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Step Inside the Ken Fulk–Designed Nantucket Dream Home of One Former Ambassador

Step Inside the Ken Fulk–Designed Nantucket Dream Home of One Former 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.