Elkus Manfredi Architects oversees Nantucket hotel renovation

The White Elephant Nantucket (Mass.) is set to unveil a multimillion-dollar restoration and renovation in May to coincide with the property's 100th anniversary. Updates will be made to the hotel's 54-room Harborside Hotel and its 11 cottages. 

Elizabeth Lowrey, principal at Elkus Manfredi Architects, the design firm behind the White Elephant Palm Beach (Fla.), developed a bright, airy, residential-inspired refresh, drawing on the essence of Nantucket—its history, the quality of light, its natural landscapes, the colors, textures and artistic legacy. All materials and finishes are being replaced, from the carpets to the fixtures and the furnishings. The patterns of the textiles will draw on the island’s history of basket weaving, exterior shiplights evoke Nantucket’s seafaring traditions and a color palette of Labrador blues and seafoam greens are inspired by the coastal surroundings.

Ranging from 375 to 450 square feet of living space, guestrooms will be updated in a coastal color palette, with rattan textiles, white oak desks, scalloped lampshades and headboards, and grass cloth wallcoverings. Of the accommodations, 25 rooms and 25 suites have direct access to the harborside lawn.

The 11 cottages, which span 400 to 900 square feet, will all be individually decorated and styled after plants indigenous to Nantucket: Bayberry, Hydrangea, Daylily, Beachplum, Honeysuckle, Holly, Arrowwood, Marigold, Rosa Rugosa and Snapdragon. Each cottage will take a plant as inspiration, with color palettes and artworks that evoke the flora—tones of buttery yellow for the Honeysuckle room, pale lavender for Beachplum, and pale pink for Rose. The two-bedroom cottages have decks with coastal views, while the one- and three-bedroom cottages are set in a newly landscaped garden area with pathways that crisscross the central lawn. 

The White Elephant's redesigned lobby will include local elements like a basket-weave carpet design. The lobby has been reimagined with an expanded retail space and more approachable concierge and reception areas. A centerpiece of the new lobby is a large-scale commissioned artwork by Israeli painter Orit Fuchs (who created an acrylic artwork for sister property White Elephant Palm Beach), depicting a harborside scene of a woman (dressed in Nantucket reds) in a rowboat, floating by the White Elephant. 

New original art will be installed throughout the rooms and corridors, resulting from the brand’s all-new Artist in Residency Program, launched last August. New York-based art consultant and curator Emily Santangelo worked closely with White Elephant’s owners, the Karp family, to create a residency made up of acclaimed artists from around the world. The artists spent two weeks exploring the island to gather inspiration for their works, venturing to some parts of the island only accessible by boat.

Among the featured artists include painter Mary Chandler, who created watercolors of the indigenous Nantucket flora for which the cottages are named; installation photographer Thomas Jackson, who shot a series of colorful beachside photographs, the Maine-based landscape painter Greta van Campen, known for her contemporary hard-edged landscape scenes; Swedish artist Clara Hallencreutz and painter Renée Levin, who is best known for her depictions of coastal and natural objects.