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Sleepless in Seattle (So Move to East Greenwich)

A West Coast couple falls in love with an EG home with plenty of potential


Moving can be a daunting undertaking for any family. Exploring new neighborhoods, comparing school systems, considering work commutes – these were just some of the things the Jenkins family had to ponder when uprooting from Seattle, WA to Rhode Island four years ago. “Wanting to get the ‘lay of the land’ before purchasing a home in our new town, we decided renting a home for the first year would be the best way to approach this cross country move,” explains Kim Jenkins. Throughout the year, she and husband Rik Jenkins embarked on a home search, but nothing felt quite right until they walked through the door of a delightfully flawed, three-bedroom, two bath, one-level ranch-style home in East Greenwich built in 1961.

“As soon as we walked into this home we knew that even though it wasn’t perfect yet, it could be,” recalls Kim. “The living spaces were open and a wide expanse of floor to ceiling win- dows framed the entry to the back yard. It had one major flaw though: It was one bedroom short.”

It was important to the Jenkinses that each of their three young children had their own room. But what the home lacked in bedrooms it made up for in possibility. “The thing that sealed the deal, believe it or not, was the large, unfinished attic space that stretched the length of the home. We saw an empty space that could become that fourth bedroom, and then some. We fell in love with the potential. Kim, a real estate investor and interior designer who launched her own company, Jenkins Designworks, and Rik who often works from home, imagined a combination master bedroom, en suite bath and an office area that would become their sacred space. They also had help from the builder on the project, Rouben Balagia from BuildPROS, a general contractor out of Providence.

“In that dusty attic space we could envision a beautiful master suite where we could, literally, be above the fray. We love our ener- getic, busy, sometimes rambunctious, always loud family of five, but having a serene place to lay your head at the end of the day was important to us.”

Ideas and imagination are a great start, but there was also a budget to consider. The biggest challenge when planning the renovation, explains Kim, was how to layout the suite so it would best maximize the existing space while preventing the need to rip the roof off completely, which would be a complete budget buster. Ultimately they accomplished this with the addition of two 12-foot wide dormers, which satisfied the spatial needs for the master bedroom and office as well as two additional seating areas. A fully enclosed central staircase gave the couple the ability to put a walk-in closet and a water closet behind its full walls in an otherwise completely open plan.

The Jenkinses describe their esthetic as warm and modern. To reflect that medium, the couple used a warm white hue throughout the space to keep the open area cohesive and light. To create texture and highlight beloved artwork, they hung rich blue grasscloth wallpaper behind the bed and reclaimed 100-year-old doors. “The reclaimed doors were one of our favorite projects,” says Kim. “We found them at a salvage yard and were told they were taken from a building in downtown Providence that had been demolished,” adds Kim.

The couple refinished them by hand, had them joined together and mounted the piece on a barn door track to create a visually intriguing office door for Rik. “We also chose to do all the trim in the space darker than the wall color,” says Kim. “It’s a light grey that’s a bit less expected then the typical white trim and ties in nicely with the greys in the tile of the open bathroom.”

The bathroom continues the color scheme with the large open shower boasting contemporary white and grey tile. The vanity was made from a locally milled piece of walnut that the Jenkins refinished themselves with marine grade varnish. The soothing hues are juxtaposed by a red vintage rug that adds a pop of color in an otherwise calming space. “It is something my mother brought back from a trip to Turkey 25 years ago and in using it in an unexpected way, it feels thoroughly modern,” explains Kim.

Kim and Rik filled the suite, which embodies an open design plan that maintains open sight lines without compromising privacy, with both vintage and new furnishings and creative lighting. Kim sourced local consignment and antique stores for unique treasures. “RE in North Kingstown has a wonderful selection of vintage furnishings and occasionally you can stumble onto a real bargain, like the leather lounger in my reading nook,” she says. She also shops at retailers including Target and HomeGoods for home basics and affordable accessories. “And National Wrecking in Pawtucket is a wonderful source for architectural salvage – but wear jeans and bring a flashlight because you will have to do some digging!”

As principal of Jenkins Designworks, Kim helps clients through what can be an intimidating, frustrating but ultimately rewarding renovation ex- perience. She advises clients to set a budget and plan on at least 10% for overages. “It happens every time and if you know that the unexpected will happen, you can take it in stride,” she says. Another tidbit: Don’t let budget stand in your way. “With creative thinking, unexpected sourcing and sometimes a little elbow grease, very affordable materials can look like a million bucks!”

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