Kristen Coates loves to have a home full of guests. She and partner Chris Wyllie, both artists who divide their time between New York and Rhode Island, had entertaining in mind when they moved into their spacious third-floor apartment in the heart of Newport above their gallery Egg + Dart. They imagined their home as an artists’ retreat for themselves and their friends, some of whom show work in their Manhattan art gallery Coates Wyllie.
The airy, light-filled space is the perfect place for an artist to unwind. A ten-foot square window that overlooks Bellevue Avenue is the first thing you notice as you enter the drawing room. There is art — big and small, in books and on ledges — nearly everywhere you turn. The high ceilings and ample wall space keep the apartment from feeling cluttered and make it possible to display large artwork, including several of Chris’ figurative and narrative subjects painted on vintage doors. Kristen, best known for her creative fashion collections and full-sized teepees, adds warmth to the space with simple designs like a bundle of sticks with brightly painted edges and a hand-dyed tablecloth draped over the dining room table, a Coates family heirloom.
The couple has a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to hosting. They enjoy putting out a beautiful spread of food and wine and insist that friends come and go at will, help themselves to anything in the fridge and, most importantly, relax and feel at home. “It’s like summer camp, but better, because there are no rules,” says Wyllie.
In order to have room for more visitors, they recently took over a second floor apartment in their building. They also own a renovated houseboat they use as a creative outlet and a place for entertaining. “Newport is a special place and our home is very open and comfortable,” explains Coates. “Friends come for a day or two and end up staying a week or longer once here. We have the gallery and the garden and the boat in addition to the apartment itself, and inspiration springs from all places.”
And it’s hard to not feel inspired by Chris and Kristen themselves; the perfectly suited pair has mastered the art of living well. To the benefit of those who surround them, they thrive on sharing the wealth.
You can see a full tour of Chris & Kristen's apartment on Apartment Therapy.
Photos and text by Jacqueline Marque.