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Design Ideas
Nautical Nest
A Rhode Island home with ocean views manages to balance effortless elegance with cottage charm.
When a couple decided to put down roots in their favorite vacation spot in Rhode Island, they enlisted the help of builder Randy Gardner of Gardner Woodwrights, Ltd. They tore down the home that previously resided on the land and built their dream home from scratch. There was no lack of inspiration, as the rest... Keep Scrolling
Written by Emily Irby
Photography by Aaron Usher
A window seat not only provides another seating option in the living room, but it also brings attention to the home’s beautiful views.

When a couple decided to put down roots in their favorite vacation spot in Rhode Island, they enlisted the help of builder Randy Gardner of Gardner Woodwrights, Ltd. They tore down the home that previously resided on the land and built their dream home from scratch. There was no lack of inspiration, as the rest of the homes in the neighborhood all have the same coastal cottage style. This home combines the best elements of cottage and beach style to create a New England gem.

Quality Materials

To preserve some of the original home, Randy decided to salvage novelty pine from the previous structure and use it to rebuild the new home. Pine is just one of the many types of wood he incorporated into the home’s design. The floors are hickory and the ceilings on the second floor are fir. Another notable fir design is the entirely wooden hallway that makes you feel as if you’ve been transported to the bottom deck of a ship.

These kinds of features give the home character in a way that never feels overdone or predictable.


Randy acknowledges the importance of the rich types of wood in the home.

“It added the warmth and brings charm to where people can hang out and socialize.”

To keep the coastal cottage look but also create a home that would last through wear and weather over the years, Randy created a shiplap design with durable MDF sheet stock. He favored the sheet stock over wood for this project because it wouldn’t crack during cold winter months like the latter frequently does.

The formal dining room is next to the den, making for a seamless transition when entertaining.
The natural light in the home allows for simple light fixtures. The single pendant light over the breakfast nook brings retro charm to the décor.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and this home has a beautiful heart. The crisp blue and white cabinets and chestnut island are fresh and timeless.

Framing the Design

In order to ensure the home maintained an air of elegance, there were certain architectural details that were crucial to its design. To create the illusion of higher ceilings, exposed wood beams were added to the master bedroom.

“Even though the ceilings weren’t that high in the house, the beams carried the loftiness and gave it a bit more elegance.”

“Also in the master bedroom is the striking stone fireplace that extends down to the matching one in the living room,” Randy says. The fireplace in the living room is two-sided and provides warmth to the home’s screened-in porch on rainy days.

A transom atop an archway separates the living room from the dining room and breaks apart the main rooms on the first floor. “We wanted to elevate it and make it a statement room,” Randy says. The living room’s bay window and French doors balance the elegance of the room with the playfulness of nautical art.

The home never strays too far from the land’s roots, and the rope railing along the stairs and the playful wallpaper in the bathroom maintain the best part of New England cottage style.

In the girls’ bedroom, the walls stay bare and simple with the exception of a couple of small paintings. This keeps the focus on the beautiful ocean views and clean lines of the tongue-and-groove walls.
To accommodate some of the home’s younger residents, the drawers underneath the sink pull out to double as step stools.
The freestanding bathtub is the perfect addition to any cottage-style home, and the built-in counter surrounding it allows for plenty of storage.

Wooden Wonder

4 ways to complement your wood interiors through your décor.

1. Lighting. Woods are beautiful, but if you use a lot of natural wood finishes the result can be dark on rainy days and during the winter. To counteract this, focus on lighting. Make sure there are enough windows to let in natural light, and install plenty of lamps, sconces and recessed lights to keep the spaces from looking too dark or gothic.
2. Furniture. Light-colored neutral chairs and sofas will balance the richness of the wood. Avoid darker tones and materials, such as dark leather, which will make the room look smaller and cluttered.
3. Textiles. To decorate a coastal home, stay away from heavy fabrics, like velvet, that will overwhelm the room in combination with darker woods, like mahogany. Flowing and light fabrics, like linen and lace, will keep the room airy.
4. Mix and match. Not every wood surface has to have the same type of wood or finish. If you don’t want to try mixing wood colors with the larger pieces in the room like cabinets or tables, then experiment with smaller items like picture frames and coasters.
This rope railing is a simple but standout nautical addition to the home’s design. It’s practical but also playful.

Seaside Style

Use these simple tricks to incorporate beach elements into your décor.

Seashells. Seashells are the quintessential coastal symbol. Lamps, sconces, coasters and throw pillows all come in the fun shape, but if you’re looking for a more natural look,collect your own and display them on a glass perfume tray on the coffee table, in a fish bowl or on a bookshelf.
Artwork. Ocean paintings are the perfect pieces to add to your décor. They bring a pop of color but also a calming energy to the space. Match the frame to the rest of your furnitureso the attention stays on the painting.
Wicker. Wicker doesn’t have to be just a vacation-rental staple; it can bring a coastal cottage vibe to your home. Wicker patio chairs are a common go-to item, but don’t be afraid to experiment with end tables, footstools and sculptures.


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