Fun and games are at the heart of everything interior designer Elizabeth Georgantas does. As the founder of Georgantas Design and Development, she has designed winding slides for clients with kids, and, back home in Boston, is known to host over-the-top theme parties (like her annual back-to-school, parents-only Animal House dinner, featuring Domino’s pizza and Jell-O shots). Fittingly, the renovation of her family’s summer house on Nantucket had a lighthearted approach, despite its serious history.
When Georgantas and her husband, Peter (along with their two daughters), fell for this 1746 property—a former fish lot and one of the oldest remaining houses in the heart of downtown’s historic district—they knew they were signing up for a project. “Every inch we touched caused two inches around it to fall apart and have to be repaired,” says Georgantas. “I lovingly refer to it as my ‘money pit,’ as in the Tom Hanks movie.” The couple embarked on a major restoration—repairing nearly 300- year-old rooms, leveling the foundation, patching floors, and fixing crumbling plaster and beams with beetle damage— all while accepting quirks and imperfections along the way.
“We really strove to keep the house as we found it whenever possible, while adding back some historical details that over the years had been removed,” she says. “Cracks are a record of history—we wanted to honor them, not hide them.” A welcome playfulness is everywhere, from the indoor-outdoor dining shed where Georgantas nailed paintings to the ceiling to island-inspired touches, like the edgy sailor-tattoo wallpaper and glass skull sconces in the powder room.
In the bunk room, where countless kids can be found running circuits or playing hide-and-seek, Georgantas created the ultimate hideaway: six bunks connected by bridges, hanging chairs, and pillow-filled reading nooks. “It had to be comfortable enough for adults, but ridiculously fun for the kids—not just now, but as they grow up,” she says. While lying in bed, guests can gaze up at shiny constellation wallpaper, and starry tiles cover the nearest bathroom’s floor. Georgantas skipped a double vanity in there in favor of a wide trough sink that allows for more elbow room.
A fearless scout, Georgantas let her creativity fly when sourcing materials for the restoration. Salvaged granite was used for the steps, and a stainless steel Sub-Zero wine fridge is disguised under an antique icebox door. Up to 12 kids can snuggle around the breakfast table, where wipeable pleather banquettes are “sand-, saltwater-, and spaghetti sauce–proof.”
An Italian at heart, Georgantas embraces the wear and tear of the kitchen. She splurged on a extra-wide sink and double-spout faucet so she could keep cooking as friends pour in and kids skate through the room. The party naturally congregates around the oversize island, which is topped with two-inch-thick, unmitered Carrara marble—a distressed surface that she refuses to agonize over when stains, nicks, and chips happen.
“As the adage goes, the kitchen is the heart of my home. It’s where I live and breathe, where I nourish my children, my friendships, and my soul,” she says. “I want it to tell the life of what happened here.”
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