Erik & Maaike's Tranquil Country Cottage

It’s hard not to fall in love with the bucolic land along Aquidneck Island’s Eastern shore. Stone walls line winding roads covered by canopies of green. It’s the perfect place for a lazy Sunday afternoon joy ride along roads like Paradise Avenue or a hike through the Norman Bird Sanctuary woods to the top of Hanging Rock, which overlooks Sachuest Beach. It’s no surprise that Maaike, a photographer, and Erik, an avid surfer and mountain biker who works in the sailing industry, have always dreamed of building a life together here.

This dream began to unfold when the couple was living in Valencia, Spain. They spotted the property online while planning a move back to Rhode Island. “It was on a street we had always loved,” Maaike says with a smile. Tucked away at the end of a leafy driveway on an acre-and-a-half of land, the location offered a country setting just ten minutes outside of downtown Newport, where they had previously lived for five years.

While the location was ideal, the house itself was not. The 1980s contemporary style was a far cry from the country cottage of Maaike and Erik's dreams. "We had to have some serious vision," Maaike explains. The couple gutted the house down to the studs and opened it up without expanding the original footprint. They used wasted attic space to create vaulted ceilings with skylights, which flood the house with light. Dark wood paneling and cold floor tiles were replaced by clean white walls and hardwood. They added red cedar shingles to soften the exterior and allow the structure to blend in with the natural surroundings.

From the kitchen, there is a clear view into the living, dining, and family rooms, but each one still remains separate. The home manages to feel airy and open without sacrificing warmth.

Many of the wood furnishings that fill the house are inherited family heirlooms – a coffee table made from the floors of Erik’s grandfathers’ office in Paris and Maaike’s dresser that was her changing table when she was a baby. Sentimental artwork and items big and small were inherited from their grandparents in Sweden and Holland, and add to the comfortable, lived-in feeling of the home. New pieces, several of which are made from reclaimed wood, mix effortlessly with antiques and create an organic feeling that mirrors the lush surroundings. Naked windows offer a clear view of the outdoors in every room and add to the overall feeling of tranquility. The peaceful surroundings, after all, are what drew the couple here from the start.

Text and photos by Jacqueline Marque.

You can read more about Maaike and Erik's style and see the full Apartment Therapy house tour HERE.