Artistic Expression

North Kingstown's Janelle Feigley makes a grand old house into a colorful forever home


Inside the 1833 Colonial house built for Captain Vincent Gardiner in Wickford, don’t expect to see a ship’s wheel table or even navy and white stripes. Today the home is alive with color, drawing from the rich waterside palette of owner Janelle Feigley, a painter and owner of Gossip, a Boho-style clothing boutique on the village’s Main Street which also serves as her studio.

Feigley notes that in the past she always decorated with her mind on resale value, typically painting walls with neutral tones. However, this house was diferent. “We knew from day one that this was a ‘forever house’ for us, and so our color decisions were made based upon only us and our vision of a happy place. Our goal was never to reach perfection, but, rather, to make our house comfortable and inviting.”

While the couple may have painted certain accent walls and trim in bold shades of blue, they opted to keep existing plaster walls intact, enjoying the layers of history they imbue. “Our walls are not smooth and our floors are not even, but somehow it all works and encourages the tapping of additional nails to decorate the house with our art and the art of friends that we purchase.”

Describing the decor as “imperfectly perfect,” whatever furnishings come into the home are selected for the wear and tear of family life. “I would tell any first-time home buyer to invest in leather right away and it will be a forever couch,” says Feigley. Accents, however, are found objects from beach walks and vacations, antiquities with modern appeal, or personal works of art. Harkening tidying expert Marie Kondo, Feigley notes that “being an artist, things and accessories in the home do bring me joy and remind me of my travels and memories. I have a hard time purging items that align with fond memories.” To keep things organized on the quick, she relies on hooks and baskets for everything from toys to market totes.

“I am mindful and cherish historic preservation,” begins Feigley. “However, I have a keen eye for art and artifacts and making the two work in the same space and being respectful to the history of the home is often a challenge. If I really LOVE something, I find a place for it.” When asked to define her interior design aesthetic, Feigley smiles and says, “Our home has a true mix of old and new, with many modern updates and contemporary flairs to accent my style of art. If I had to make up a name for my decorator style, I’d say ‘abstracted-historic-modern influenced by a wanderlust spirit!"


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