Thing of Beauty: Local Tray!

Just because it’s called a “formal” dining room doesn’t mean you can’t showcase pops of color to jazz it up. And stop using neutral tones for your kitchen’s color palette – it’s the heart of your home, after all. Make it lively!

Those are just a few of the lessons longtime friends Linda Carnegie and Nancy Blair picked up and put to use after twenty-plus years in the interior design business on Martha’s Vineyard. In 2013, the friends took their partnership one step further and launched Carnegie Blair Designs, a line of painted housewares intended to further enliven one’s household décor. Today, their place mats, coasters, trays, floor cloths, napkins, and more can be purchased at the Beach House in Vineyard Haven and at Past & Presents in Edgartown, as well as in thirty stores off-Island.

Fitting for a duo with deep Island connections, many of the designs are inspired by the Vineyard’s coastal charm. Currently, they offer five collections: magnified botanicals, colorful sea life, rich compass roses, coastal china patterns, and, of course, renderings of the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Carnegie is the paintbrush behind the partnership, as she has been for so many years. Though Carnegie is not an interior designer herself, Blair frequently called on her to revamp interior design commissions. “The majority of my work is in private homes,” Carnegie explains, though recently she has been putting the finishing touches on a mural at the West Tisbury Free Public Library.

Blue lobster fourteen-inch mango wood tray.

Today, Carnegie is in the habit of painting on large swatches of canvas in a kaleidoscope of colors and reducing them to digital files, which are in turn printed on the various products. “I start off big, because when it reduces, it tightens it,” making for a crisper image, she explains.

“I love the way she paints,” raves Blair, who handles the marketing aspect of the business. “She gets it.”

The most popular image currently is that of the elusive blue lobster with a strié, or combed, edge. “There are a lot of crabs and lobsters out there,” says Blair, “but somehow, everybody likes the take on it.”

New to the Botanicals collection is a blue hydrangea, which joins five other bold florals. “We are hoping to add a flower every year,” Blair says. Their goal is to have eight different varieties altogether.

In a nod toward classic blue and white Canton china patterns, Carnegie painted a harbor scene well known to Islanders and visitors alike – the Chappaquiddick Beach Club. The signature tented changing areas and Chappy Ferry may be obvious to locals. But to a woman in Palm Beach, the scene resembled Charlestown Harbor.

As they say, the customer is always right. And it doesn’t hurt in the long run, since Carnegie Blair Designs is focused on expanding its Island-based business into compositions that have broader appeal.

With that in mind, the women are keeping their ears open for new design suggestions from buyers. “They would love to see tropical fish with a coral reef around the edge,” Blair reports. And their representative in New York is pushing for a horse theme. “Like it hasn’t been done,” Carnegie says with a laugh.

For the record, lobsters and hydrangeas have been done before too. But they’ve never been done quite like this.

Carnegie Blair Designs products are available at the Beach House in Vineyard Haven, Past & Presents in Edgartown, and at

Comments (2)

Diane Gunderson
Pacific Palisades, California
Loved the crab and lobster the first moment I saw them! (a year ago) I was pleased to see that Nancy Warwick was selling Carnegie Blair at Warwicks in La Jolla. There is a store in Malibu, Room at the Beach, that would be a good spot for Carnigie Blair. The past two years they have sold items from their store at the annual Westside Guild for Children's Hospital Los Angeles event at the Beverly Wilshire. Let me know if you need assistance contacting them. So happy things are going well for you! Xo Diane Gunderson
November 11, 2015 - 12:37pm
Joan Newland
Nancy a great article, missed the vineyard this summer, Can you send me a picture of the hydrangea mats.
November 13, 2015 - 12:56pm
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