Maria and Andrew Coughlin were shopping for starter homes in the Newport area when they decided on a whim to look at house in Tiverton. Maria’s dad, who works in real estate out of state, happened to be in town, and accompanied them on the go-see. He was convinced it was a good buy; the couple agreed, and made an offer. “We ended up here by accident,” says Maria. “but in Jamestown and Newport, we couldn’t afford what we wanted.”
Just 25 minutes from both Newport and Providence, the 1,900-square-foot house sits on a dead end street with views of the Sakonnet River. That location and the house’s value won them over. Still, there was a lot of work to be done to the 1906 Victorian home.
“This house was in pretty poor shape when we bought it,” says Maria, a photographer who also works in the marine industry. The interiors were dark and dingy and it needed new windows throughout. A 1970s addition added great living space, but had fake wood beams and paneling and was awkwardly tacked on to the back of the house. But the couple – both experienced DIYers – were up for the challenge. Andrew, a furniture designer and craftsman who owns AC Grayling, had not only the know how but the tools to do a lot of the work himself. The rest – plumbing, wiring, and so on – he was willing to learn.
They started by tackling the addition, which was stripped down to the studs. Removing a wall, they opened up the space to the kitchen. “It’s a pretty dramatic change,” says Maria, who notes that making the space open-plan changed the whole flow of the house. “We wanted one big room you could entertain in.”
Andrew, who studied woodworking at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, designed and built a curved mahogany mantel that he installed around the existing stone chimney. Adding to the nautically inspired décor, a coordinating bookcase is reminiscent of a ship’s ladder. (The couple, who met sailing, have both worked as professional boat captains.) A curvilinear coffee table, also Andrew’s work, is made from mahogany, too.
In the kitchen, Andrew built all new cabinets; some use glass recycled from the house’s old windows. He also crafted a spacious island and built-in desk. Now, the bright, open space is the heart of the home.
The master bedroom also showcases the couple’s unique, preppy style. Borrowing space from the next-door office, they expanded the depth of their closet and installed a custom sliding barn-style door. But the bed is the room’s crowning piece. Instead of building a platform with the expected posts and legs, Andrew built a sleigh bed that hangs from ropes fastened to beams in the ceiling. The effect is clever, dramatic, and utterly graceful. “It’s just like sleeping on a boat,” says Maria. “It’s very heavy, so it doesn’t move that much, but it’s like being rocked to sleep.”
After structural work was complete, Maria worked her magic with color and pattern. “I love that Nantucket look,” she explains, “and a very calm palette. There are a lot of neutrals here, but there’s still a lot of color.” Pretty blues and grays fill the downstairs and master bedroom, but in the guest room and office, Maria pumped up the fun, experimenting with Caribbean pink and dark green, respectively. (A stickler for getting hues just right, she admits to repainting the upstairs bath four times.)
“Andrew and I collaborated on a lot of the design,” says Maria, who used Sherwin Williams products and painted rooms throughout by herself, “but I like more color.”
<em>Photography by Maria Burton Photography.</em>