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An Oceanside Writer’s Retreat

Local author Jeanne Blasberg finds inspiration in her Watch Hill home

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Jeanne Blasberg and her husband John have spent summers in Watch Hill for more than 20 years. The close-knit coastal community, full of family legacy, the spoils of summer and social circles, became the inspiration for Jeanne’s debut novel, Eden, much of which was written in the unique home she and John built in Watch Hill between 2012 and 2014.

“The property came on the market – a unique property with water access,” Jeanne explains. Previously, three smaller homes were on the plat on Osprey Point and the property already had CRMC approval, so the couple moved forward on their plan to build one large home there that maximized the views and offered a warm, welcoming feel with cues from its coastal locale.

They turned to architect Thomas A. Kligerman of the firm Ike Kligerman Barkley based in New York and San Francisco, not only for their sterling reputation, but because Kligerman might know Watch Hill better than any architect. A Weekapaug native, “Thom had a real sensitivity of the new England shingle style,” Jeanne says. He was also well versed in the challenges that come with building a waterfront home. “We were concerned we’d have a house that looked silly at the end of the day with all of the restrictions,” Jeanne explains.

Instead, the home was expertly designed to make good use of the required 15-foot elevation by making the void an outdoor living space framed by architecturally intriguing arches and including a convenient garage.

Where the seven-bedroom home vastly differs from many of its Shingle-style brethren is the interior’s palpable contemporary influence. “It’s an open plan inspired by our time living in Switzerland,” explains Jeanne. “[There are] elements of the old and the new: kind of a glass box inside Shingle-style origami.”

Jeanne says that while she and John “expressed our desires and what we loved and what we hoped” in terms of the design of the home, the project was ultimately Thom’s vision. “At different points, we modified based on our budget or our preferences.”

The couple shared the same approach when it came to the interior aesthetic as well, which Jeanne calls “a play on whites and woods” throughout. “I wanted it to be simple; to feel sophisticated, but that the kids could put their feet up on the couches,” she explains, even calling some spaces “a little edgy.” The edgy might be the one room in the house which unexpectedly blends in seamlessly with the clean, white palate: the family room/office is a dramatic high-gloss midnight black with deep navy undertones meant to mimic a ship’s hull.

It’s no surprise that Jeanne wrote much of Eden here. The home, she says, served as “a place where I can get quiet and do the deep, creative work. [It’s] a haven for serenity and peace, open to the world with all the windows.” The inspiring landscape and seascape made for the creation of the story’s setting in “Long Harbor, Rhode Island,” a fictional Watch Hill.

In the kitchen, a long island invites the family to enjoy casual meals, although in the warmer months, you’ll typically find them gathering at day’s end in the screened-in porch, soaking in the sunset during a relaxed, unplugged dinner. “We’re all about collecting at the end of the day,” says Jeanne. Oftentimes, the table will include a dish from the family’s vegetable garden which Jeanne enjoys tending.

As they look to the future, the Blasbergs anticipate spending even more time on Osprey Point, a place Jeanne and John say they created “as a family magnet so the kids can come back, and for us to grow, work and create.”