A Shingle Style Home On The Rhode Island Coast

June 21, 2021

Washed with light from dawn to dusk, a new Shingle-style home on Rhode Island’s coast represents a bright new phase for its happy owners.

Text by Paula M. Bodah    Photography by Nat Rea    Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent

The house in the Providence suburbs had been a fine place to raise a family, and it certainly held plenty of happy memories. But as Kathy and Doug ushered the second of their two daughters out of the nest, they wanted to look to the future, not the past. Their next house would be a place for making new memories.“We wanted to build a multigenerational home, a place we could leave to our daughters, a place that would live beyond us,” Doug says.

Envisioning a home away from the suburban bustle, they set their sights on Rhode Island’s south coast, ultimately settling on a parcel of land in the seaside town of Narragansett. The lot was especially appealing, Doug says, because it juts out from the coastline. “It probably has 270 degrees of views. We look back to the town of Narragansett, and across to Newport and Jamestown,
and out to the ocean.”

A classic house of shingle and stone seemed the perfect choice for such a special lot, and Newport architect Alec Tesa obliged, designing a Shingle-style beauty that looks like it’s been perched on this very spot since the Gilded Age. People familiar with Narragansett’s Coast Guard House (aka The Towers), built in 1888 by McKim, Mead & White, might recognize Tesa’s homage to the designers of that iconic building in the home’s entrance, where two peaked-roof projections are connected by the front door’s arched roof.

Inside, Tesa’s meticulous design continues. From the foyer’s white-paneled walls, to the rich, dark paneling in Doug’s handsome second-floor office, to the unique ceiling treatments in every room, Tesa didn’t stint on unique detailing. “We try not to have too much drywall in our houses,” the architect says. “We like details, and we have a lot of fun with them.”

Patti Watson’s interior design plan masterfully but never stereotypically plays to the home’s waterfront location. “We took cues from the location, certainly—the sand and the sea—but it’s a soothing, nature-inspired palette, rather than traditional blue and white,” she says. She also included plenty of fun details, like the dining room chandelier, a bubble-like confection crafted by local glassblowers Jennifer and David Clancy, and the sunburst motif of a mirror and a pair of sconces in the living room, chosen as a nod to the home’s name: Sun’s Race.

The name, taken from the title of a poem the eldest daughter wrote in the fifth grade, is more than appropriate. With its perfect siting, the home is flooded with sunlight from dawn to dusk.

That the girls were single when Kathy and Doug began planning the house didn’t stop the couple from imagining future sons-in-law joining in family dinners and laughing grandchildren playing on the lawn. Kathy recalls that she and Watson talked about how perfect the grand staircase would be for wedding pictures one day. “And sure enough,” she relates, “our older daughter got married, and we have some beautiful wedding photos taken there.”

The arrival of a grandson early last year is a sweet next step toward the fulfillment of their dreams for a home to be enjoyed for generations. “We just love it,” Kathy says. “We can’t wait to make more memories.”

Project Team
Architecture: Alec Tesa, A. Tesa Architecture
Interior design: Patti Watson, Taste
Builder: Mark Horan, Horan Building Company
Landscape design: Brian Muoio, Briden Nursery