Home Tour: Newport

When a summer house became a primary residence, the attic got a second look


riving to Sakonnet Point in Little Compton can lead one to ponder: how could I ever own one of these houses? For Tim and Isabella Ehrlich, part of that answer was being ready to take on relocating families of frogs, along with a lengthy list of repairs and upgrades on a defined timeline. Says Isabella, “We wanted to uncover the original bones of the house and restore them, and we did not open up the walls like one might in a suburban home. We wanted the home to look as it always did, but refreshed and loved.”

The couple live and work in Cambridge, Massachusetts and had been looking for years for a place that could serve as a ‘compound’. Originally from Barrington, Isabella explains, “I come from a very large family, and it has been harder through the years to find a place that could house all of us. The property has a main house, a cottage, and a bunkhouse, so now not only can we sleep 22 but we have plenty of space to spread out comfortably and have private and more intimate moments, as well as large
family gatherings.” 

The pair purchased the homestead, which had been owned previously by the same extended family for the past 120 years, in the fall of 2020. The main house, called the “Big House” by the prior owners, is classic Shingle Style architecture, built in 1900 as a summer home. The Cottage (or “White House” as it was known) was built as a playhouse for the children of the Big House; in the 1940s, it was renovated to be a full summer cottage in its own right with bunk rooms, a master bedroom, kitchen, and bathrooms added.

“This house is all about its beautiful location. It has a sweeping view of Sakonnet Harbor, out to the Sakonnet River and the ocean and Newport. It is the most breathtaking view I have ever seen, and everything in the renovation and design of the home is intended to maximize the enjoyment of the view and access to the water. The design of the home is the frame to the natural surroundings,” says Isabella, who is also the owner/contractor for Milk & Honey Group, a design-build firm based in Cambridge.

“As a designer, sometimes working on your own home is the hardest task. I tried to incorporate all the things I would love to have in a summer home, and that would make it comfortable and relaxing. This home became like a greatest hits of all the homes I’ve ever worked on. As soon as I arrive, my blood pressure goes down – I’m home.”


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