Gently Renovating One of Newports Oldest Homes

Overlooking Easton’s Beach, the John Easton farmhouse is one of the oldest residences in Newport, Rhode Island. While the homeowners envisioned an expanded kitchen and sunroom for family gatherings and enjoying the gorgeous views, they did not want to compromise the integrity of their 17th-century home. Ramona Rodger and Barry Gano, partners at Lifestyle Designs in Rhode Island, worked with the clients and Beyond the Woods builders in Portsmouth to improve both form and function.

DESIGN/BUILD BY Lifestyle Designs PHOTOGRAPHY BY Rachael Girard Photography

DESIGN/BUILD BY
Lifestyle Designs
PHOTOGRAPHY BY
Rachael Girard Photography

The deeply veined green soapstone on the island and countertops inspired the kitchen’s interiors. “The owners had seen the soapstone and fallen in love with it,” says Rodger. “We tracked it down, and all of the choices were built around that stone.”  Above the island, a coffered skylight, suggested by the project’s architects, Mohamad Farzan and Alex Hurditch of Newport Collaborative Architects, gives the room its bright, airy feel. Mahogany custom cabinetry from Pennsylvania-based Quality Custom Cabinetry was painted colonial green, antiqued and distressed for an aged, handcrafted look; pegs in the corner of each door complete the effect. The green slate hearth for the fireplace complements the soapstone and lends added warmth to the eating nook—a cozy banquette stocked with throw pillows in a toile print selected by the client. “The banquette seats more people comfortably and adds softness to the room,” says Rodger. “The grandchildren love it.”

Over the range, a crackled-tile backsplash by Pratt and Larson features a country scene. “It gives a focal point in the long room,” says Rodger. Oil-rubbed bronze hardware also lends rustic appeal. “We wanted nothing sleek or modern,” says Rodger. “The plain hardware and antiqued color are very timely for a 17th-century home.”

The kitchen cabinetry is followed in the adjoining butler’s pantry. A laundry room, powder room and mudroom, practical additions all, were created by enclosing an existing porch. Nearby, the sunroom may have been the most heavily used space in the home but it was the least functional, says Rodger. To open the space, the project team expanded the deck and reconfigured the room’s French doors. “The doors used to lead nowhere,” says Rodger. “Now it feels very crisp and open, as if you’re in the garden with everything growing around you.” The new space allows for a graceful transition between indoor gatherings and outdoor entertaining. “The space is much more flexible,” says Rodger. “It’s easy to move sofas or add chairs, which makes it great for entertaining.”

With an inviting, open feeling that embraces the home’s historic past, the new rooms are a beautiful blend of past and present.

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