Admit it: there’s something fun about checking out other people’s houses. No? You don’t love HGTV just as much as the Travel Channel? You don’t browse real estate listings for pleasure reading, or attend open houses just for entertainment? That’s fine; I already knew my family was quirky (popping into open houses used to be part of the weekend routine when I was a kid, along with turning garage sale-ing into an Olympic sport and getting our dogs doughnut holes at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through.)
Speaking of dogs, I want to say a quick thanks to Tucker for stepping in and telling you guys all about our Memorial Day weekend adventures on the Vineyard. It was such a fantastic five day trip, and I hope you guys had as much fun reading those posts as I did, er, editing them.
That said, I thought it was about time to take the keyboard back. It’s been two years since I last led a virtual house tour of our family cottage in Oak Bluffs, and I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been itching for an update. A refresher: after a childhood spent visiting this idyllic Massachusetts island via a series of rental houses, in 2012 my mom and I returned for a nostalgic vacation and went on a walking tour of the historic Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association (MVCMA) in Oak Bluffs. On that tour, we spotted a for sale sign, and the rest is history. Our sweet yellow dollhouse was a bit of a fixer-upper, and my mom and her boyfriend Miller have worked tirelessly on the house for the past three years, doing the bulk of the manual labor themselves.
To really get an idea of how far we’ve come, check out the before pictures of the house in my first house tour post, one year in to cottage ownership. Fun fact: recently, my mom was contacted by editors at Yankee magazine, who had seen photos of the house here on my blog. They just wrapped a big interview and photo shoot, and this house will soon be gracing the pages of a glossy magazine! I’m so proud of my mama and her man for working such magic.
The MVCMA is an incredibly unique place to live. The three hundred houses that make up the Campground, as it’s known, were built in the 1800’s and now sit on the National Historic Registry (you can read more about the history of the neighborhood here). Strict regulations on renovations and ownership ensure that the houses maintain their original charm and the community remains tight-knit.
The houses are also a popular island attraction, which means you get to wave at a lot of tourists who peek into open doors and windows. We generally really enjoy the conversations we have with those walking by who are curious about life in the campground, though our house is admittedly off the main promenade, where it’s not unusual to see tourists hopping onto someone’s private porch to pose for a cheeky photo.
But no porch peeping necessary for you guys — I’m here to give you the grand tour.
I’ll start where I tend to begin my mornings in Martha’s Vineyard, in the upstairs back bedroom. I adore this colorful room and think it’s one of the most finished in the house. The side table needs a fresh coat of paint and I think we could throw some books on the bureau, but other than that it’s golden!
If you look closely at the before photos in my previous post, you’ll notice that we almost exclusively used the furniture that came with the house (plus several billion coats of paint). In the Campground, it’s standard for houses to be sold furnished — there’s a feeling that the house and its furnishings belong together.
Then there’s the middle bedroom. Access to the back bedroom requires walking through this one, hence there’s not a ton of privacy. Someday, when the shed off the kitchen is converted into a master bedroom (it’s in the works!) I’d love to see this converted into a writing and reading room — with a day bed for extra guests, of course.
This room has come a long way since my last virtual house tour, but I still think I’d love to see some color back on the walls, as well as some accent pillows to give the beds more visual weight. But hey, isn’t that lobster rug adorable?
From the middle bedroom, we head down the hall into the house’s one full bathroom (and yup, we had nine people sharing that one shower over July 4th weekend!) Since my last house tour, the vanity built-in was completed which makes a huge difference in making this room feel finished. It just couldn’t be cuter.
Finally, the front bedroom. This is the most private of the three (until the master bedroom is completed, that is) and has it’s own adorable balcony overlooking the street. It even has a teeny closet, a rarity in campground houses. I absolutely love what my mom has done with this room, brightening up the furniture and filling it with local art.
Looking at these photos we agreed the bed could be punched up with some more colorful pillows, but that aside we’re ready to declare this another room done.
The stairwell down to the first story is lined with more Vineyard art and local flea market finds.
And now, the first story of the house. Our front room is gargantuan by Campground standards, but we’re still struggling to find a layout that works, a furniture arrangement that we love, and a design scheme that unites it together. But it’s come a long way.
My favorite part of this room are the lanterns hanging over the couch from the Campground’s famous Illumination Night. We found these originals in the shed after we bought the house, and now they’re some of our most prized possessions.
Tucker’s favorite spot? The fireplace, of course. I crack up every time I walk into the house and find him here.
Like most families around the world, we do the most livin’ in the kitchin. It’s by far my favorite room in the house. It was the first room my mom redid after buying the place, so not much has changed aside from more accessories and storage and a need to redo the floors again already. (My mom’s big if-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now piece of advice to other home improvement addicts? Do the floors right the first time.)
I love that this room seamlessly blends parts of the house’s original cabinetry with innovative ideas from my mom’s
personal handyman boyfriend Miller, who designed this slide-out door/large pot and pan storage unit next to the refrigerator.
I dropped the ball on taking a great picture of the dining room, unfortunately, because it’s looking cuter than ever. We eat about half our meals in here, with the other half taking place in our cute little courtyard outside.
This room get’s plenty of action otherwise, as well, as the dining table does extra double duty as a desk and board game marathon station.
And that’s our little piece of Polly Pocket paradise. (Remember Polly Pockets? When my friend Liz visited, she hilariously declared our house one, and the comparison has stuck.) Fingers crossed that next time, we’ll get to show you a gorgeous renovation of the shed below, and a landscape overhaul of the courtyard it opens out to. Maybe I’ll even get fancy and draw a floor plan.
My mom and Miller (and unwitting houseguests who are handed a paintbrush soon after arrival) work so hard on this place and I’m ever grateful to them for taking one of my favorite travel destinations and turning into a place we can all call home.
Traveling to the Vineyard and hoping to see the inside of more of the Campground houses? Try to time your visit to the annual Cottage Tour. One day a year, five to six different residents open up their homes for neighbors and tourists alike to come take a peek. I was lucky enough to catch the 2015 edition and will be making it a priority from here forward! Tickets are $25.
Otherwise, you can catch a Walking Tour, offered every Tuesday and Thursday in July and August. These tours, led by MVCMA homeowners, don’t go inside the houses but do guide you through the Campground and provide plenty of anecdotes and history about the area. Tickets are $10.
Excited to check in again next year and see how far this little house has come! Stay tuned for more adventures on the Vineyard soon…