There's a certain kind of culture shock one might expect when moving from Texas to Rhode Island. For the Humphreys family, there was a lot to see, learn and experience when they transferred to the Ocean State. Though they left the longhorns behind (at least in the literal sense), the family is discovering that Texas isn't the only place where the stars at night are big and bright.
"I have some Dallas in here," Carrie Humphreys says, laughing unapologetically, referring to the leopard print accents in her office. But the warm, polished yet unpretentious style of her family's East Greenwich home didn't happen overnight.
The family rented a house in the coveted suburban village during their first year in Rhode Island to see if it was the kind of town they would later plant roots. With spacious homes, lush landscapes and a top-rated school system, it's easy to see why the family fell for EG.
Finding a home to suitably accommodate their Lone Star State-sized furnishings wasn't as easy. "My closet used to be the size of a small bedroom," Carrie explains. "Moving what we had into a New England-style home proved challenging."
Fortunately, Carrie and her husband Dustin worked with a realtor who helped them imagine the possibilities of local homes, not just see what was in plain sight. "Our realtor was forward thinking about the construction we could do," she explains.
Creative vision is exactly what they needed when their realtor took the couple to a dated home that was undeniably flawed but ripe for modifications. A rolling green lawn, four spacious bedrooms, enviable closet space, room for an office and a partially open floor plan were all in the pro column. But the positive characteristics were a bit camouflaged by the decor, or lack thereof.
"It was horrible," Carrie says, laughing. "I literally walked in, said ‘Nope!' and didn't even go upstairs." But after some more coaxing, she poked around and saw that much of the improvements to be made were merely aesthetic, while more ambitious projects, like building a new, contemporary kitchen and updated guest bath, could be planned, built and completed in due time.
"There was an open floor plan with the kitchen and living room. That doesn't happen in New England so much and that's what drew us to it," she says.
The Humphreys first tackled the kitchen as the decidedly dated space desperately needed to embrace the 21st century. "It was total ‘80s," Carrie says of the original kitchen. "Kelly green countertops, green and white striped borders, 4"x4" square tile which zig zagged into a different terra cotta tile... it was awful."
They turned to friend Janelle Photopoulos, founder of Fresh Nest Color & Design based in Wakefield, to reinvent the kitchen's aesthetic. The firm offers a sliding scale of residential interior design services and helped make Carrie's vision of a warm, welcoming space with plenty of room to entertain a reality. A pass through bar was created to maximize space and seating. The peculiar hodgepodge of dissimilar-sized tile was scrapped in its entirety to make room for contemporary 18"x18" tile in a neutral shade. Custom cabinetry, in a tone of creamy white glazed in a gentle gray shade, offers a clean aesthetic. A darker shade of gray on the range hood and on the island provide complementary focal points in the kitchen. "I wanted neutral. In Dallas, everything is dark hardwoods and a little rustic with shiny metals. I was trying to merge what I had with New England [design], so I did a lot of neutral and accented it with décor," says Carrie.
As she also felt a large pantry was essential, Carrie had the construction crew knock out a closet in the mudroom. The result is an enviable walk-in pantry that Carrie painted in a whimsical teal hue. There was also an ulterior motive for the new kitchen, concedes Carrie. "When you have high school kids, you want them to hang out at your house," so you can keep an eye on them, she says, laughing. "Well, sometimes."
The kitchen has already paid returns handsomely. Not only do the Humphreys, which include teens Derek and Madison, enjoy the updated look and practical layout, it's been ideal for the parties Carrie hosts as a clothing stylist. "I entertain a lot with my job and needed an open area to do trunk shows," she explains.
Upstairs, the Humphreys had Legacy Construction of Warwick gut the guest bathroom, bidding adieu to the floor-to-ceiling sea foam shade and dated fixtures. "They were in and out in two weeks - it was amazing," says Carrie. "They did every.thing they said they were going to do and it cost exactly what they said it would." The new look includes all new features and a light gray bead-board that complements the baby gray walls and silver fixtures. The space is finished with stunning photography by Madison.
Outside, the family transformed a once neglected yard into a relaxing gathering space. "It had been a rental property, so nothing was updated," Carrie explains. The three-season room leads to a fire pit, hot tub and manicured patio. Further beyond the landscaped yard opens to the woods, which lend a private, whimsical vibe. Looking around it's evident that for the Humphreys, home really is where heart is.