Home Tour: Watch Hill

A mansion gets an all-American coastal upgrade

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Imagine you’re celebrating New Year’s Eve at your home when a frozen pipe bursts! This was the case for a Watch Hill family made up of a husband and wife with two grown daughters, one son, three grandchildren, and more on the way. The damage was so severe the entire house needed to be gutted. 

“When the house was destroyed by water, I thought, ‘why not rethink the architecture of the spaces to create better flow and larger areas for their growing family?’ So we did,” says Kellie Burke, an interior designer based in West Hartford, CT, who was hired to completely renovate the four-bedroom 5,000-square-foot home, situated within walking distance to the beach and village.

“The husband had worked on a naval Coast Guard ship off of Nantucket in his younger days and the wife is passionate about the preservation of her hometown of Watch Hill,” says Burke. Her aim: create a coastal design that was cheerful and practical with a comfortable flow for an expanding family. Most importantly, Burke wanted it to reflect the owners of the home. The end result is a yacht-inspired feel with nods of classic New England preppy. 

The floor plan was modified to accommodate a larger open-style entertaining space. Structural changes included finishing off the unused garage space to house lockers, a cabana shower, and a mudroom area where all of the kids and dogs could drop into after spending the day at the beach. The kitchen now boasts an expansive open plan that includes a service bar and three sinks, allowing the family to better pursue their passion for cooking. 

When it came time to decorate, Burke prescribed a mix of antique and modern coastal. Think ship lighting and portholes, and teak and holly floors. “In this particular home, the client wanted a true coastal design using the nautical colors of the yacht club community, as well as the soothing, calm colors of the ocean,” says Burke.

“Decorating for the environment is key,” advises the award-winning designer. “You want to transform the way you feel in a space based on the climate, as well as your daily routine. In this particular town, we wanted to have a welcoming vibe that is suitable for entertaining while also being spacious enough for such a big family. You are always having guests come in and out. Now everyone has a space to relax!” 

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