Local designer Audrey Sterk takes her eye for beauty to the high seas.
Hinckleys are often called the Rolls Royces of the yachting world. But this winter, for islander Audrey Sterk, one of these luxury pleasure cruisers became a blank canvas for her unique designs. When Tim Barton and Doug Gray, the men behind Barton & Gray Mariners Club, decided to redesign the interiors of their Hinckley fleet, Sterk added her name to a short list of elite designers vying for the job. “I lived on a boat for four years in the Nantucket Harbor, so I have a little boating under my belt,” she says.
After graduating college, Sterk dropped anchor on Nantucket, living aboard a thirty-foot 1950’s era Richardson moored off Town Pier. With a handful of brushes and paints, Sterk started her interior design career by going door to door offering her services. “One small job led to another,” she says. Twenty-one years later, Sterk has designed some of the most spectacular spaces on Nantucket. From her studio on 18 Broad Street alone, she can point to her work at Mitchell’s Book Store, Station 21, and the much-anticipated Greydon House.
Landing the Barton & Gray gig offered a unique opportunity to take her designs to the high seas. “I really wanted to use primary colors, because I feel like this boat brings you back to the basics,” she says. “It’s classic.” Fusing a vibrant mix of blues, reds and yellows with custom fabrics and prints, Sterk has created a space alive with movement and feeling, all the while still maintaining the integrity of the Hinckley brand.
“I wanted to do something a little different,” Sterk explains as she enters the ship’s head, where she designed a dramatic mural stretching over all four walls of the tiny yet luxurious bathroom. The scene depicts a whaling hunt reminiscent of the moment the white whale infamously stove the Essex. No doubt, Melville would have felt right at home on this throne. Sterk’s mural was painted in conjunction with local artist David Lazarus, and the scene is repeated on throw pillows on the deck and in the master bedroom.
“We’ve done this with other designers,” Tim Barton says, “but [Audrey] gave it a better feel.” Doug Gray agrees, “If we had to choose a décor for all our boats, this would be it — and that’s not just a line. That’s for real.” Now at the ready for its next excursion, this Hinckley is docked by the White Elephant, joining the fleets that crowd the harbor come summertime. But if you look a little closer the next time you stroll by, you’ll see why there’s nothing else like it on the water. And that’s exactly what Audrey Sterk was fishing for.