture in the den with a woven cotton wallcovering, a saturated blue ceiling, and a dark-gray plaster chimney adorned with a burnished convex mirror. A sectional in a Holly Hunt performance velvet that feels like silk and looks like the stormy Atlantic wraps three walls.

Upstairs, the bedrooms are snug and sophisticated. A gray flannel wallcovering with chocolate-brown pinstripe stitching that echoes the rhythm of the slatted wood ceiling in the primary bedroom is wholeheartedly masculine, while the single bedroom, meant for friends’ children, finds whimsy with a striated blue-and-white linen wallcovering and an alcove bed tucked behind olive-green curtains.

“This house is a comfortable reflection of my taste: dark, warm, rich, and comfortable,” Self says. “It’s a place where I feel creatively stimulated and an escape that I will never tire of.”

Photo by Matt Kisiday


The marbled wallcovering in the powder room by Los Angeles studio Rule of Three was the first thing the designer and homeowner chose. “When Kaitlin showed this to me, I said we are 100 percent using this,” Self says. McQuaide combined it with Benjamin Moore’s “North Sea Green” paint, a mid-19th-century French marble sink, and a 1950s Gio Ponti–style mirror, turning the powder room into one of the home’s most eclectic and collected spaces.

Clarke Brothers Construction

Interior Designer

McQuaide Co.

Landscape Architect
Miroslava Ahern Landscape Design Studio

The primary bath sports a custom vanity topped with highly veined quartzite and tumbled marble floor tiles from Waterworks. “The tiles look like they went through a washing machine,” McQuaide says. / Photo by Matt Kisiday

Self hired local landscape architect Miroslava Ahern to reimagine the outdoor areas, which included doing brickwork so he wouldn’t have to worry about upkeep, as well as boxwoods and fencing for privacy. / Photo by Matt Kisiday

First published in the print edition of Boston Home’s Spring 2024 issue, with the headline “In a Fog.”