When Pamela and Jim Balutis married in New York more than 30 years ago, the two honeymooned in the Ocean State. The experience made quite an impression. In more recent history, the two discussed where they would eventually like to retire, and they decided the beauty of South County, the friendliness of its people and its convenience to other charming cities and towns made it the perfect place to proverbially put up their feet and unwind.
Five years ago, the couple discovered a spacious home on Wickford Point, a coveted coastal community on a peninsula flanked by Mill Creek and Fishing Cove. “When we saw the house for the first time, we were so taken by the ocean view and the uncharacteristic floor plan that we knew at that moment we had a jewel we could renovate to our liking,” says Pamela. The good news was they were not in a rush. Both Jim and Pamela were living and working in Massachusetts and they also had a comfortable pied-a-terre in New York. So they took inventory of what they needed to do and created a comprehensive renovation plan that they could tackle step by step with a trusted contractor before they would settle there in post-retirement permanency. “We had to gut all four and a half baths, gut the kitchen, put in new floors, hire an architect, add a porch, put on a dormer, paint the house, put on a new roof, put copper on the roof where needed, paint the inside, refurbish floors, all new sliders, put in a stone wall, [redo] the driveway with granite… and with that comes plumbers, electricians, tile, glass companies, and the list goes on,” says Pamela.
The couple interviewed a trio of builders and was most impressed with David Tegan of Tegan & Company, a North Kingstown-based build and design firm, who has more than 15 years’ experience in the field. “We did run into revocation problems but [he] was able to take those challenges we had and remedy them,” she says. “If it wasn’t for him, and his expertise and knowledge, as some of what we have is high tech, it never would have come out so great.”
Over those five years, Jim and Pamela would drive down from Massachusetts to check in on the renovation’s progress and evaluate plans for the next steps. They knew their situation was a little different from many as they had a long term plan, and Tegan & Company would work on other projects in-between many of the Balutis home’s phases. Pamela says Dave’s easy going personality made the process an enjoyable one throughout. “He’s very conscientious,” she describes. “There were things that didn’t fit that he just made fit!” One of the things she’s referring to include, for example, is the over-sized glass panes for the upstairs master bath shower enclosure (from Kent County Glass in Coventry) that required scaffolding to be put up along their bedroom’s balcony get to get the glass inside.
When it came to the interior aesthetic, Pamela counted on family ties. “I’m fortunate enough to have a sister who is an interior decorator in Connecticut. She helped me with colors in the house and to update the bathroom, as well as helping to pick out materials for everything from custom bedspreads to curtains.” Pamela says hitting the road every weekend to see each project through become the norm, whether it was to Wickford Point to see the work first hand, to New York City to find unique pieces and materials (specifically to the well-known A & D Building, which is full of kitchen, bath and design showrooms that Pamela says is a place “where one can expand their views and ideas”), or to Warwick to find the perfect tile at the Kitchen & Bath Gallery at Supply New England.
“I was very particular about what I wanted,” concedes Pamela. That might be an understatement. Pamela says during this process, she was struck by lighting fixtures she saw in an editorial spread in Architectural Digest. The lights were placed over the kitchen sink and were exactly what she was looking for. She called the magazine but naturally, the staff would not release the contact information of the homeowner. But what they did offer Pamela, to reward her tenacity, was the contact information for the photographer who shot the spread. She phoned the photographer who needless to say shoots many homes for magazines, described the home and the lights and any other details she could muster hoping it would ring a bell. “By God, he did it. He located them, “she says. And though it took her a month to establish contact and get the information on the lights so she could have the same ones in North Kingston, Pamela is quite pleased with how the space, and the entire home, has turned out.
“We’re kind of homebodies anyway, so the house is important,” she explains. Though they adore the whole place, Pamela and Jim have a special affinity for the sunroom, or the “New York” room, as they casually call it, because many of the furnishings from their Big Apple apartment, which they have since bid adieu to, now reside there. “We are surrounded by windows, look out at the ocean, and the warmth of the sun coming in is so pleasing and relaxing.”
Five years, it seems, has been well worth the wait.