Ways to bring bold looks into any space on a shoestring

GET RHODY STYLE: Design Inspiration from Three Luxury Homes


Whether you live in a newly constructed manse or a single-room studio, most any space can be made stylish and personal. It begins with outfitting your surroundings with the things that make you happy, comfortable, and safe. We’ve rounded up three examples of quintessential Rhode Island style on a grand scale: a seaside cottage on Great Island in Narragansett, a Newport yacht, and a Spanish Colonial on the East Side of Providence. While we may not all have coastal views, a porthole, or ample square footage, let’s face it – even in Gilded Age mansions – most time is spent in the smallest spaces where one feels cozy and secure. Each aspirational home tour is filled with ideas on how to translate the looks for your own home.


Michael Mosca and husband David Melançon live between Manhattan and Narragansett with their six-year-old Parsons Russell Terrier, Lorenzo. Mosca is a realtor with Sotheby’s Mott & Chace International Realty, specializing in luxury coastal properties, and Melançon is the founder and managing partner of a brand strategy consultancy and serves on the board of Providence-based Social Enterprise Greenhouse. Through the years the industrious pair has designed and decorated a Manhattan loft, a Colorado timber home, a California marina bungalow, and an 1890 sea cottage in Ogunquit, which they “restored and loved for more than 10 years until the commute from Manhattan for weekend visits became too much to handle,” Mosca explains. They sold the Maine property and began looking for a home on the North Fork of Long Island until a summer trip to Narragansett, where Mosca “discovered” Great Island.

Even though Mosca spent his childhood summers at Narragansett beaches – “I even learned to swim at Sand Hill Cove!” – he wasn’t aware of the small island accessed by Galilee Escape Road in Narragansett. He recalls the freezing February day he visited a handful of properties with his sister, including the one that would become home. “It fell squarely into the category of ‘worst house in the best neighborhood,’ and my husband was on board sight unseen. Having undertaken several renovation projects over the past 20+ years, we knew we could turn it into something we’d love,” says Mosca with a knowing smile.

The pair purchased the property thinking they’d modify or expand the existing 600-square-foot home. “That became impossible due to zoning and building restrictions,” says Mosca, who explains that they decided to raze it and start from scratch, embarking on a three-year project between design, permits, and construction. Although they had experience renovating older homes, they’d never built a new one, and enlisted architect Laura Krekorian, who helped them realize their vision of a charming Great Island escape of their own.

Inside decor is based on a pleasing neutral palette of creams, linens, and soft grays that connect with the natural colors outside. “These are comfortable hues for us, and they complement any style of furnishings and art. They also allow the architectural details like the stone wall around the fireplace, soaring ceiling, and wonderful water views to shine,” says Mosca. “We decidedly did not want a coastal home that was traditional blue and white or shouted ‘nautical’ in any way.”

“South County is an amazing place – the best of the land and the sea,” muses Mosca. “We walk or bike down the street to our local fish market (Ferry Wharf) nearly every day, and we eat local produce pretty much exclusively. We paddleboard, kayak, and quahog (yes, it’s a verb!) from our backyard. We love the beach in all seasons, even winter when we can go with our dog, Lorenzo.”


Love the look of a rustic barn door? Sliding door hardware kits are available and include pre-drilled planks of wood in a variety of finishes, with handles and screws. Check your local hardware or home supply store. Prices start around $155.


Nothing fills shelves with color better than rows of books. Find used copies for a song at library sales. Mix things up by grouping spines by hue or turn around for a neutral look.


Look beyond the bath department for interesting mirrors to hang above the sink.


Give interiors a streamlined look by sticking to a neutral scheme – a mix of textures keeps things interesting!


Update dining areas by replacing chairs with metal counter stools; available in a wide range of colors, this sturdy seating is built to withstand daily use, and often fits beneath the table.


Make an entrance by painting the front (or any) door a fun color in a satin or glossy finish. While you’re at it, paint or buy a planter to match, too.


Choosing light fixtures and buying furniture are rites of passage when it comes to moving into a new home, but what if that home is a yacht? For a pair of empty-nesters who purchased a Vicem 65 Classic, this meant returning to Maloney Interiors. “This is a long-time client of mine,” says Ally Maloney, founder and principal designer. “Our first project together was refitting his previous boat, a Vicem 58 back in 2015. When he decided to build the Vicem 65, he told me about his plans and we got to work coordinating design efforts with the team from Vicem Yachts.”

