By Donna Garlough
Photography by Eric Roth | May 20, 2013 | Home & Real Estate
Anne and Charles Hajjar
The artwork in the entry foyer complements the furnishings. Reclaimed French limestone, through Paris Ceramics. Artwork, Jules Place
The wine tasting room features warm tones in leather and stone.
The bathroom features mosaic tile, marble, and Middle East–inspired details.
The family room makes a cozy retreat. Custom wool striped area rug, Stark. Black iron lantern, Dennis & Leen through Webster & Company at the Boston Design Center. Custom upholstered sectional sofa, Robin’s Nest through Owners Select. Coffee table in reclaimed elm, accent tables, floor lamps, and accessories, through Robin’s Nest
Nautical motifs abound, such as the lighthouse detail on the staircase.
“Robin is an artist,” says Anne Hajjar of her designer. “She’ll mix patterned fabric, a printed carpet, a floral bedspread, and it all goes.” Shaped, tufted headboard, M. Vargas Upholstery.
The living room gets plenty of natural light to show off its eclectic design. Rock crystal sconces, Dennis & Leen. Oushak area rug, through Stark at the Boston Design Center. Pair of gold benches, Minton- Spidell, upholstered in fuchsia satin from Osborne & Little. Lacquered coffee table, Beacon Hill. Caravaggio mirror, Dennis & Leen. Flooring: French white oak through Paris Ceramics.
A kitchen with two islands— homeowner Anne Hajjar’s idea—allows her to prep meals and mingle with guests at the same time. Custom cabinetry, Finlay Cabinetry. Backsplash tile and stone countertops, Tiles by Perfection. Kitchen pendants, Regina Andrew.
Anne and Charles Hajjar's Matha's Vinyard Manse
It was midwinter of 2009 when Robin Pelissier made her first visit to the site of the future Martha’s Vineyard manse. Standing with her new clients in the middle of the frost-covered plot abutting the Farm Neck Golf Club, the designer talked through her vision for the summer retreat that, two years later, would fulfill her clients’ every wish. “We stood there in the middle of the snow, putting sticks and stones out on the ground,” Pelissier recalls. “I’d be holding up a two-by- four trying to show ceiling height and saying, ‘Can you see it?’”
Fortunately for Pelissier, they could. Charles and Anne Hajjar had long admired the Hingham-based designer’?s work in friends?’ homes near Boston, so they knew that Pelissier’?s aesthetic fit well into their longtime dream. And when it came time to construct the seasonal home they would enjoy for decades—?whether for family dinners and lazy August days or glamorous fêtes benefiting the many philanthropic causes to which they’?re dedicated, including St. Jude Children’?s Research Hospital and the New England Baptist Hospital —they knew that Pelissier could add just the right blend of upscale polish and friendly comfort.
But even for an accomplished designer like Pelissier, striking the perfect balance between glamour and approachability was no small task. At 14,000 square feet, the structure conceived by the Concord-based architecture and construction services firm Domus is undeniably grand. That’s largely due to the imposing exterior, a sharp contrast to the typical Vineyard home. “Anne didn’t want the Cape Cod gray,” explains architect Charles Rolando, Domus’s president and lead designer. Instead the team opted for oiled cedar shingles, round stone in variegated shades of gray, copper gutters, and a pool deck clad in moody bluestone. Hefty wood beams salvaged from a 19th-century sailing vessel traverse the basement, a detail chosen as a nod to the locale’s nautical history. Rolando also designed the main staircase to resemble a ship’s mast, the media room a boat’s underside. And then there are the home’s vast proportions: eight bedrooms (five with private balconies), 12 baths, soaring ceilings, and walls of windows throughout the space.
Fortunately, says Rolando, the property doesn’t read as behemoth. “From the street it looks like a normal two-story home, with three stories facing the water, including the basement.” (By “basement” he means a fullheight lower level complete with gym and sauna, wine cellar, guest suites, and media room.) Still, given the structure’s masculine air, Pelissier believed that adding color, softness, and texture was paramount. She also encouraged the homeowners to consider how they would inhabit the space. “I really get to know the family personally and learn how they will live in the house,” she says. “Things like materials and lighting are going to affect the way they live in their home.”
