In the small village of Saunderstown, you’ll find Barbara and Tim McCormick, empty nesters who live in The Glen neighborhood near the University of Rhode Island. Surrounded by century-old oak trees on 1.5 acres, the couple refers to the property as Ring of Oaks. The McCormicks have lived in the house, built in 1999, for four years. “It’s a great place to walk our dog, steward our Little Free Library, and make some trails in the backyard,” says Barb. “We enjoy this peaceful setting of South County conveniently close to the campus to take advantage of the activities offered there.”
Prior to moving in, the McCormicks wanted to make some structural changes to the ranch style home and searched for a reputable construction company. Their realtor recommended Tegan and Company, who impressed the couple by creating a spacious floor plan by opening up the dining room and kitchen to the living room. “They also expertly renovated our plain-Jane living room mantle and made it into a fabulous two-story focal point of the home,” says Barb, who adds that Tegan and Company also completely gutted their “scary, dated master bathroom and turned it into a great master ensuite.”
Barb likes things that are beautiful and fun to look at. “I love graphic items, old things with wording, new things with witty sayings… graphic anything,” she says. “I’ve collected a number of antique enamel numbers from around the world, anything in a foreign language, you name it.” She defines her decorating style as “bright and happy,” noting a love of stripes, florals, and graphic patterns, which she likes to mingle with whimsical, quirky accessories, homemade items, and natural objects. Against a backdrop of crisp white, Barb skillfully combines these elements, resulting in rooms that are interesting, elegant, and cheerful.
Collecting original art is key to Barb’s personal decor style. “There’s nothing like the excitement of buying art from an artist you have admired for a while and have a piece hanging on your wall at home,” she says, adding, “You can always start small with a purchase of a small canvas or even a sketch.” Barb cites Shady Lea Mill in nearby Kingston as a reliable source for reasonably priced artwork; the couple also enjoys visits to local galleries like the Wickford Art Association and South County Art Association for inspiration.
When it comes to shopping, Barb recommends local places like Marine Consignment in North Kingstown, Eclectic Bungalow and RE in Wickford, and Jules Antiques in Richmond. For fresh flowers, it’s The Farmer’s Daughter in South Kingstown, and the Dahlia Shed in Portsmouth.
Living in the Ocean State, Barb notes having a fair amount of nautical and coastal items on display, including natural objects she’s found on the beach. Things like sun-dried horseshoe crab carcasses, sea glass, and periwinkle and other shells are decorative accents that offer a sense of place.
Ever-creative, Barb likes to make things and uses a small corner of the house as her studio. Using shoreline finds she constructs things like sail boats from pieces of driftwood. “I have a habit of picking up plastic garbage from the shore and then clean and sort to make mosaics on acrylic with them,” she says.
Recently, Barb has starting to paint and uses local scenery as her subjects along with rendering more abstract pieces. A visit to her Instagram page offers peeks of graphic acrylic work on wood panels, sketches of cairns along Newport’s Cliff Walk, even drawings on the sand. Says Barb, “Art from anywhere in the world is a great way to make a house a home.”