Home Tour: Arcadia

A Colonial in rural Exeter is remodeled to reflect its homeowner’s love of the ocean


Sometimes even a house that’s the age of your typical college student can appear dated inside. This was the case for a three-bedroom, four-bath Colonial set on five acres in Arcadia, the rural village in Exeter. “My client's house was stuck in a ‘90s time warp,” explains Michelle Parenteau, the Johnston-based interior designer/artist tasked with bringing this home into the present. “It lacked color, comfort, and functionality,” she explains.

So, what makes a house that’s just reached drinking age appear stuck in the past? Things like glossy oak cabinetry and brass hardware are tell-tale signs of the era of Friends and Forrest Gump. To remedy this, on the main level Parenteau started by infusing color. Pearl-gray walls connecting living spaces were painted a watery blue-green in a nod to the homeowner’s love of the sea. In the kitchen, oak cabinets received coats of white paint and new hardware – one was even removed to make space for a pair of rustic floating shelves – a stand-out feature.

Out went the brass ceiling fans with their frosted floral glass shades and in came a series of more streamline switches, like the striking blue pendant that hangs over the kitchen pass-through window. Not one to be matchy-matchy, Parenteau employed a range of coordinating blue tones in accents like cobalt glass tile for the kitchen backsplash, and via art, tableware, linens, and furnishings in related hues to connect zones. Says Parenteau, “I help my clients embrace color and not to fear it.”

To resolve the comfort and functionality issues, the kitchen countertop was extended with enough room for two stools. In the living room, the beige fireplace got a face-lift with blue mosaic tile in a wavy pattern. To accommodate the homeowner’s live-in parents, the downstairs bathroom was completely gutted for their use. A large walk-in shower with seating was created with heated flooring and a double vanity, and an expansive niche was built into the back wall, also outfitted with floating shelves to keep bathing essentials at the ready.

Parenteau was also in charge of choosing new furniture and brought in a dining table “big enough for entertaining,” along with other pieces, adding, “new lighting was installed in every space of the house.”

The family, who recently moved into their refreshed abode after purchasing it in early 2022, are thrilled with the updates. “It’s upbeat and fun,” begins the homeowner. And what makes them happiest about their new home? “The colors and art, they are peaceful and homey.”


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