As designs were developed and Pelissier and Rolando quizzed the couple about their lifestyle, it became patently clear that family time with their four children was a priority. “They are by nature very gracious, and there’s a lot of food and entertaining in their home,” Pelissier observes. “I wanted to make the home very easy for entertaining.” A spacious kitchen outfitted with custom cabinetry, a glimmering mosaic backsplash, Regina Andrew pendant lights, and beveled marble counters now flows into the family room, creating a space ideal for holiday dinners and impromptu reunions. “I have a big family, and we always have friends down,” says Anne Hajjar. “I love the fact that you can have 50 people in the kitchen and family room and it still feels okay.”
Outside, the natural-stone pool deck and adjoining living areas maximize comfort, and the family spends nearly every waking hour savoring the open-air spaces. “The kids are in the pool all day,” Hajjar says. “There’s an outdoor kitchen, grill, and tons of seating. You can eat outside and even shower outside.”
While the house is rife with playtime amenities—wine cellar, billiards room, workout space, and a bunk room where visiting golf buddies can lay their heads—the goal was to blend recreation with refinement. “They wanted something lovely enough for hosting guests, but resistant enough to stand up to wet towels and feet and Popsicles and all the things that go with entertaining in the summer and beyond,” Pelissier says. “We used a lot of indoor/outdoor fabrics, which are mold-resistant and scrubbable.”
In the more polished common spaces, the designer selected furniture in neutral or solid textured fabrics, along with copious Phillip Jeffries woven wall coverings—soft surfaces that balance the architecture’s weighty feel. Imported Italian limestone accents one of the house’s fireplaces. Then came the vibrant accessories, like pillows, ottomans, and books. “[The couple’s] aesthetic is very Mediterranean, and they love Moroccan pattern and color,” Pelissier notes. Nowhere is this more evident than in the home’s 12 bathrooms—each with its own unique style, using tiles such as laser-cut marble, limestone, and simple ceramic—and in the gold-leaf monogrammed “H” on the custom black wrought-iron staircase. “With Anne, more is more, which was really fun,” says Pelissier.
“It’s on the Vineyard, so I thought we could experiment with colors I’d never use in my suburban house,” Hajjar says of the jewel-toned interior palette. Pelissier concurred, noting that rooms with such high ceilings and large windows tend to “eat up the color.” A few days before the installation, feeling that the walls still needed more life, Pelissier called the Boston gallery Jules Place, known for its vibrant artwork. “I said I was hoping they could send someone down with some art. They did, and it was amazing. I thought, We’re never going to be able to use all this, but we took every piece.”
While Pelissier shied away from delicate lighting, fabrics, and furniture in the main areas (“I wanted them to have a coffee table you could sit on!” she says), the master suite and Anne Hajjar’s dressing room were a different story. Deeply stylish and always on the move, she craved an indulgent personal retreat. Pelissier obliged, creating a separate dressing room and bath with two crystal chandeliers, gilded benches, and floor-length closets for the homeowner’s gala-ready gowns, accented by raffia wall coverings in an iridescent lavender hue. For the master bed, she layered a tufted headboard and Oscar de la Renta fabrics for a custom, couture look. “I wake up and can’t believe I’m sleeping in there,” Hajjar says. “The colors are soft, but it’s feminine and glamorous.”
Charles, who works in real estate and hospitality, was less particular about the details. “He said, ‘I don’t care; I don’t need a closet,’” Pelissier recalls with a laugh. “For him, family comes before all else.” Tailoring the design to suit such a dynamic yet grounded couple made the project one to remember, she adds. “That’s the fun of the business: the yin and the yang, the push and the pull.” Fine-tuning the design until everyone was thrilled—architect, designer, and both homeowners—made for an exhilarating journey.
In this case, “thrilled” wasn’t a hard place to get to. “They’re an exceptionally enthusiastic, fun-loving, joyous couple,” Pelissier says. And with a finished dream home filled with friends and laughter, it’s not hard to see why they’re smiling.
December 3, 2018