This South County House

Seaside style meets innovative design for a masterpiece in East Matunuck


Jeff Sweenor is used to making people’s dreams come true. The owner of Sweenor Builders has been creating custom homes throughout Rhode Island for nearly 30 years. But when This Old House selected his South County-based business to build their prestigious 2017 Idea House in East Matunuck, it was his turn to live out a dream. “It was thrilling to work with the This Old House team to build a unique home that celebrates the best of coastal living,” says Sweenor.

This Old House, the famed television program and magazine, began the Idea House series in 2015. Built from the ground up, the Idea House is a high concept home that integrates traditional and regional design-build elements with modern day sensibilities. The first Idea House in Rhode Island, last year’s eight month long Beach House project, was a creative collaboration between Wakefield-based Sweenor Builders, Providence-based Union Studio Architecture & Community Design, Connecticut-based Denise Enright Interior Design, and several This Old House sponsors and contributors.

The details throughout the Idea House are nothing short of breaktaking. The Shingle style house, a quintessential New England design that dates back to the 19th century, features traditional elements like wood shingle siding, a gambrel roof, curved walls, and a massive wrap-around porch.

The beach house theme seamlessly blends an easy living layout with an elegant aesthetic, and classic architecture with ultra modern elements. With a focus on aging in place and accommodating multi-generational families – two of the most desireable design-build trends – the entire house offers meticulous details at every corner.

The first floor features a gourmet kitchen complete with a wet bar and a center island, and beautifully flows into the gorgeous living room. The open-floor plan, created for both everyday comfort and entertaining, offers easy access throughout both areas. Vaulted ceilings, built-in cabinets, and the creative use of wall coverings offer each room its own sense of place and function. The spacious master bedroom and bathroom are also found on the first floor.

Two additional bedrooms are on the second floor, a thoughtful open-aired space with a separate laundry that offers privacy and luxe comfort. The whimsical third floor, the aptly called bunk room, features built-in beds that are ideal for younger visitors.

Unique and custom details can be found throughout the 3,200 square foot home: a bonus room built over the garage and designed as a game room; a mudroom with a dog-washing station that can double as a utility sink; a backyard deck off the kitchen that leads to a patio with a built-in fire pit; an outdoor shower; and a show-stopping mutl-season room with a stunning gas fireplace. The entire house is also a modern model for smart living: wireless lighting, individual room temperature, and alarm systems are controlled wirelessly via mobile apps.

In taking this build from concept to completion, Sweenor Builders has created the ultimate South County dream home, combining the latest trends with classic New England style. Inspiration can be fleeting, but the lucky owners that now call this house home are sure to find it in every room.

This Old House recently announced the next collaboration with Sweenor Builders: the 2018 Idea House, a Narragansett build less than a mile from the beach. “Our firm is deeply vested in creating vibrant village neighborhoods in South County,” says Sweenor. “These collaborations with This Old House are truly special projects for us and our communities.”