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Stylish, Functional Living in East Greenwich

A family created a welcoming space with a classic New England feel and an outdoor oasis

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More than seven years ago, Jen Cosgrove and her husband were looking to move from North Kingstown to East Greenwich. After scanning the local real estate offerings, the couple ultimately decided to have a home built according to their wants and needs. “I wanted a home that had a coastal feel to it with a unique architecture style,” says Jen. “Our builder worked with us to develop the blueprints for the house and I love the way it looks.” First impressions were important to the couple, so the Cosgroves ensured that the moment friends and family pulled into the driveway, they would feel, well, at home. “The house almost welcomes you to come right to the front door,” Jen explains.

Jen is an accomplished interior designer with an eponymously named firm, so it should come as no surprise that her home is meticulously laid out with useful and unique features. With many extended family members based out of town, she and her husband decided that the home would need five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. “I have a thing for bathrooms and we seem to have one everywhere you turn,” Jen admits. “Our daughter was also just being born as we moved into this house, so it was important that she had her own bathroom separate from the boys.” The couple’s two sons share a bathroom between their bedrooms, Jen and her husband have a bathroom in their master suite, there is a guest half-bath on the first floor, and there is a full bath in the basement. “And at the last minute, we decided to convert a closet in the mudroom into a bathroom,” Jen says. “I wanted the children to have a bathroom to use separate from the guest bath and one that they could access quickly from the yard.”

Jen describes the kitchen as “the hub” of the family home. “We do everything at our island and the windows allow us to see everything going on in the back,” she says. The living room is also a pivotal, high-traffic space. “It’s a hidden gem in the front of our house. It’s nice to have a small cozy space to retreat to when you want to be alone or when entertaining a small group of friends.” 

As the family got settled in the home, the spaces served them well; the Cosgroves’ fashionable, functional home could easily accommodate their growing family. But years later, they decided that, while the home was warm and inviting, the backyard space had room for improvement.

“I love the outdoors and felt like our current patio wasn’t servicing us well,” explains Jen. “I had a lot of different ideas, including the possibility of a three-season room. After meeting with our contractor, Erin Oden, we started playing around with a lot of different ideas.” A self-confessed “design nerd,” Jen worked closely with Erin to create a space that could serve all the various functions needed by a busy family that often entertained. The dynamic design duo devised a plan featuring a cabana that would include an intimate outdoor kitchen, dining space and fireplace where family and guests could sit, relax and unwind.

The challenge the Cosgroves faced, as any homeowners do when embarking on an addition or significant renovation, was to marry the existing home with the new features. “We wanted the new space to look like it was part of our home from the beginning,” explains Jen. “So Erin worked very hard to match our current architectural style.” The Cosgroves also wanted the new patio cabana to reflect its New England environs, which Erin executed by using materials common throughout the region, including bluestone.

Their diligent planning has paid off exponentially as the family has enjoyed quiet evenings around the fireplace and welcomed extended family and friends to enjoy the new space. A vegetable garden and fruit trees have been added to the landscape as well. “I love our yard, as it is very private,” says Jen. “Now that we have our new cabana, I love it even more.”

The old cobbler’s proverb (“The cobbler’s children have no shoes”) clearly doesn’t ring true in the Cosgrove home, and it’s clear that Jen’s interior design skills allowed her to stay true to the mission she maintains with each client: to create beautiful spaces that enhance the enjoyment and quality of life and reflect the client. Jen offers this advice to anyone considering working with an interior designer to renovate or refresh a space:

“Trust your instinct that things need to be updated. Feel confident in your ideas and seek the help of those you love to offer advice.”