Your home: great rooms

Living large

A Martha's Vineyard home is oriented toward expansive views and suited to entertaining and family time - even naps.

Martha's Vineyard home (Globe photo / Eric Roth) The corner booth: Set away from the great room's center, a long couch is ready for quiet conversation, reading, and siestas. Because the 40-foot-long room ecompasses the home's dining area and principal living space, it must also serve for entertaining groups, small and large.
By Jaci Conry
December 5, 2010

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Gwenn and Mark Snider’s rambling one-level vacation home in Katama – a section of Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard – is all about the laid-back lifestyle. “We are very relaxed when we’re on the island, and we wanted our home, and the great room, in particular, to be conducive to that vibe,” says Gwenn Snider, who, with her husband, owns Edgartown’s Winnetu Oceanside Resort.

The Sniders, whose home the rest of the year is in Weston, have three children, ages 22, 19, and 15. The family wanted the Katama home’s great room and its sweeping water views “to serve as a center for naps,” Snider says, joking only a little. But because the room encompasses the home’s dining area and principal living space, it must also serve for entertaining small and large groups.

The couple turned to Weston interior designer Mary Jean Keany of Anamika Design, who created three distinct spaces within the narrow, 40-foot-long room. There are two seating areas as well as a sizable dining alcove. Furniture groupings and area rugs subtly divide the room. The key, Keany says, is having “rooms within a room” that “enable the great room to be multifunctional and unified at the same time.”

The room’s entire south wall is made up of windows looking out at the Atlantic. “The natural light that comes through is wonderful,” Gwenn Snider says. “We didn’t want anything to inhibit that or compete with the view.” To that end, there are no curtains or other window coverings, the walls are neutral, and only a few colors appear in the furnishings. For those, Keany selected shades that reflect the outdoors. In one seating area, sofa and side chairs are covered in pale gold. In the other, armchairs grouped around the fireplace are upholstered in a sea-green fabric. “The cloth has a little hint of blue in it,” Keany says, “and the color seems to transform during different times of day, similar to the ocean that you’re seeing outside.”

The furniture is comfortable and versatile – leather cubes serve as mini-tables or additional seating – and most of it can be moved around easily. A mahogany dining table has two leaves. “We can fit a huge number of people at the table,” Snider says. “But it works great for smaller groups, too, so we are constantly using it.” Dining chairs by Donghia are lightweight and stackable, making storage easy.

Along the wall behind one seating area, a series of built-in cubes serves as a bookcase and display area for vases and artwork the family has collected. “The room is very open,” Keany says, “and while that is great for a variety of reasons, I thought it would be nice to create a cozy nook. The shelves anchor the room.”

The Sniders spend almost all of their time in the great room. “It is the true center of the house,” Snider says. “The wonderful thing is that the whole family can be in here at the same time, doing different things, but together.”

Jaci Conry is a writer on Cape Cod. Send comments to