FRIDAY Q&A: AFFORDABLE BEDDING, MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY TRADITION, VISITING NANTUCKET IN THE OFF-SEASON, AND MORE

Happy Friday! Did anyone else feel like this week just flew by? I spent Monday in the city celebrating Amy’s birthday and stayed up way too late on Tuesday watching election results and then it feels like I blinked and here we are. In any event I’m spending the day shooting a bunch of upcoming holiday content and then we’re flying to Indiana to visit Will’s grandparents tonight. I’m also excited to research a little winter getaway thanks to all your recommendations on this post — major wanderlust over here! I hope you all have a great weekend!

design darling friday q&a

1. What are your favorite under $50 coffee table books?

Most of my favorite coffee table books are under $50! If you’re just starting your collection, I would recommend A House by the Sea by Bunny Williams, Beautiful by Mark D. Sikes, Escape by Gray Malin, Once Upon A Time by Slim Aarons, and The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman. In my dream life, I have a couple extra copies of each in a gift closet ready to go as hostess gifts and last-minute birthday presents!

2. Any recs for affordable bedding?

I love this bedding collection from Pottery Barn — it’s classic and crisp and you can add a monogram for a more custom look. They often have sales with 20% or 30% off if you can wait for one of those! If that’s still a little too pricey, I’d recommend buying inexpensive all white bedding (like this duvet cover with these sheets) and then bringing in two monogrammed shams or a single monogrammed boudoir pillow. 

3. Hello, curious now about how you chose your wedding rings? We ended up choosing the thinnest white gold bands, to match my engagement ring which has a very thin band and because I like the idea of stacking (another ring to celebrate a birth, maybe). But now I’m kind of regretting that the wedding ring is not more visible (I kind of want to show it off you know?). I wanted ALL the rings so it was a very hard choice! Do you also like the idea of stacking rings or do you think it becomes too much/not so elegant?

I picked out a thin diamond eternity band and then Will surprised me with a thin band with alternating diamonds and sapphires on the morning of our wedding. I wear my wedding band first, then my engagement ring, and then the diamond and sapphire ring on top and it feels like the perfect combination for me! I love a stacked look but personally wouldn’t wear more than those three rings on one finger, so if I ever added another band it would probably be for my other hand!

4. Has your family ever visited Nantucket for Christmas Stroll? How was it?

We have and it’s lovely! We’re going up this year the weekend after our family Thanksgiving in Rhode Island and can’t wait to enjoy the island in the off-season. There’s an annual tree lighting on Main Street where everyone sings Christmas carols and cheers when the tree lights up and it’s one of my favorite ways to get in the holiday spirit! I’ve received several questions about visiting Nantucket in the off-season and many of the restaurants and businesses featured in my Nantucket guide are open beyond the summer months, but the town website publishes lists of open restaurants by week/month (like this one) if you need information on specific dates.

5. Chicken Box or Gazebo?

Gazebo then Chicken Box. 🙂

6. What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

I have so many! But my very favorite is reading The Night Before Christmas as an extended family just before we go to bed on Christmas Eve. We’ve had the same illustrated copy since I was little and we pass it around the room with each family member reading one page. A few years ago Grandy gave Will a new copy of the book for Christmas to ensure that we’ll keep the tradition alive for many years to come (even after our current copy falls apart) and it’s something I can’t wait to share with our own kids someday. 

7. Any advice for what to wear on first dates?

Wear whatever makes you feel most confident! Personally I’m more comfortable in jeans than dresses or skirts so I used to wear jeans with heels and a sweater or top befitting the season. If I were going on a first date now, I’d wear something like this or this with my go-to skinny jeans and walkable heels and call it a day. If you’re more of a dress girl, I’d do something like this dress or this one with slouchy boots, but again it’s really about what makes you feel like the best version of yourself! 

8. Would you get a Cartier love bracelet/ring? If so, which one?

I love the look of both but I get annoyed easily by bracelets and always want to take them off when I’m at my computer which would defeat the purpose! So personally I’d go with the ring, but I really don’t think you can go wrong with something so timeless!

9. Would love to hear your ideas on decorating for the holidays!

You can see how we decorated our house for Christmas last year in this post! Many of the same pieces are available again this year in this collection but generally speaking I love lots of greenery (garlands, wreaths) and use only white lights. This year I had to buy an artificial Christmas tree to shoot several holiday-themed sponsored posts that were due before real trees would be available and it pained me to set it up… Real trees all the way!

10. Did you do a bouquet toss / garter toss at your wedding?

We didn’t. We wanted to make the most of every minute we had on the dance floor since Nantucket weddings have to move indoors after 10 p.m. — I seriously would have nixed the wedding cake for ten more minutes dancing! Personally I wasn’t big on the idea of either tradition so I didn’t give it a second thought but it’s your wedding so you should absolutely honor the traditions that are meaningful to you! P.S. There were some great comments on this post about whether or not to wear a wedding veil!

