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Maritime Magic

A land-based home in Charlestown still feels like seaside New England

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The spoils of Rhode Island can sometimes be overlooked by people less familiar with the Ocean State, but once they uncover our hidden coastal gems, they never look back. Such was the case for two New York City natives who raised their children in Western Massachusetts. “When I was growing up, I always went to Nantucket with my family,” says the homeowner. So when the couple decided to pursue a second home, Nantucket is where they started, expanding their search to Martha’s Vineyard. What they found was a number of delightful homes – and sticker shock. They decided to extend their search to coastal Connecticut, but still couldn’t find “the one.”

It wasn’t until the couple’s daughter visited a friend in Quonochontaug (better known as “Quonnie”) that Rhode Island landed on their radar. Originally the couple was looking for a home on the water, but they found themselves intrigued by a home that was a smidge further inland – yet still captured the essence of seaside living. “Our realtor showed us this place in Charlestown and we just fell in love with it,” says the homeowner.

The shingle-style home was built in the early 2000s and evokes a traditional feel with a modern touch. The first floor boasts an open floor plan, where the kitchen, dining room, and living room blend seamlessly together. “It’s sort of an unusual house,” says the homeowner. “It doesn’t really speak to Charlestown; seems more like Watch Hill or Westerly.” It’s easy to determine why: the home was designed by Westerly-based Arnold Design Group, which has drafted more than 800 residential projects through the years, with many in Watch Hill, Westerly, and Quonnie. Even their builder, Pete Peloquin, was based out of Westerly. “[The home] looks like it’s facing sideways on the lot. It’s sort of funny,” says the homeowner.

The house has many highlights, including spacious bedrooms, walls of windows that let natural light pour in, and ample space on the second floor landing, which can be used for a temporary bed set-up (“It’s like camp!” says the homeowner). But the couple knew the house was a perfect fit when they laid eyes on one rare feature – the built-in bookshelves. “There are these nautical maps that line the bookcases and I just fell in love with it,” says the homeowner. “You can see Block Island, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and all the islands we have visited in the past.”

The home was turnkey and the couple changed very little, but the surrounding property was another matter. “We totally reclaimed the land,” says the homeowner. “The garden was just weeds. The bushes and trees were full of invasive species. It was pretty much a disaster… you could barely see the front door.” The driveway was actually a well-designed circular drive that was “so overgrown you could barely use it.” The couple worked hard with a crew to remove all the weeds and low brush, transforming the entry and landscape into a peaceful welcoming space.

“Now it’s very peaceful,” says the homeowner, and those vibes continue as you enter the house into the “Zen room,” a quiet and tranquil space that echoes the purpose of this entire home – to relax and unwind. “This is a great retreat for us,” says the couple, who welcome family to the home throughout the year. Even their dog, an Irish Setter/Golden Retriever pup, seems decidedly mellow in this special home near the sea.

The couple says whenever they walk through the door, a sense of calm washes over. “We immediately relax and breathe in the fresh air… You definitely have different air here, sea air, and we’re not far from Ninigret Pond. Even the light is different.” It seems the maps led them to the right place after all.