When Diane Bianco sold her home in South Kingstown five years ago, she wasn’t quite sure of her next step. A native Rhode Islander, Diane knew all the nooks and crannies of the Ocean State and always loved East Greenwich for its small town charm, bustling downtown and cozy-meets-coastal vibe. “When I was 27, I used to live [there] in an old Victorian. It was kind of a creepy attic apartment and I was paying like $400 a month,” she says, laughing. Despite her less-than-stellar post-graduate crash pad, she always remembered how much she enjoyed the convenience of walking to the salon to get her hair done and dining at the area restaurants.
Unsure if she should even buy or rent, Diane began to take a closer look at the East Greenwich area’s real estate market, keeping her options open. She spotted what could have been a too-good-to-be-true, two-level condominium in the heart of downtown, and quickly enlisted a friend to see the property for herself.
“We saw the baker’s island and the kitchen and she said to me, ‘This is yours!’ And I said, ‘This is so mine,’” Diane recalls. A self-described “Pottery Barn girl,” Diane knew her existing pieces would perfectly complement the contemporary but cozy feel of the condo. “I ended up getting a really good deal,” and the rest, she says, is history. “I just had this sixth sense that it was supposed to be mine.”
Built in 2005, the luxury living-inspired condo features a combination of marble flooring and hardwoods throughout, two bedrooms, two full baths, a half-bath and 1,660 square feet of living area. Much to her delight, the condominium was turn-key ready: not a single structural modification needed to be done. “And it had a real custom look to it,” she adds. “The original owners invested a lot of custom detail and finish work.”
After settling in, Diane did decide a few minor cosmetic changes might better suit her taste, so she turned to her aunt to make custom window treatments with a fresh, modern feel and switched out some pendant lights in the kitchen. Essentially, Diane’s idea of “new home renovations” was accomplished in a weekend.
Weekends, in fact, are especially relished this time of year. Diane says that being able to walk out her front door and be right on Main Street offers a “unique kind of living in Rhode Island.” Within minutes, she can perch herself at one of East Greenwich’s popular waterfront hotspots along Greenwich Cove overlooking the picturesque marina and enjoy lunch, dinner or drinks with family and friends. Mornings mean freshly roasted coffee is just a stone’s throw away from her bed and when it’s time to get glam, the salon – yes, the same one she found when she was new to town in her 20s – is just a short walk home. “It’s just such a funky, fun area.” she says.
Although surrounded by more than a dozen delightful cafes and restaurants, Diane also enjoys cooking and playing hostess at home. “I entertain a lot,” she admits. “Both friends and my big Italian family.” She says she has had upwards of 20 people for gatherings, including for an annual tradition that brings the women of her family together to mix, mingle and bond. The open floor plan ensures a natural flow (even in the kitchen space, which is equally open). When there are special events along Main Street like the annual Memorial Day parade, she has no shortage of companions who are eager to claim a front-row seat – from the comforts of Diane’s living room. “It’s not a big space, but it’s a comfortable space,” Diane explains. “It gets a lot of light because there are lots of windows.”
Diane’s personality is warm and welcoming, and she’s designed her home to feel the same way. “I like people to come in and feel like the fabrics and textures are inviting. I don’t want them to tiptoe or worry they are going to break something.” Though positively catalog-worthy, Diane says her aesthetic still includes interesting “pops,” and her puppy clearly rules the roost.