Room for Improvement

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Thanks to Red House Custom Building’s meticulous remodel of a living space, the room is now in unison with the elegant home.

By Rob Duca | Photography by Aaron Usher III

It seemed obvious to the homeowners that the family room in this East Greenwich, Rhode Island, home required a makeover. “It really stood out,” Justin Zeller says.

AU_160706_Red House_EG__8644_EXLGZeller didn’t mean that as a compliment. This charming and elegant 6,000-square-foot property featured stunning custom millwork and detail throughout the house, with a spacious first-floor layout that included an open eat-in kitchen, formal dining room and main study. But the family room was the odd duck, with few of the intricate design features that characterized the remainder of the home.

As owner of Red House Custom Building in Barrington, Rhode Island, Zeller was hired to design the transformation. The company was chosen due to a resume that includes finish work across the state since 2005, along with being honored with the Best of Houzz Service Awards in 2014, 2015 and 2016, a Best of Houzz Design Award in 2016 and the Contractor of the Year Award in 2015 and 2016.

Zeller’s challenge was to turn the rustic family room, which included a floor-to-ceiling fieldstone fireplace, into an elegant setting that matched the décor in every other room. “The entry hallway into the house is very decorative with a great deal of trim detail, and as you walked through it the view centered on the family room, which was sort of a letdown,” Zeller says. “The homeowner wanted a room with a theater experience that was more sophisticated. The fireplace had a built-in oven with two ceiling beams. It was very Colonial. It just didn’t go with the rest of the house.”

The first step was to convert the fireplace into gas, remove the stone, and replace it with a marble frame bordered by sleek white columns and a matching mantel. Two walls with wainscoting that matched already existing detail were constructed next to the fireplace and alongside a facing window. A large television now sits above the fireplace. Zeller also added intricate trim around the windows, with matching trim on the door.

“That was a delicate process,” Zeller says. AU_160706_Red House_EG__8695_EXLG“We had to find out the best way to tie the renovations together with some of the existing materials so everything in the room appears as though it was originally
there. We call it being ‘style specific,’ and that’s one of the major values our company brings to a renovation. This project happened to be a very sophisticated, very trim-heavy job, but we do plenty of other
work that is contemporary and minimalist.”

By using the existing overhead beams, the coffered ceiling now features eye-catching detail with a pattern of six grids. Lighting installed inside the crown molding of each coffer is capable of changing colors and intensity for setting a variety of moods. “Any time you change the lighting system during a remodel it’s a challenge,” Zeller says. “The woodwork also took quite a bit of time, because there was a lot of detail that we needed to match.”

Zeller also remodeled a large oval step that led from the kitchen. By shortening it and creating a more traditional square step-down into the family room, he opened up the area leading from the kitchen. Finally, he made certain that the color scheme continued the elegant theme, with the soft gray walls and ceiling now offsetting the white trim and beams.

“We got a big kick out of pulling everything together so that it all looks like it was originally envisioned to be that way,” Zeller says. “Now when people walk down the hallway and toward the family room, their expectations are met and even exceeded. That was the homeowner’s goal; they did not want visitors to be disappointed when they reached the family room.”

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