Of all the world's many styles of holiday house few are more evocative of idyllic summer days, tinged with nostalgia and romance, than the traditional cottages of New England. From Long Island to Maine, these clapboard houses - whether lovingly restored originals or carefully detailed reproductions - have come to epitomise an all-American notion of ease and simplicity. And so, when commissioning his perfect holiday home in the form of a 43-metre custom-built motor yacht from the Italian shipyard CRN, that is what the owner of Lady Trudy - an American businessman - took as inspiration.
Sink into one of the cane-sided armchairs or curl up on a sofa in the main living room and, if not for the constantly changing view outside - secluded Italian bay, palm-fringed Caribbean island, or wherever your fancy takes you - you'd be hard-pressed to remember that you're not in Nantucket, let alone on a yacht. Even the correct terms - ‘saloon' rather than living room and ‘cabin' rather than bedroom suite - seem altogether too ‘yachty' for this beautifully executed living space.
From the mahogany floorboards and white ash panelling to the unusual detail of shuttered bay windows on the main deck and tiny elements such as custom-made door handles and drawer pulls (a shell here, a starfish there; each suite has its own motif), it is pure New England. And yet, remarkably, Costanza Pazzi and Monica Quattrini from CRN's in-house design studio, had never set foot in such a house.
"We did a lot of research," says Monica, "getting a huge number of books on the subject and searching through countless fabric and product libraries for references - then we distilled the ideas, designed most of the furniture pieces ourselves and had them custom-made in our own workshops."
The designers were also fortunate in having a client who not only loved being part of the creative process (for both the construction of the yacht as a whole, and the detail of its decoration), but was also happy to trust their decisions. In fact, so passionately did he become involved that he rented a country house near Ancona, on Italy's east coast, to be close to the shipyard.
The owner was unusual, too, in wanting to have the yacht designed so that he could spend more than half the year on board, rather than just using it for a week or two at a time. And this, says Costanza, had a strong influence on several aspects of the design. "We wanted to create a very warm and domestic feeling on Lady Trudy." Hence the mahogany four-poster bed in the master suite, for example, as well as the emphasis on free-standing rather than built-in furniture and the gorgeous family-style kitchen (hardly a ‘galley' in the usual sense), complete with La Cornue cooking range. Equally, the mixing of colonial and contemporary, white wood and mahogany, Persian rugs and European artefacts was deliberate. "Just as in any family's home, there is a mixture of old and new pieces that have been collected and added over time," says Monica. "That's what makes it personal and gives it spirit. I also think that the very close relationship we had with the client has somehow come through in the warm feeling of all the spaces."
Another request of the owner's, also rare with boats of this scale, was that, in both style and materials, the entire yacht should feel "casual enough that you can flop down and relax, even in a wet swimsuit". Thus the fabrics are simple cottons rather than delicate silks, the custom-made carpets, hand-woven by internationally renowned Tai Ping, are also cotton (feeling wonderfully soft to bare feet), and the indoor and outdoor areas are very closely linked in theme, materials and the use of fresh, clear colours. "The owner genuinely loves the sea and it was important to maintain a close connection to the water," says Luca Boldrini, brand manager at CRN, who headed the project. "While that may sound obvious in connection to boats, it's not always the case with large yachts."
While the aesthetic of Lady Trudy adds much to this feeling, the tour de force is the ‘beach deck' at the stern of the yacht. Here, at water level, a mini-gymnasium opens via a wall of sliding glass doors to a two-metre wide deck that unfolds hydraulically when the yacht is at anchor. In the master suite a similarly clever touch is a ‘sun porch' (complete with traditional wicker armchairs), which can be opened up to the elements or enclosed, according to where the boat is and how the owner feels.
That's what this yacht is all about: a retreat where the owner and his guests are at the heart of everything.