Home: Book Excerpt from Small Spaces, Big Appeal by Fifi O’Neill

After years of living in apartments, Jenna and Iain Kinghorn discovered the perfect bungalow in Riverside


he 1,000-square-foot property is situated on a picket-fenced corner lot in a quiet neighborhood of the former resort town, which dates to the late 1800s. Its storybook qualities caught the couple’s eye.

“It was just the right size for us and our four kitties Teddy, Agnes, Remy, and Charlotte,” Kinghorn recalls. “The moment we walked in, we fell in love with the flow of the rooms and the architectural features: the arched doorways, wood floors, and moldings and beadboard ceiling in the porch.”

Luckily, the home was in great condition. The only space in need of a major refit was the bathroom, which had a pink-and-brown 1960s vibe. “We gutted it and renovated the entire room, installing a new shower, toilet, sink, and flooring,” says Kinghorn, who is a self-taught interior decorator.

“Everything else has been cosmetic. I’ve worked room by room, painting and wallpapering in my signature shades of blue and white.” Kinghorn’s interiors style is heavily influenced by her travels, whether in the English countryside, Iain’s native Scotland, or northern France, where the couple has a vacation home. Her favorite colors are a classic pairing that never dates and is dependably fresh. “I’ve always loved how calming and cozy blue and white feel,” she says. “It’s also my husband’s favorite combination, as they’re the colors of the Scottish flag.” Kinghorn’s signature palette even inspired the name of her online shop, Blanc & Bleu, which offers a curated collection of vintage finds, handmade goods, and upcycled furniture.

Although decorating comes naturally to Kinghorn, she says her biggest challenge was figuring out the layout and the placement of her furniture. “Smaller rooms require being creative with not only how you arrange furnishings but also what you will actually use in that space,” she notes.

“My original plan for the living room changed once I re-measured it before we moved in. I ended up having to get rid of several pieces that just didn’t work for the space.” Her advice? Map out the floor plan and measure, measure, measure! Avoiding clutter is also high on her list of priorities. “When it comes to buying furniture or accessories, I have a rule that nothing new comes in unless something old goes out.”

True to herself, Kinghorn keeps an open mind and is well prepared when it comes to shopping. She will scour thrift stores as well as flea markets and major retailers to find just the right items. “I always carry a notebook full of color samples, fabric swatches, and measurements for each room, as well as a wish list of items we need, which I can refer to if I come across something that might work,” she explains.

“We wanted a home that would be both pretty and practical. Everything needed to be functional, useful, and comfortable but also to fit my vision of a cottage-style interior. I sourced a mix of new and vintage pieces, many of which I personally made over with paint or upholstery.” Kinghorn’s organizational skills and fondness for classic French rural style is apparent in these carefully edited and lovingly appointed rooms, which she has allowed to breathe and flow. “It comes down to being aware of your space and sticking with only what you feel is necessary – compromise is essential for making a small home comfortable,” she says.

She has some simple advice for anyone embarking on a similar project. “Live in your home for a good six months before changing anything. This will give you an idea of what works, what doesn’t and what changes need to happen. Make the smart investment by doing things once and right. Don’t do temporary fixes, which end up costing more in the end.”


Get Rhody Style

Ideas and resources for making the most of living in the Ocean State.

Riverside Meets River Seine

When Kinghorn is craving a French fix, she cites the following as her go-to’s: Le Central, Bristol; Stoneacre, Newport; Ellie’s, Providence; Rind Cheese Shop, Barrington; Le Bec Sucre, Middletown, and Bottles in Providence for their great selection of French wines.


Local Accents

For infusing spaces with Parisian style, Kinghorn stocks French baskets and painted furniture at her online shop BlancAndBleuHome.com, sources custom pillow covers Three Sparrows Interior Design in Warren, and heads to the Dahlia Shed in Middletown for fresh flowers.


Something Old

“My favorite spots to shop for unique vintage bits are Groundswell Garden & Home, Tiverton; Jules Antiques & General Store, Richmond; Rhode Island Antiques Mall, Pawtucket; Stillwater Antiques, Greenville; and Old Stone Mill Antiques & Treasures in the historic village of Chepachet.”



No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here