Simply Transformed

A once-dark cottage is treated to a contemporary makeover


When Dave and Beth Mercier were looking for a beach house to enjoy with their grown sons Rob and Joe and their friends, they wanted it to have a dock and they didn’t want it to be too far from their Connecticut base. A search lead the family to South Kingstown and a place not only with a dock, but an outdoor shower and beach access. Perfect, right? Except that the property was in desperate need of repair.

The small, seasonal dwelling had dark paneling, dated appliances, and zero insulation or storage space. “We actually brought friends to go look at it and their reaction was ‘ugh!’ But Dave could see what it could be and he understood the value of the dock, the shower, the beach pass,” says Beth. To help make this vision into a reality, the couple turned to Blakely Interior Design out of North Kingstown, a trusted firm they’d used before.

“When Dave called us to come take a look at it, we saw the same vision he did. It had good bones, despite being an… well, eye sore,” says Janelle Blakely Photopoulos, owner and principal designer. Photopoulos and her team got busy planning and executing a design that would be “updated and fresh, and could sleep as many people as possible, for lots of summer memories for the
Merciers and their friends.”

“The place was gutted,” says Beth. “As gutted as you could get,” Photopoulos affirms. Structural changes included relocating the side door and widening the kitchen to create more storage and maximize functionality. Once dark and closed in, the design team aimed for the opposite: “A light, bright, and airy space that felt welcoming” says Photopoulos.

Walls, shiplap paneling, and tile in pure white were prescribed to maintain an airy flow in the 750-square-foot property. The use of natural fibers such as open weave light fixtures, baskets, and shades contribute to the breezy coastal vibe, as do jaunty elements like natural textiles, lively wallpaper, and stripes. Washable slipcovers and pillows abound, adding easy-care comfort and color.

“We don’t want to worry about being too careful about fancy furniture. We entertain just about every weekend and have lots of guests. For a tiny cottage – the place can now sleep 12 comfortably,” begins Beth. “It’s only one-and-a-half hours from our home in Connecticut, so it’s easy to get here, but every weekend feels like we are on vacation far away.”

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