A well designed room is like a painting, and like any great artist, a designer knows when it’s time to stop.
“You have to sort of look at it, and walk away from it, because you don’t want to go too far,” said Gil Walsh, owner of Gil Walsh Interiors. “You have to say, Ok, I think this is it. It’s done. You know when it’s time to stop because you get it. You just get it.”
If you Google Gil Walsh, you’re only a few clicks away from some of the most ornate spaces where attention has been lavished on the tiniest details. Splashes of bold, eccentric color command her portfolio. She’s been in the business for over 40 years and has trained with industry experts. Walsh arrived on Martha’s Vineyard almost 20 years ago. She’s originally from Ligonier, Pennsylvavia.
“Once you’re on Martha’s Vineyard, you have to come back,” she said. “It’s in your blood.”
Walsh bought her home on Bankers Way in Edgartown about two years ago. The property sits near Katama and South Beach, and abuts the Field Club, a private club for homeowners in the neighborhood. Patrick Ahearn Architects built and designed the original home. Walsh and her team of designers, project managers, and local architects came in and added Walsh’s custom aesthetic. It was only about a month ago that Walsh stepped back, looked around, and considered her home complete.
For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it was created with the intention to simply feature interesting Island homes. The ones we’ve heard of, spotted, dreamed of, and can’t help but be curious about. Who lives there? What’s it like? What do they do?
Project manager Julie Sierputoski met me on a Friday afternoon. Walsh was working from her Florida office — the firm has two — one on Martha’s Vineyard and the other on West Palm Beach. Sierputoski has worked closely with Walsh for the past four years.
“Typically, Gil and I go to a client’s home, meet them, and scheme,” Sierputoski said of the design process. “We have different looks depending on the client. This is Gil’s home so…”
So a Gil Walsh home designed for Gil Walsh — this was as representative as it gets.
The four-bedroom, four-bath, 3,864-square-foot home has weathered shingles, white trim, and essex green shutters and doors. Our tour began in the “party barn” which is a detached building with a cupola and weathervane on top. The barn has two sets of large carriage house doors with brass detail that open to a spacious first-floor sitting room.
I saw pine, brick, and floor-to-ceiling beadboard paneling the entire room. The brick floor was hand-laid. There were couches and chairs, cushions and throw pillows, repurposed antiques and vintage displays such as a donkey from Mexico and a barber shop pole. There were strategic pops of color, color, and more color.
“Imagine this as a concrete slab,” Sierputoski said. “We reworked this entire garage.”
She led us upstairs to the office space where she and Walsh work.
“Pay attention to the railing,” she said as we climbed the steps. My palm glided along the smooth painted wood — it was cut to perfectly fit the shape of my hand. This is the kind of detail Walsh’s work represents.
The upstairs office included table workspaces, fabric samples, and a library of interior design inspiration. I commented on the shape of the ceiling, which angled inwards and upwards. Architectural details were added by Joseph W. Dick-Architecture Inc., who’s worked with Walsh on previous Vineyard projects. Timothy McHugh Builders and Arthur Sierputoski Contractors were also involved in the build-out of Walsh’s vision.
We exited through the side door, which led us to an outdoor pool, garden, and porch area. Two trellises were installed on either side, lending a “secret garden” feel to the back porch. An elliptical window was another added architectural element. White-trimmed French doors opened to the first floor of the house. Our photographer asked the question of the moment, “Is this Versaille?”
Never have I seen more masterful detail displayed under one roof. Down to the feet of the tables and chairs, everything in that house was put there on purpose.
“This was a chair Gil loved,” Sierputoski said. “She had an artist paint this design on it.”
Six upholstered dining room chairs were stenciled golden with a vine and leaf pattern. An antique piece was custom cut to fit in the corner with the same stenciling to match. An English setter weathervane by Travis Tuck was displayed in the dining room, and a pair of Christopher Spitzmiller lamps introduced the living room. Patterned rugs, upholstered furniture, antique wall art, and tactful symmetry adorned the space. Nothing exactly matched, but at the same time, everything exactly matched.
The kitchen was designed with marble quartz countertops, built in cabinetry, a six-burner Wolf range, and white beadboard paneling with crown molding.
“See how everything relates?” Sierputoski asked. “All the layers and colors, doesn’t it make you happy?”
She was right. I felt like a queen in this home and nothing about it was mine.
“Oh, there’s more,” Sierputoski said. “This is just the first room,”
We walked to the foyer, where there was a table detailed with willow and seashells, which made its way to the Island from the south of France. A nearby rug came from Egypt. Many pieces in Walsh’s collection were furnished from her travels.
The master suite is down the hall on the first floor. A light blue valance with off-white stitching hangs above her queen bed. A clean, simple white comforter matches the curtains, rug, and end-of-bed upholstered bench. Pops of color come from art on the walls and pale pink lampshades. Double doors open to the pool and porch. Walsh told The Local it’s her favorite room in the house.
“But generally speaking, I love every room in my house,” Walsh said over the phone. “That’s what I tell my clients, too. Every room has to be special — it has to have a special feature, whether it’s an architectural detail or a fabulous piece of furniture.”
“Should we go up or down?” Sierputoski asked as we continued the tour. We made our way to the basement — another space that was completely concrete until Walsh got her hands on it.
Three rugs, each distinct in design, color, shape, and pattern sat at the bottom of the stairs. A tribal skirt from Africa hung on the wall. Two antique sumo wrestler lamps balanced end tables on either end of the couch. Walsh found a red sari she used to cover an ottoman to pull out the reds from the carpet.
Up on the second floor, there’s another sitting room with more upholstered furniture, and more unimaginable detail. An elegant, yet comfortable flair to everything with whimsical almost-Alice-in-Wonderland-like detail.
“We call this the queen room,” Sierputoski said leading us to an upstairs guest bedroom. Floral valances from one of Walsh’s previous homes hung over the window. “She saved the fabric and had them cut to fit these windows,” Sierputoski said.
The next guest room is the blue twin room, Sierputoski’s personal favorite, which featured two blue twin beds on a multicolor rug with matching upholstered chairs. Sierputoski led us to the opposite wing of the floor, “Every room has its own theme,” she said. The third guestroom, the needle point room, had a pair of twin beds with pastel throw pillows and simple white bedspreads. A light blue, floral, needle point rug blanketed the floor. A Victorian writing desk was in the corner.
“Gil absolutely loves her antiques,” Sierputoski said. “If she finds something that’s not in perfect condition, she’ll have it restored.”
I asked Walsh where she begins when designing a space.
“A great place to start in a room is either with a great painting on the wall or a carpet,” she said. “Another great place to start is with a fabric you just have to have.”
If you’re trying to figure out what color to paint a room, “Go to your most favorite flower or animal,” Walsh said. “Look at the colors and the details. It tells you what you like.”
Is there a Martha’s Vineyard home you’re curious about? Email email@example.com. We’ll see if we can make the connection and take a peek.