Explore This St. Michaels Sanctuary Designed with a Nautical Touch

By Michael McCarthy | September 7, 2020 | Home & Real Estate


Keira St. Claire, the in-house interior designer for Anthony Wilder Design/Build, took one look at a new 6,000-squarefoot home in St. Michaels, Md., and realized her job was straightforward: Create serenity. “It’s a gorgeous lot and one of the last with direct water views and a private dock with direct water access,” she says. “The home was designed and positioned to allow the most expansive view of the water as possible. We knew at once it needed a breezeway so, as you approached the house, you could see the creek beyond.”

St. Claire had worked with the clients, a Potomac couple with grown children, on many projects in the past, so she understood their design instincts. “This project was a little different from their more traditional home in Potomac,” she says. “We went for a slightly more modern look while still balancing their love of the traditional by subtly translating the water views into modern forms inside the home.”

The bright kitchen features poured concrete countertops and glossy blue porcelain tiles, mimicking water movement; a sculptural light fixture by France & Son (franceandson.com)

With the Eastern Shore and its tributaries as a backdrop, St. Claire says she didn’t want the home’s interiors and exterior living spaces to detract from the views and natural splendor. She opted for modern, clean lines and, when appropriate, married minimalism with historic and rustic touches.

An arsenal of textures—including cottons, hammered zinc, unstained wood, antique brass, leather, stone and porcelain—were employed across the home “in such a way that we could build upon them as time goes on,” says St. Claire, who also added items from antique shops and salvage yards. The first floor features natural colors and clean white walls, while the second floor uses darker tones for intimate bedroom spaces. “There was a desire to historically fit into the area so that the home felt like it belonged there, or might have always been there,” says St. Claire.

Water views accent the living room, a space where St. Claire used lots of natural materials

Natural light spills into the living room, and St. Claire used lots of natural materials, with a significant focus on the fireplace as she added an extra-long, deep sofa upholstered in a cotton chenille. The designer says she oriented the sofa horizontally to subtly reference the water’s movement. Guests will notice an abundance of metal used in the space, including iron drapery hardware, an iron and stone cocktail table, nailhead detail on the chairs and an organic-shaped iron floor lamp. “The wool rug also creates a subtle sense of movement in its weave,” says St. Claire. “Sheer, flowy drapery panels add softness and frame the view.”

The kitchen is a masterpiece of brightness, with hints of the nautical world outside. “Poured concrete countertops and handcut and -dyed glossy blue porcelain tiles reflect light and mimic the movement of water as the light changes,” says St. Claire, who adds the glass cabinetry’s beadboard base was used to pay homage to a farmhouse feel while making the piece look more like furniture. Rounding out the space are a Lacanche stove and classic cabinet hardware with egg knobs and cup pulls in a refined polished nickel finish.

Another marching order from the clients: Carve out as many sleeping spaces as possible for their family and friends. St. Claire succeeded, with an array of beds for convivial sleeping arrangements. The master bedroom, with views of the water, holds an iron four-poster canopy, chaise lounges and modern, sculptural nightstands. Outside, the pool’s dark tiles and stone mirror the water, blurring the distinction between home and nature. “We chose dark tiles and a dark concrete stain to darken the appearance of the water in the pool,” says St. Claire. “A natural pool was used, no chlorine. The flagstone patio features all teak and wicker furniture with neutral indoor-outdoor upholstery and spaces for dining and lounging.”

St. Claire reports the homeowners are thrilled with the results of the retreat, as the home has become a mighty lure for memorable weekends. “Family and friends visit much more frequently than originally planned, which the couple loves,” she says.

Tags: design

Photography by: Courtesy of John Cole Photography