e love living in ‘the sticks’,” says Ken Michin. He’s referring to West Greenwich, where he, wife Diana Rupert, and their dog have made their home in a Colonial for a few years now. “Our first house together was great and had a ton of room, but no land or privacy. We entertain a lot and we like our space so we wanted to move to the sticks.”
Bordered by Coventry, East Greenwich, Exeter, and Connecticut, the rural town spreads across 51 square miles and nearly half of the land is conserved. Of course, this is still Rhode Island, so nothing is that far away. “We still have the ability to drive 25 minutes to our boat in Warwick,” says Michin.
In addition to the solitude of the property, which sits on six acres, what attracted the couple to the house was the farmer’s porch and an oversized great room. “We love to entertain,” the pair says in unison. To that end, the kitchen needed some updating to make it more functional, with enough room for them to cook together without knocking elbows. To help remedy this issue, they called Michelle Parenteau of Michelle Lee Designs, an interior designer based in Johnston, known for her use of color and pattern, and mix of form and function.
“The kitchen was dated,” says Parenteau. “The 12x12 tan tile needed to go.” Based on conversations with the couple, she presented a plan of structural changes and updates. The homeowners wanted to be reminded of the ocean, which informed a colorway of grays and blues, and sparkling accents like materials resembling beach glass. “They also expressed how much they like to entertain, so I designed an island big enough to do that,” says Parenteau, who took out a wall to open up the dining room and kitchen.
The existing cabinets were in good condition so rather than replace, Parenteau had them refurbished in a soft white to coordinate with the new navy island. “We also added a coffee/tea bar and floating shelves, which created more space. Chevron glass tile was added – but running horizontal instead of vertical – for interest.”
Nearby, Parenteau also turned what she calls a “non-functional coat closet” into a mudroom. With its doors removed and palette connecting to the kitchen, it is now a much-used space thanks to nooks, hooks, and a bench.
“Our style is a very warm and welcoming one,” says Rupert. Michin agrees, and adds, “This is something we always wanted. Room outside to entertain without worrying about the neighbors. Our entire family feels right at home.”
Ideas and resources for making the most of living in the Ocean State
Ken Michin and Diana Rupert wanted some nods to the sea, achieved by wood plank tile in a driftwood color, a custom island in navy blue, and other touches that infused a coastal vibe.
The couple cites Big River Spirits, Coventry Lumber, Little Country Pizza, and The Middle of Nowhere Diner as nearby faves.
Parenteau has a solid rep for using local talent. Here are some of the vendors used for this project: all painting by John Camara, EastCoast Countertops, Greenwood Construction LLC, Lighting & Design by J&K Electric, Rhode Island Design Center, Rhode Island Tile, Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, and Supply New England. Says Parenteau, “I strive to use the best quality of materials. I listen to my client’s needs and wants and try to bring that vision to life.” Learn more at MichelleLeeDesigns.com
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