STUBBS & WOOTTON BESPOKE NANTUCKET SLIPPERS

Say hello to my new favorite pair of shoes: Stubbs & Wootton bespoke slippers featuring Nantucket lighthouses Brant Point and Sankaty. I’ve been living in Stubbs & Wootton slippers all spring and summer (you’ve seen them here, here, herehere, here, here, here, and here) and I just can’t get enough. They’re classic, comfortable, cool, and make even a t-shirt and jeans feel polished and put together. I had seen these bespoke Nantucket slippers on Tumblr years ago and was over the moon when Stubbs & Wootton recently brought back the lighthouse motifs to their bespoke section. While they’re still an investment piece, you can currently take 30% off your bespoke order now through September 15.

Another new piece that speaks to my love for Nantucket is this gorgeous mother of pearl necklace featuring the island’s coordinates. It was a gift from 28 Centre Pointe (one of my favorite boutiques on the island and featured in my Nantucket guide!) and a perfect start to my recent interest in investing in everyday jewelry. I couldn’t love it any more if I tried!

j.crew stretch button-up shirt with peplum and bespoke stubbs & wootton

design darling nantucket stubbs and wootton with sankaty lighthouse

asha nantucket coordinates pendant necklace on design darling

stubbs and wootton nantucket loafers on design darling

j.crew stretch button-up shirt with peplum on design darling

stubbs and wootton nantucket slippers on design darling

design darling nantucket stubbs & wootton

J.Crew peplum shirt  //  Polo Ralph Lauren cable knit cashmere sweater  //  Frame jeans

Celine sunglasses  //  Asha Nantucket coordinates pendant and gold chain c/o  //  J.McLaughlin bag

Stubbs & Wootton bespoke Nantucket slippers (currently $350 instead of $500) c/o

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NANTUCKET DINING ROOM REVEAL

This is more a before and after than a styled interiors post but I just had to share our Nantucket dining room before another summer passed me by! If you’re new here, we did a bunch of work on my family’s Nantucket house before our wedding last summer, including painting the interior and exterior, staining the floors, and adding new furniture, rugs, and decor throughout. I’ve shared room reveals for our living room, sitting room, powder room, guest bedroomupstairs bathroomentryway, and kitchen and today it’s time for the dining room. This room winds up being a command station with everyone’s laptops and cameras during the day and big group dinners at night (or at least when we can’t eat outside). It’s super simple with just a dining table, chairs, and a rug, but it’s so much lighter and brighter (and less cluttered) than it used to be!

design darling nantucket dining room

design darling nantucket dining room before photo

I got a bunch of questions about these dining chairs when I posted them here and while we do bring them outside when we’re entertaining a big group, we primarily use them as indoor dining chairs so I can’t speak to how well they hold up outdoors for months at a time. But they sure look pretty in both spots! I know the art prints are a little tiny for in here but my brother Grayson printed a Nantucket photo that my three siblings and I had taken and I guess we’ve yet to find anything we love more than our own work, haha.

frontgate set of two paris bistro side chairs in capri blue

frontgate paris bistro side chairs in capri blue

nantucket prints

frontgate paris bistro arm chair in capri blue

frontgate set of two paris bistro side chairs capri blue

Frontgate bistro side chairs  //  Frontgate bistro arm chairs (get the look for less with these)

similar dining table  //  similar chandelier  //  jute rug

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MY FAVORITE BEACHES ON NANTUCKET

You could ask ten people to name their favorite Nantucket beaches and you’d probably get ten different answers. I didn’t include a section on beaches in my Nantucket guide because I love so many beaches on this island and really don’t think you can go wrong, but a few of you requested a list of my family’s favorite spots and I was all too happy to run around the island snapping photos of beautiful beaches! I’ll include a little blurb on what I love about each one so you can decide which ones are the best fit for you and your crew, but please know this is not a comprehensive list of Nantucket beaches but rather an edit of the spots we’ve returned to year after year.

best beaches on nantucket fisherman's beach

Fisherman’s

I love Fisherman’s because it’s close to my family’s house and not nearly as crowded as its neighbor, Surfside. We actually took some of our engagement pictures here because we knew the beach wouldn’t be too busy! It has my favorite kind of waves (where you need to pay attention, but you aren’t afraid for your life… you’ll notice I didn’t include Cisco Beach on this list 😉) and the softest sand of anywhere on the island.

sunrise at great point nantucket

Great Point

Remember our sunrise outing to Great Point last year? It was one of the highlights of the summer and I had to include it here if you’re looking for a beach that’s way off the beaten path. The view of the lighthouse, the seals, and the sunrise are worth every minute it takes to get out there!

