Making a Splash

One South County couple put down roots in the coastal community of Matunuck


Though Andrea and Dr. Jayson Spas tied the knot at Towers in Narragansett in 2008, the couple eschewed buying a home in the area right away and instead, remained focused on their respective graduate school studies. Jayson, who today is a clinical psychologist and professor with a private practice in Wakefield, and Andrea, an Assistant Director of Special Education in a local South County school district, nested in a small beach house in Scarborough until they reached their early career goals, collecting mental notes and small treasures for when they shared a place they could call their very own.

Just two years ago, the Spas decided it was the right time to explore the neighborhoods of coastal South County. As soon as they walked through a warm, sun-filled contemporary home in desirable South County Hills, they knew their patience had been rewarded. “When you walk through the front door, down the hall and through the sliding glass doors, you see the pond,” says Andrea. “We just knew.”

The couple’s dream home wish list included an open floor plan, spacious kitchen, a fireplace and a formal dining room large enough to accommodate their families for both special occasions and casual gatherings. But more than all of that, the Spas say the setting was the most critical element. “We have always wanted to live somewhere coastal, and Matunuck has such a community feel.” Though they knew they’d have to roll up their sleeves and work to make the home’s somewhat dated interior reflect their shared “casual coastal” aesthetic, the Spas had no doubt the house was “the one.”

“This is our first home - we both were in grad school for many years so we wanted to get the home of our dreams. We wanted to take our time and be ready for a home like this,” explains Andrea.

Soon after the closing, the couple tackled the kitchen: the unrivaled heart of the home. “We’re not afraid to get our hands dirty,” says Andrea, laughing. Though they kept the footprint intact, they replaced the appliances with upscale, modern stainless steel versions, added granite countertops, included interesting fixtures including a pot-filler style faucet, changed all of the lighting fixtures to glass mason-jar style pendants from Pottery Barn, and painted the cabinets and walls in hues that celebrate the nearby sea. Andrea then added pops of color for visual interest. “I love teal, so we included teal accents with the Kitchen Aid mixer and the bar stools,” she says.

“We basically put in a new kitchen,” says Jayson. He’s clear to point out, however, that while the previous style wasn’t in line with the couple’s taste, overall the home was in pristine condition. “It was in really good order but we updated it to make it our own. The former owners took great care of it and we’re really grateful they took such care of the house and property.”

The first-floor half-bath was also reinvented from top to bottom to reflect their penchant for a “coastal chic” aesthetic. “We redid the flooring with natural pebblestone, replaced the pedestal sink with the European-style overhang sink, added a really cool driftwood mirror and repainted the whole space in a soft blue,” describes Andrea.

When it came to sourcing furnishings, accessories and home décor accents, the couple shopped both locally and online. “Simple Pleasures in Charlestown is a go-to place for me. We love shopping at local businesses,” she says. Andrea’s other hot spots include Homegoods and Restoration Hardware in addition to popular home décor website, Joss and Main. Antique heirlooms are also a part of the décor. Andrea plans to reupholster a wingback chair that belonged to her great-grandmother Antoinette, who she is named after, in a whimsical coastal print. “[I’m] looking forward to reupholstering this chair and honoring prior generations,” she says. Andrea is also a fan of lovingly restoring and repurposing older pieces by hand, including a vintage curio she found at Consignments Ltd. in Wakefield. All of her design projects have spurred a new passion for her. “I love it,” Andrea acknowledges. “If I weren’t in my current position, I would love to do interior design.”

But as much as they have enjoyed making the inside of the home their own, the couple, along with their beloved Yorkshire Terrier, Baxter (who they admit, rules the house), relish their outdoor space the most. With the property bordering the pond, the Spas had a landscape architect design a plan that maximized the water views, creating a welcoming outdoor space where they could relax and entertain. Warm evenings invite dinner under the stars and weekends are a time to unwind surrounded by nature. “We have blue heron, egrets and red-winged blackbirds that call this home, as well. Every spring the bullfrogs in the pond remind us that summer is around the corner,” says Andrea.