A cottage with breathing room

A little addition goes a long way toward making a comfortable home.

By Jenna Pelletier
February 28, 2010

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The 1920s summer cottage in pastoral Little Compton, Rhode Island, was an unlikely bachelor pad, but it suited ceramist Charlie Barmonde . . . until his new wife moved in. After discovering that no amount of cleaning or redecorating was going to open up the dark, cramped space, the couple hired Stack Design Build, based in Pawtucket, to oversee an overhaul that would ready the home for married life and, eventually, kids.

A new kitchen and dining area -- a 525-square-foot addition to what was an 1,800-square-foot structure -- is now the focal point of the home. Barmonde and his wife, Aiden FitzGerald, an MFA student at Emerson College in Boston, frequently entertain and wanted to create a space where guests could feel comfortable “putting a glass down without a coaster,” says Barmonde. He explains that a little wear and tear will only add character to the bluestone and beechwood countertops.

On the second floor, Stack principal Andrew Keating improved an illogical layout by reconfiguring bedrooms and adding a hallway; a new dormer created the space necessary to transform a guest bedroom into two rooms intended for kids. Down the hall, the bathroom in the master suite showcases Barmonde’s work, including hand-painted tiles and a pair of sturdy vessel sinks that were designed to be “something I can drop a can of shaving cream in without feeling like they’re going to break.”

Improving energy efficiency was a top priority. Upgrades included an ultra-efficient boiler, spray foam insulation, and a sunroom to help regulate the interior temperature.

And there’s still work to be done. Barmonde plans to tile the bare bluestone hearth, and the couple will eventually install more windows and cabinets. The addition’s unconventionally sized windows (some extra wide, others super narrow) impart a modern feel to the back of the house while, in keeping with the town’s conservative aesthetic, the front is rather traditional. Collectively, the windows offer unobstructed views of rolling hills and their next-door neighbor’s grazing cows. “We live in such a beautiful place, and now we can actually see it from inside the house,” says FitzGerald.

Jenna Pelletier is a writer in Providence. Send comments to

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