Visit a Summer Cottage by the Sea

May 2, 2024

A beloved coastal home receives a gentle but thorough reinvention to accommodate a family of seven.

Text by Bob Curley    Photography by Nat Rea

A coastal Rhode Island vacation home with a long history of change has emerged from its latest makeover with an open floor plan, a spacious new kitchen, and easy flow to outdoor spaces, all tailored to fit a large family content to spend their summers by the sea.

Built in 1910, the 2,400-square-foot house in Little Compton started as a simple, square summer cottage with exposed studs, lime-washed walls, and tiny rooms. But 100-plus years and a variety of owners had left a mark.

“When we got there, what caught my eye was how many iterations of this house there had been over the years,” says Wade Paquin of WKP Construction. “There had been at least six modifications, which is why it ended up so chopped up.”

The current owners tasked Paquin and interior designer Patti Watson of Taste Design with yet another update, this time to provide better access to the recently added pool, bring cohesion to the second-floor bedrooms, and replace a dark and narrow kitchen that had been shunted to the middle of the house and sat smack in the home’s highest traffic area.

“The kitchen was basically in a hallway that was the main access to the new pool,” says Watson. Working within the home’s existing footprint, Watson developed a new layout that saw Paquin knock down several interior walls and convert the former first-floor guest bedroom—which featured the best water views in the house—into a spacious new kitchen. “The owners really love the size of the home; they were not looking for an expansion, just an improved floor plan,” she says.

It was also important to the owners to retain the home’s original charm and character, from design to construction. “We intentionally didn’t make everything plumb and level,” says Paquin. Watson’s interior design focuses on traditional elements like V-groove ceilings, barnwood beams, and cherry furnishings while also incorporating the owners’ extensive collection of American antiques and art.

“Working antiques into a useful home for a family of seven was a tough balancing act, but the art and accessories were all well-chosen, and we spent an entire workday observing how the home—and antiques—were used to design a plan that reallocated space to meet the needs of a busy family,” Watson says. Summer never looked sweeter.

Project Team
Interior design: Taste Design
Builder: WKP Construction

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