Can we take a peek?

Trespassing on the best Island properties (with permission).


My phone buzzed on the way to this Vineyard home: “Text me when you’re here,” it read. “There’s a mean goose that attacks people.”

I laughed to myself. These are the things you only hear on Martha’s Vineyard.

I pulled in, and sure enough, there he was — the mean goose. He was gray, about waist-high, and squawking — a protector. I sent a text back, “Here.”

Lynne Adams emerged from the front door. She wore blue WBUR pajama bottoms and a white blouse. She walked toward the goose with her arms extended wide, shuffling it further from the driveway.

“Should I run in?” I called.

“Yes, please,” she replied.

I made a go for the door, and Adams met me inside. I looked around and saw a wide-open space — where kitchen meets dining room meets living room meets entrance. I saw art, beams, and an overwhelming amount of wood. Timber, and lots of it.

I started this series with the intention to simply feature interesting Island homes. The ones we’ve heard of, spotted, dreamed about, and can’t help but be curious about. Who lives there? What’s it like? What do they do? This time, we found a classic Vineyard home — humble and homemade. The kind we all could likely picture ourselves in — living long, happy, all-you-could-ever need lives.

Adams started the tour — we tabled the goose encounter for the time being.

Everything about this house fit together like pieces of a perfectly impossible puzzle. She started with structure, which was done by a timber frame company.

“You have to provide them with a perfectly level foundation,” Adams said. “Then they come and put the whole thing up. It comes with the doors, windows, the walls, ceiling, and outside plywood. You can design it any way you want. You can make it any size you want. The enclosed house is up in a week.”

Adams said she and her husband George built it 10 years ago.

“I always wanted a timber frame,” Adams said. “I love them.”

Love runs thick throughout this Island home. There’s a fondness, a memory, tied to almost everything.

“I like this bathroom,” Adams said. “The shells, they were my grandmother’s. My husband’s grandmother happened to have a shell collection, too, so we used both of them.”

Shells detail the interior of the shower on the first floor bathroom. The counter is tiled with broken pottery. A mirror hangs over the sink: It’s framed with two branches that cross at the top, detailed with leaves and small acorns.

“My sister and I did a movie, and my sister’s character was a frame painter,” Adams said. “This was one of the frames we used.”

Adams and her sister Brooke are both actresses with boundless ties to film, theater, and the arts. Brooke is married to Tony Shalhoub, a renowned actor widely known for his role in “Monk” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” They live just next door, up the hill. I took a closer look at the adjacent house. It looked a lot like hers. There were five horses out front.

“Aren’t they beautiful?” Adams said. “Those are Sophie’s, my niece, Brooke and Tony’s daughter.”

We stepped inside the living room — an addition, built separately from the timber enclosure. Curtains hung on either side of the wall. I complimented the fabric.

“Brooke gave them to me as a bedspread, but it got messed up, so I cut it in half and made it into curtains,” she said.

Adams struck me as resourceful. The “if you want something done, do it yourself” type. She led us to a guest room, also on the first floor.

“I tend to stay here when no one else does. Did you see the sink?” she asked. It was also tiled, and Adams explained she’s done all the tiling in the house — a hobby of hers. She brought us downstairs; Buddhist prayer flags lined the bannister. Photos and paintings adorned the walls.

“This is all my sister’s,” she said, pointing to a few black-and-white pieces. “Most of the others are friends’.”

“What about this one?” I asked, noticing a three-dimensional piece burrowed into a narrow wall.

“Isn’t that fun? I love that,” Adams said. “My husband saw it and said, ‘I guess we’re stuck with it,’ because I had to cut a hole in the wall.”

Adams’ husband is a cyber art curator, and many of his pieces are featured in the house.

“Cyber art is any art that’s involved with a computer,” Adams said. “Isn’t this great?” she said, gesturing toward a small wooden frame with two feathers in the middle. She plugged in a wire dangling behind the frame. The piece lit up, and the feathers started vibrating from what appeared to be an electric current. “This isn’t really cyber art, but almost any type of art and technology, my husband’s involved in.”

Downstairs, there’s a large table made up of Adams’ tiles and broken plates. She also tiled the downstairs bathroom counter, with detail on the floor to match. The master bedroom is one room over.

“I love this in the summer,” she said, looking through four large windows facing the front yard. I could picture it in bloom. “It’s one of the things I’ve really spent a lot of time on, but you can’t see it now.”

The final stop on the tour was the upstairs loft. We climbed another set of timber stairs. The base of the bannister had industrial circular detail. “I saw something similar at Tamara Wise’s house — she used to run Midnight Farm,” Adams said. “She had one like that, but it was many thousands of dollars. I was in an art supplies store, and they had these half-circles on sale. So I just bought two and put them together.”

The loft is a combination TV room, extra bedroom, exercise room, and office. Adams said she designed the entirety of the house herself. I asked if she was a designer, or maybe an artist.

“I’m an actress first,” she said. “I started when I was 7, and was on soap operas for 10 years.”

Adams isn’t involved in any theatrical projects at the moment — she’s busy working on a Boston-based initiative called Black Ballot Power, which encourages black people to vote. She’s also working on an augmented-reality piece. Adams is designing three-dimensional fairies only visible through iPhone or iPad — kind of like ‘PokémonGo.’ The game is in development. It’ll be called, ‘Find Fairies in the Garden.’

“A friend of mine is working on the augmented-reality part,” she said. “We’re going to start populating fairies. It’s very fun. It’s for kids and for people with kids. You can put them all over your garden if you want to. Any profits that we make are going to environmental issues.”

Before I left, I had to ask Adams about the goose. She sighed.

“He was wonderful,” she said. “He was my pet this summer. Someone gave him as a gift to Sophie. He was so sweet. He would come over to me all the time. I would pet him, and he became extremely attached to me. If I took a walk up Meeting House Road, he’d follow me all the way. Sophie recently got 30 chickens and some ducks. [A friend] read that geese are sort of defenseless. If they’re picked on, they start attacking. Maybe these other animals were picking on him. At any rate, now he’s aggressive. So we’re going to kill him and eat him. I really believe in that. If I could, I would grow and eat everything, and I wouldn’t eat anything that I didn’t grow.”

We were interrupted by a knock. “That’s him,” Adams said. And like clockwork, the goose was tapping his beak at the side door. “He always wants to come inside,” Adams said.

“Do you sort of love this goose?” I asked.

“Oh, I love him,” she said. “His name is Mother. Isn’t he beautiful?”


Let us know if there’s a home on Martha’s Vineyard you’re curious about. We’ll see if we can make the connection and take a peek. Email