You don’t even have to enter Vanessa’s home to know that it’s not your typical seaside cottage. Unique bullseye glass details embellish bright green doors and custom-designed bamboo fencing. A horse made of rusty metal tools grazes on the front lawn. The tidy gardens, framed by a single stone arch and a curved brick pathway, are peppered with whimsical planters and sculptures. Impeccable craftsmanship, attention to detail and a fun-loving owner who doesn’t restrict herself to a singular style make this small cedar-shingled house shine.
When Vanessa, a real estate developer and designer who owns an equestrian center in rural Rhode Island, purchased the home in 1999, she was enchanted by the privacy and tranquility of the oceanside property. She capitalized on the stunning location with all new landscaping and the addition of outdoor entertaining areas, including a deck with a full-sized dining table, a gazebo with a stone fire pit, and a private dock.
The house itself was nothing special, but Vanessa saw it as an opportunity to design everything exactly the way she wanted it. She gutted it down to the studs and looked to magazines and her world travels for inspiration. “You go to these places and see things you’ve never seen before. Travel was my education in design,” she explains. Some decisions were based on the love of an object; bright blue granite became the starting point for her kitchen. Others were more practical and forward-thinking; pickled grey floors were chosen to hide the dirt that would inevitably be tracked in by her dogs Solomon and The Dude.
Vanessa’s furnishings, art and decor reflect a wide range of styles and origin. It doesn’t matter if it’s antique or modern, traditional or folk; if Vanessa loves it, she incorporates it into her home. Her aesthetic influences span the globe. There are bright Moroccan tiles in the bathroom, carved Mexican cougar heads in the guest room, and teak Tibetan monk statues from Thailand in nearly every corner.
Vanessa’s playful and unrestricted approach to homemaking makes her house unique. Tiny plastic figurines from toy stores and vending machines, plus funny pop culture references that appear throughout the house keep the feeling light. “I find my house personally entertaining,” says Vanessa. “I just sort of laugh and enjoy. I think that’s what a house should be all about.”
You can see the full tour and learn more about the Vanessa's style and inspiration on Apartment Therapy.
Photos and text by Jacqueline Marque