Friday, July 10, 2020 / by Erik Bjorklund
The project started with a lucky meeting between homeowners and an architect
Everyone who had a part in the construction of this Rhode Island home laughs about how it came to be. Anne and Brian Trinique had already put in offers on three homes when their realtor urged them to take a look at a plot of land that had just come on the market. “I was hesitant because originally I didn’t want to build,” Anne remembers. “But we went out there to see it anyway.”
The land was in Jamestown, a historic town of about 5,000 residents that’s just over a bridge from the more famous seaside getaway of Newport. The Triniques grew up in Rhode Island, and after years of shuffling their kids from their home in Brookline, Massachusetts, to grandma’s house in the summer and then to rentals when they needed more space, they saved enough to buy their own vacation home. Jamestown was the perfect location for its proximity to their family, but the land didn’t make it easy to see potential.
“It was completely wooded,” Anne says. “There was no way to walk through it.”
That’s when Brian remembered a conversation he had with a local architect, Ron DiMauro. Brian had cold-called DiMauro after coming across his work during their house hunt, with the thought that DiMauro could renovate a home for the family. While looking at the expanse of vines and trees in Jamestown, Brian asked the realtor if it could be an opportunity to hire DiMauro to build a house. The realtor said yes just as DiMauro drove by in his distinctive blue vintage pickup truck.
They waved him down, he stopped his car, and by the time the conversation was over, plans were coming together for Anne and Brian’s new home. “When I think back on it, it was such a big day in our family’s lives to run into Ron like that,” Brian says.
Two days after the fateful meeting, DiMauro and senior project architect Tyler Zagryn presented the couple with a rough outline for a 2,000-square-foot modern farmhouse. “With our budget, we couldn’t do something huge, but we didn’t want a big home to begin with,” Anne says. “Brian and I both work full time, and so much of what we wanted was to have somewhere to reconnect with our kids and the rest of our family.” The project began in January 2017.
The couple worked with DiMauro and Zagryn to create a thoughtful floor plan, where a small entryway would open to common areas and lead to a private master suite alongside the backyard. Upstairs, their son and daughter could have sleepovers in a four-person bunk room, while another guest space would welcome any adults who needed an easier way to climb into bed. They designated spots for pure practicalities—like a pantry and laundry room off the kitchen and a TV room off the master—so that the eating and living areas could remain dedicated to fun and conversation. And if their kids needed time away from mom and dad, they could hang out in a “tree house” loft inside the detached garage.
“Sometimes when clients share inspiration photos for what they’d like in a home, the first one doesn’t really relate to the last one,” Zagryn says. “But with Anne and Brian, they had a consistent theme and knew exactly what they wanted.”
Anne had chosen a palette that acknowledged the home’s half-mile proximity to the beach without being overly nautical. She imagined “something that would appeal to the idea of what summer and relaxation is supposed to be” and planned it all down to the sconces. As impressed as Zagryn was with Anne and Brian’s preparation, which kept construction on schedule, he saw their vision as more of a friendly collaboration than following orders.
“When you design a family’s home, you get to know them on a deep level,” Zagryn says. “I related to Anne and Brian because of our ages and our kids, but also because they wanted a house I could see myself in: a smaller-scale home where every square inch is used properly. We pulled that off together.”
Anne and Brian asked for a crisp white exterior, and Zagryn’s team accentuated it with board and batten as a subtle nod to the area’s shipyards. They picked out “Driftwood” gray European oak floors to offset the white poplar walls within. The navy-blue kitchen and master bath were contrasts that Zagryn had to see for himself, just as Anne and Brian had to trust his judgment on a roof made of Alaska-yellow-cedar shingles. Anne collected pins from Schoolhouse Electric, Amber Interiors, and Studio McGee to finish things up—the interior design, Zagryn notes, was all her.
“One of the biggest successes of this home is that the interior feels modern but cozy at the same time,” he says.
It took all of eight months to finish the build, so serendipity and speed weaved from the beginning of this project to the end. Anne and Brian have made a routine out of bringing their kids here for summer vacations, and they’ve gathered family together for Thanksgiving and Christmas too. When they come over the bridge to Jamestown, Anne says, they can exhale.
“When we’re here, it’s like we can just relax and be a family,” she adds.
Kelly Dawson is a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.