Tour a Coastal Rhode Island Home Set on a Peninsula
April 24, 2023
From sailboat races to seabird watching, the owners of a home at the edge of a Rhode Island peninsula never get bored.
Text by Bob Curley Photography by Read McKendree
If you have a waterfront home, you typically get a beautiful view. When you build a 16,000-square-foot house on a peninsula extending into the waters of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, you get three.
When architect Greg Snider stood on the site of what had previously been an oyster farm, he was captivated by the triptych in front of him: a classic New England seaside town to the left, an iconic suspension bridge straight ahead, and the islands and open water of the bay to the right.
To take full advantage of the vistas, “I basically designed three homes facing three directions,” says Snider. He further enhanced the half-hexagonal aspect by lowering the grade around the home and motor court, which allowed for twelve-foot-tall windows that adhere to the community’s roof-height restrictions.
Snider calls the seaside estate “a modern home treated in a traditional way,” and that’s most evident when approaching the front door through a courtyard garden designed by landscape architect Kate Field. There’s more than a hint of formality in the carved granite archway bending over the entry, and the gabled roof sheeted in slate tile gives the impression of an English manor home, albeit one with sharp Gothic peaks.
The perfectly symmetrical layout nods to the owners’ passion for precision, but once you pass through the modern glass door, “it gets eclectic fast,” says Snider.
A small foyer quickly yields to the trio of linked, high-ceilinged ocean-facing rooms: kitchen, living room, and an enclosed patio with NanaWalls that can be sealed shut or opened to the elements depending on the weather.
Interior designer Sarah Eilers’s “timeless transitional” aesthetic is most apparent in the kitchen, which nods to the French rather than English countryside while subtly sprinkling in nautical references like a central island shaped to resemble a ship’s wheelhouse.
The living room is the owners’ favored vantage point for watching evening sailboat races on the bay, but you don’t even need to look outside to see boats in the dining room: they’re painted right on the walls (including the owners’ own boat) in a four-wall mural depicting Nantucket Harbor. The room is perhaps the best synthesis of the talents of Eilers, Snider, and builder Maxx Heerlein of Kirby Perkins Construction, with the mural blending seamlessly into a painted groin-vault ceiling, which in turn nods to the arched walls and windows.
Beneath this ocean of blue sits a comparatively understated dining set and rug in shades of blue, ochre, and coral, comfortably complementing—but not competing with—the visual landscape. “The owners wanted a formal dining room that people wouldn’t be afraid to sit down in,” says Eilers.
Eilers spent three years working with the owners to gather art and antiques to fill the home; rustic elements like the reclaimed barnwood used in the kitchen ceiling add to the sense of warmth and livability that permeates the house.
Barring rising sea levels or other catastrophe, “this is a 500-year house,” says Heerlein, pointing to the quality of materials and skill that went into its design and construction. For the owners, however, the comfort and serenity of the home remains its timeless appeal.