jetties beach sunset nantucket

Jetties Beach

You’ve heard me rave about the sunset from Galley Beach restaurant but next door Jetties Beach serves up the same sunset at a much lower price. This is a great kid-friendly beach with virtually no waves, a snack bar, restrooms, playground, and ample parking. I’m pretty sure we took at least five years’ worth of Christmas card photos here growing up!

ladies beach nantucket

Ladies Beach

We love picking up picnic fare from Bartlett’s Farm and heading down the long dirt road to Ladies Beach. The view from the top of the hill is one of my favorite views on the island with swaying dune grass as far as the eye can see. We recently added a print of Ladies Beach to our laundry room!

madaket beach

Madaket Beach

Millie’s is my favorite restaurant on the island for a myriad of reasons: my cousins and siblings have worked there for years, we had their food truck at our welcome party the night before our wedding, and of course their margaritas, fish tacos, and grilled Mexican corn which never get old no matter how many times I order each of them. But my favorite reason of all? The fact that you can put your name down for a table, walk to Madaket Beach to catch the out-of-this-world sunset, and head back to the restaurant for dinner. It doesn’t get better than that!

quidnet beach

Quidnet Beach

If you’re looking for peace and quiet (with a view of Sankaty lighthouse off in the distance), Quidnet is the place to go. A ten minute walk down the beach will bring you to a massive red buoy that washed ashore during a winter storm earlier this year.

sconset beach

‘Sconset Beach

I’m perhaps a little biased as we had our wedding reception at the Summer House overlooking ‘Sconset Beach but there’s nothing I don’t love about this spot. It’s walking distance from coffee and muffins from ‘Sconset Market, sandwiches from Claudette’s, or a sit-down lobster roll lunch at the Summer House Beachside Bistro. I love to do the ‘Sconset bluff walk in the morning (more details in my Nantucket guide) and then come to ‘Sconset Beach for a dip in the afternoon.

best nantucket beaches steps beach

Steps Beach

Drive past the stunning homes of Cliff Road and head down a steep set of stairs to Steps Beach for gentle surf and sweeping views of Nantucket Sound. This place is pure magic at sunset!

surfside beach

Surfside Beach

Surfside is for beachgoers who value convenience over cool factor. It’s popular among tourists because of the shuttle that runs here from downtown, but it’s still one of our go-to spots because it’s close to our house, has legitimately good food at the beach shack (think Caprese salad, mango quinoa bowls, and Island Kitchen homemade ice cream as opposed to your typical snack bar fare), and has great waves for body surfing. There are also lifeguards, restrooms, outdoor showers, and a stand where you can purchase beach chairs, sunscreen, or anything else you may have left behind. It may not be the most original Nantucket beach pick but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a regular haunt for us!

tom nevers beach

Tom Nevers Beach

Switching gears from Surfside brings us to its polar opposite, Tom Nevers. You’ll find few beachgoers, the occasional fisherman, and plenty of off-leash pups. We used to go to the Island Fair in Tom Nevers Field as kids and this whole area feels about as far away from downtown Nantucket as you can get without leaving the island entirely!

P.S. I’d love to hear your favorite Nantucket beaches in the comments — I’m always game to try out a new-to-me spot!

NANTUCKET KITCHEN REVEAL

One of the many Nantucket house projects my family tackled before our wedding last summer was to update the kitchen, which wound up becoming the central gathering spot after the sun set at both my Grandy’s 90th birthday party and our welcome party the night before the wedding. So far I’ve shared our living room, sitting room, powder room, guest bedroomupstairs bathroom, and entryway and today I’m finally sharing before and after pictures of the kitchen!

design darling nantucket kitchen before and after

The kitchen — and basically the entire rest of the house — used to be yellow, yellow, and more yellow. Yellow walls, yellow-ish floors, yellow curtains, so. much. freaking. yellow. We knew we wanted to give it a fresh coat of white paint as it’s connected to the living room that we’d already painted and the floors were stained dark early last summer when we did the floors throughout the rest of the house. Those two things made a huge difference right off the bat!

nantucket kitchen before and after

design darling kitchen before and after nantucket

My mom and I did some research on replacing the countertops but ultimately didn’t fall in love with anything much different than the white Corian countertop we already had, so we decided to keep both the cabinets and the countertops and instead focus on a new subway tile backsplash and all new appliances. We actually rented a wet saw on the island and hung the subway tiles ourselves — we saved a small fortune on labor and were pretty impressed with ourselves and the end result!

kitchenaid stainless steel microwave and gas range

kitchenaid stainless steel range and refrigerator

For the appliances, we looked around a bunch and settled on matching stainless steel appliances by KitchenAid, which we ordered online and had installed by local companies. Swapping out the white appliances for a new dishwasher, new microwave, new stove, and new refrigerator made a huge difference both aesthetically and in terms of our desire to actually cook in this house!

kitchenaid stainless steel microwave with white subway tile kitchen

dash and albert regatta stripe rug in kitchen

striped rug  //  dishwasher  //  microwave  //  stove  //  refrigerator

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