Written in chalk above the bathroom door are the words, “Artistry + Function + Simplicity = This Home.” It’s a fitting mission statement for Jill and Dan Ritacco’s small Rhode Island cape, which was gutted and revitalized by the couple themselves. From the drywall to the furnishings, Dan and Jill have built most of what you see in their 1200-square-foot home. Jill, an artist who studied printmaking and painting, and Dan, a wooden boat builder, aptly call their personal style “we can make anything.”
When the couple was house hunting three years ago, their priority was to live in a good school district, but their budget was tight. “We felt that we could make any house our own, so the architecture was not all that important. This house simply met our price and location needs,” says Jill. While it was hard for most people to see past the dilapidated kitchen, knotty pine wall panels, and blue shag carpet, Jill and Dan were thrilled to find that it had a good roof, septic system, siding and insulation. “This allowed us to make it our own because the inside needed some serious TLC,” Jill explains.
One of the first things you see when you enter the house is an illuminated handmade sign that reads “Make Taccos.” Leftover from Dan’s 30th birthday party, which featured a taco bar, and a play on their last name, the sign sets the tone for the humor and artistry you will find throughout this happy abode. Painted jellyfish swim up hallway walls, polka dots decorate Taavi’s tiny bedroom nook, and a mural covers the entire kitchen ceiling.
With a can-do attitude and plenty of talent between the two of them, Dan and Jill have tackled the making of their home with a true DIY spirit and a whole lot of lighthearted fun. The house is filled with homemade furniture: bed frames, a kitchen table with bench seating, an island with a bicycle wheel holding pots and pans underneath. Thanks to Dan’s clever use of built-in storage and space-saving solutions throughout the house – a skill honed through years of building wooden boats – everything is tucked away neatly on shelves and carved into nooks and crannies. And it helps that they also try to live simply: “We are always trying to live with less. The house looks cleaner that way. We are not big fans of spending time cleaning,” Jill explains, “We like to play instead!” In the Ritacco home, artistry + function + simplicity = happiness.
Photos and text by Jacqueline Marque.
You can read more about Dan and Jill's style and see their full Apartment Therapy House Tour HERE.