It’s hard to believe that Amy and Rob MacMillan’s utterly charming home, set back behind a stone wall along Newport’s scenic ten-mile drive, started out as a building with a completely utilitarian purpose. The house was originally a greenhouse for Bonniecrest mansion, and the grounds were used as farmland for the sprawling 1914 estate built on the shores of Brenton Cove. Converted into a home in the 1950’s, this repurposed space has many unique characteristics that are equally as charming as they are challenging.
There's nothing cookie-cutter about a converted greenhouse; changes often require custom designs and clever craftsmanship. With a love for the quirkiness of their non-conventional home and an eye for interesting design, Amy, a freelance color consultant for residential and commercial spaces, and Rob, a sailmaker who owns two sail lofts and races sailboats professionally, have kept the building’s original purpose in mind as they’ve updated their home throughout the years.
The first thing you notice as you enter the house is a long, light-filled hall with French doors on either end. A day bed looks right at home in this corridor that feels like a sun porch worthy of afternoon tea with a friend. Blue and white Flor tiles, pieced together as a runner, add a pop of color and a graphic element that draws the eye forward and accentuates the unusual shape of the room.
The kitchen, which retains the original a-frame roofline and floor-to-ceiling windows, is the most obvious reminder of the home’s origins. Custom-designed cabinets mirror a wall of glass, which floods the room with natural light, a precious resource during New England’s long winters. A copper-capped windowsill provides a perfect place for potted plants to thrive year-round. A table made from old bowling alley flooring is one of many examples of the MacMillans' love of repurposing materials. Open storage throughout the room, including a space for shoes underneath the banquette seating, makes the most of the room’s sharp angles.
The house is filled with an eclectic mix of new and old, consignment shop pieces, hand-me-downs from family, and trash-to-treasure finds. The comfortable kid-friendly environment is filled with personal photographs, artwork, and plenty of space for Tatum and Mo to play. A hand-painted growth chart – with names, dates and ages of family and friends – and a chalk paint corner between the playroom and kitchen are a testament to this home’s easy, laid-back vibe. “I don’t mind drawing on the walls... from the tallest of friends to newborn babies, we tend to measure most everyone who comes around," Amy explains. “Living in a quirky house with so much character and history is really special,” she says. “It’s fun to see it evolve and grow with us throughout the years.”
Text and photos by Jacqueline Marque
You can read more about Amy and Rob's style and see their full Apartment Therapy House Tour HERE.