2023 Master Design Awards: Historic Renovation — BRONZE

by Emily Blackburn

Davitt Design Build

West Kingston, RI

Project Cost: $2,895,000

The goal of this project was to revitalize the home to showcase the 1887 historical exterior façade and merge a modern interior conducive for entertaining and family gatherings after a day at the beach. Special attention was given to preserve the architectural elements unique to the period in which the home was built. Over the years there were minor renovations to the property, but major renovations were necessary to address the degrading structural integrity of the house and to bring the home into conformance with today’s building codes.

The most significant challenge was addressing the substandard foundation. The home was built on dirt and brick pilings which did not extend below the frost line. Over the course of one hundred years, these pilings settled unevenly due to natural freeze and thaw cycles in New England winters. The first floor system and original hard wood floors were bowed with high and low spots. The remainder of the first floor was comprised of separate kitchen, dining, and living rooms, leaving an outdated interior of closed off spaces. A new foundation was the solution to the deteriorating structure, but the home is located in the Narragansett Historical District and could not be torn down. The team devised a plan to gut the interior of the house, lift the house off its old pilings, move the house to allow room to dig a foundation, install a proper foundation, and move the house back on its new foundation, leveling out the structure in the process. Once the house was secure on its new foundation, the team were meticulous about crafting a home that appealed to everyday luxury living.

The renovation of Seafield Cottage focused on preserving the historical exterior of the home. All new exterior siding, trim, and roofing were installed, and new Andersen casement windows replaced the old counterbalance windows to match the look of the original two-over-two style windows. During demolition, the three original brick chimneys, which were the structural center of the 1887 home, were removed to allow for modern structural framing for open living spaces to be created. However, the three brick chimneys were replicated to preserve the original look of the roofline. The porch overlooking the expansive yard was also replicated with mahogany decking and bead board ceilings. The original columns supporting the porch roof overhang were salvaged during the demolition and were reinstalled and simply sanded and repainted. Inside the house, the stunning two-toned kitchen features luxury cabinetry, sleek white quartzite countertops, and a striking tile backsplash. The stairs were reconfigured in the main entrance way to allow for a grand light-filled two-story foyer. The primary bedroom was relocated to the first floor with a classic soaking tub as the centerpiece to the ensuite bathroom. A two-car garage was added to the rear of the house with additional bonus living space for a recreation room. The clients were delighted with the results of their newly renovated home, which stays true to the era in which it was originally built.

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