Maloney explains that soft-good selections were made with her clients at her office on Thames Street in Newport. During the construction phase, the designer traveled to Istanbul to meet with Vicem’s team and make additional selections. When the boat arrived stateside in Florida, it was outfitted with everything from dinnerware and drinkware to accessories and decor. Because this was a new build, most of the items were fabricated by Vicem Yachts in Turkey. A few accents, such as pillows, were made in Rhode Island at Maloney’s workroom, and much of the artwork aboard the boat is from Sheldon Fine Art, also in Newport.

So what goes into furnishing a yacht? Maloney explains that this is dependent on the type of boat and its use. For example, large yachts are climate controlled 24/7 and staffed with crew who maintain the vessel and its furnishings. “In this case you’re not really limited with what can be placed aboard the boat, and furniture, artwork, rugs, lighting, fabric, etc. can be sourced the same as you would for a home,” says Maloney. On smaller boats that aren’t always climate controlled, or that have more exposed areas, performance fabrics, materials, and finishes that hold up well to the sun and elements are needed.

Any technical queries from the client were fielded to Vicem, but aesthetic requests, such as color, tone, mood, and feel of the boat’s interior, were handled by Maloney. “Selections included a transitional – not too modern, not too classic – design with a blue color palette; that’s the owner’s favorite color,” says the designer.

The owners live in Massachusetts, keep the boat in Newport, and use it seasonally to enjoy the City by the Sea and take weeklong trips to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. “I believe that many of my clients most enjoy using their boats as a space for relaxation, to get away, to casually or privately entertain family and friends. It’s a fun way to travel to favorite destinations and just get away from it all.”


Bring a coastal vibe to even land-locked spots with a variety of accents all in shades of blue.


Patterns mix effortlessly no matter the motif when adhering to a single hue.


Give bedding a boutique feel with the addition of a bolster pillow. 


Use model ships and items from a marine supply store (think brass clocks and hanging bells) to add authentic nautical appeal.


Bring a splash of color to a dark wall with a seascape painting or map.


This is the tale of a family of five who found their dream home in Providence – a beautiful brick house with Spanish Colonial details – and that rare and coveted East Side feature: a yard. Inside, the 1929 property boasts a grand tiled center hall with a curved staircase, arched French doors, and a back living room with a fireplace leading to the sunroom. Everything was perfect – except for one room.

“It was all wrong,” says Craig Couture, design manager at Cypress Design Co., a boutique interior design firm based in East Providence that focuses on kitchens and bathrooms. He’s referring to the conundrum that was the existing kitchen. “It was a large space with a layout that did not function well for this home’s new family. The original kitchen was long and had everything stuck in a small rectangle. To get a larger kitchen, we needed to change the focus to a larger rectangle.” 

With shape-shifting plans confirmed, renovations followed, and soon the odd kitchen layout was revised. To conceal a drain pipe, coffered ceilings were prescribed, adding to the architectural interest which includes molding, charming multi-paned windows, and arched doorways. 

Knowing that his clients favor a minimalist approach while also being considerate of the character of the home, Couture selected a calming palette of custom white with gray-on-gray. “The cabinets are white, the island is gray, and the walls are a shade lighter than the island. It’s timeless and modern at once and very soothing.” A luminous Daltile glass backsplash was installed along with Bianco Calacatta Silestone Quartz countertops, white with a thick gray vein, which contributes to the classic-meets-contemporary aesthetic.

Making great use of the narrow footprint, at one end of the kitchen, a custom bench with storage serves as the basis for a breakfast nook. Outfitted with pillows and a mix of chairs, it adds to the casual atmosphere that has descended upon the stately home. Brass hardware and wood accents visually connect to the hardwood flooring and other rooms within view.

“Clients should love their spaces,” says Couture. “Our goal is to bring elevated designs to homeowners and guide them through the renovation or new-build process.” And when it comes to adding your own imprint: “Introduce personality through artwork, furniture, paint, window treatments, and accessories. These items can easily be changed over time, and if you keep the fixed architectural elements of the home consistent, you cannot go wrong.”


Make any space appear fresh and bright with coats of white paint; even pieces that don’t match will appear unified. A subtle wall color like pale gray paired with white is a classic combo that works with many design styles.


Wherever privacy allows, allow in as much natural light into your home as possible.


Streamline the appearance of your sink by replacing your existing faucet with a gooseneck model; their high arc makes filling and washing deep pots a breeze.


Replacing hardware on cabinets is a low-risk way to update a kitchen.


Use personalized items, monogrammed towels, and wall art letters to infuse spaces with warmth.


Who says the table needs all seating to be the same? Mix things up by adding a bench and random chairs.


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