Little Compton House

c. 1980
Renovation and Decoration, Completed in 2008
Garage and Mancave, New construction, Completed 2011
General Contractor for New Construction: Gilman, Guidelli & Bellow
General Contractor for Renovation: Fenton Construction

Before our client asked us to renovate the house that she and her husband bought in Little Compton, Rhode Island, we had already worked with her on half a dozen commercial projects for two different companies. We designed trade show booths, in-store shops, and exhibits. When she called us about her house, a couple of architects had already looked at it and with no hesitation said “tear it down”.

It’s true that the dowdy 80’s house sat on what is the most spectacular 2 acres imaginable—a square lot with a south facing water view, estuary in the foreground, barrier reef in the middle ground, and open ocean in the distant view. But it seemed to us that the footprint was salvageable. We knew that if we saved the existing structure, the result would be far quirkier than if we tore it down, but our clients were game.

Without adding on to the existing foundation (other than to shrink it a bit in order to conform to setback regulations) we maximized the view. We opened up the south face of the house with large windows and doors, added a roof deck that is accessible via spiral stair from the ground level, added a deck off the master bedroom, and a double height screened porch.

We painted the whole house—it was natural cedar—white. This was perhaps the single most effective way of transforming a haphazard house into an intentional one.