There’s something about New England that’s hard to shake. Suzanne Gagnon, MD, FACP and Steve Zimniski, PhD – from Fall River, Massachusetts and Biddeford, Maine, respectively – met at Boston University School of Medicine, married, and raised their family in Pennsylvania. However, as retirement approached, they knew they wanted to return to their rocky shoreline origins and set their sights on Jamestown.
“We looked at VRBO to rent for the summer and found an awesome place at the north end of the island,” Gagnon begins. That Jamestown stay triggered a search for something more permanent. After a year, the pair found themselves taken with a listing for a Cape Cod-style home built in 1951, expanded over the decades into its current four-bedroom state with three full baths, cathedral ceilings, hardwood floors, a master bedroom with jacuzzi tub, and views of the Newport Bridge from almost every room. Gagnon recalls the property having three offers after only being on the market for a few days.
“We also wanted a wood-burning fireplace and a first-floor master, but when we saw this house, they went out the window. We get sunrise on the front deck with morning coffee, spectacular views of the bay, and the best neighbors you can imagine. It's Mayberry, five minutes from Newport,” says Gagnon. “I remember we were back in PA at a college football game when we got a call from the realtor saying ‘you got the house!’”
The couple’s home near Philadelphia had been decorated in a Tuscan style throughout, with rusts, golds, and brown hues, which Gagnon says she loved but just didn’t fit the new house that came complete with a private deeded beach and easy access to a mooring. “Moving back to the coast of New England required a complete style rethink,” says Gagnon. “Fortunately the prior owners had great taste and left some of their furniture behind, giving us time to adapt the house to our own personalities. They left paintings on the walls of Beavertail and Narragansett Avenue by local artists.”
When she was ready to put her own imprint on the home, Gagnon found inspiration from her location and also an interior design book titled Coastal Blues: Mrs. Howard’s Guide to Decorating with the Colors of the Sea and Sky by Phoebe Wall Howard. Today she describes her new-found aesthetic as coastal or Hamptons chic, “or a newer term like coastal grandmillennial!” Looking around, she says, “It goes perfectly with the ocean view. I love the colors and the freshness and the casualness and the comfort. It says ‘be happy here.’”
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