Our client’s home was architecturally designed to follow the wonderful views of a pond, meadow, and extensive garden in a curve. Though she had lived in the house for many years while raising her family, she felt the interior no longer reflected her sensibilities. At our first meeting, she specifically asked us to bring femininity and softness into her living space focusing on the master bedroom, living room, and family room. Her existing home was decorated in earthy shades of olives and browns, which had begun to feel heavy and drab.Read More
We wanted the primary suite to be an oasis for our clients. The bedroom is woodsy and calm, with a bit of tongue and cheek humor on the theme. The ceiling features a wood grain, which is drawn and applied as wallpaper rather than a more traditional wood ceiling. Chairs face outwards towards the view for quiet reflection and meditation. The trees outside and neutral interior tones combine with with weathered teals to promote feelings of relaxation. Woven striped linen custom window treatments are accented with tie backs featuring trim made of twigs.Read More
Within a small courtyard, a red plum plank door welcomes our clients, their adult children, and a large extended family.
Inside the entry, Karen Beckwith Creative brought the outside in by featuring bare trees sporting golden pears. The plank shiplap ceiling we painted in a soft yellow green – the actual color of pears.Read More
The upstairs loft suite was renovated into a private sanctuary for the homeowner’s teenage son, which overlooks a gorgeous meadow and forest beyond. In it we have a study/guest suite, a private bath and a grownup bedroom furnished with lovely modern pieces.Read More
This is a converted barn space, which had not been touched since the early 1990s and was badly in need of updating. Our goal was to insert a feeling of clean modernity without stripping the rusticity of the original barn. Our client pined for the clean slate of white.Read More
Our clients purchased a 80s modern Rhode Island beach cottage with long distance views to the sea from the second floor living space. The footprint of the house is small but they requested a living room that could accommodate up to 8 guests seated. We furnished with tight back custom frames covered in outdoor performance fabrics. The resulting room is largely neutral – light oatmeal tones with colorful textures on the seat cushions of the club chairs and coordinating seaside crewel work pillows. All are accented with custom made Karen Beckwith Creative throw pillows.Read More
Our design directive was to make a crisp, clean yet classic lake cottage with practical hard-wearing materials. We kept the majority of the surfaces neutral and added color in places where we had wide beaded board accent walls. The result is a home that feels simultaneously vintage and contemporary.Read More
An outdoor shower in New England has an extremely short season so we endeavored to create the feeling of an outdoor shower indoors. This master suite bath, architecture by David Potter, connects his and hers bathrooms at the walk through shower.Read More
An unfinished basement is transformed into a “play’sment” space for our clients’ teenagers along with an extra guest room just outside of Boston.Read More
During this renovation we wanted to keep everything that felt authentic about this Rhode Island 1880s farmer’s cottage.Read More
This third floor bathroom was created using found space that was hidden at the intersection of the old roof line and the new addition.Read More
This dreamy guest bedroom features soft cream and taupe.Read More
When does modern become modern? This Berkshire retreat began its modern life in the 70s and was partially renovated in the 90s, leaving it with a bit of an identity crisis. The owners’ suite was our first challenge; we removed dark rose plumbing fixtures arranged poorly for function. The space now features dimensional wall tile, natural brass plumbing fixtures, a wet room concept with his and her showers, a modern free standing tub, and a basket weave teal tile floor that suggests stepping into a Berkshire pond.Read More
Sometimes the concept for a piece of art requires the larger scale of the walls themselves. Art that is applied directly to the walls creates an immersive experience that only scale can provide. Karen Beckwith Creative often collaborates on modern designs for ‘art on walls’ with muralist Ardis Barrow of Art & Atmosphere.Read More
Color leads the way to the dramatic living room and bedrooms on the stair risers, pulling tints of coastal color from every room in the house.Read More
Beach house details.Read More
Pool house family space with kitchenette.Read More
First week in an old island cottage --- which although new to us was partially built in the 1880s --- and I am feeling things about scale I don’t normally feel. I want to learn about who built this little shelter, and why the design grew the way it did. Volumes of space are stitched together in an organic patchwork of rooms across the west facing hilltop in what looks to be a haphazard design from the outside, but lives sensibly from within.
I can see how it was built, which leaves us with quite the conundrum for the future. But more about that later.
It is small here. The ceilings are kind of low, and the ever-present wind skips off the simple rooflines in search of higher structures to disturb. I look at the Block Island landscape, which I have painted for 20+ years, and see that the roofline of the house mimics the wind-sheared vegetation all around it. Nothing here gets to grow very tall, at least not naturally. In 1880, folks were not building their homes for self-expression, and the dwellings mostly hugged the hillsides. Farmers & fishermen in those days lived their lives within nature, and within the seasons.
Light pours into every room from at least two exposures. The sun’s arc across the sky lives in patterns of yellow light on every dresser top or floor, stating the time of day as plainly as a digital clock. It is fantastic to be inside here, even on a perfect beach day. One small bedroom is so gloriously sunny that our girls decided to sleep in there together, in side-by-side twins, which they have not done for years.
Our family is at a tender moment: two still married able-bodied parents of two independent/adult/working/single children who are occasionally available to get together as a family nucleus. This moment will not last long. We have spent five wonderful days together getting acquainted with our little cottage, saying how-do-you-do, and allowing it to imprint upon us. We found our quad often gathered within the same small room because, well, all the rooms are small. They are also cozy, and just about right for everything we need to do or accomplish, like togetherness.
The small scale promotes fewer cell conversations and group decision making, like which video-taped film to watch. Nothing here is fabulous, or modern, or state of the art. There is nary a DVD or CD player to be found, no surround sound, no dock for an iPod. Air conditioning has not been invented yet on my island and dresser-top fans are used only on the hottest nights. There is the ocean to cool off in, after all, and it works.
The three original circa 1880 rooms were heated with a fireplace and water was brought in from a well pump. For the other necessities of human life, there was the outhouse. Now there is a washer & dryer! Flushing toilets! And hot water showers --- one inside and one out! How we appreciated these basic luxuries over the past few days. I have washed dishes by hand, and felt time slow as my mind had time to wander or I had a conversation with a daughter. I swept the floor, without an effective vacuum on hand, and without using a single kilowatt. It took less than an hour to sweep up the whole house and do a pretty good job.
I have to go now; my clean sheets need to be hung on a clothesline to dry in the breeze of a glorious blue-sky August morning. I will smell the freshness of today again tonight when I crawl into bed. There’s more, I am learning, about a scale that delivers less.
My mind empties, deflates almost, as soon as my ears fill with the rhythm of waves lapping sand. Suddenly, nothing in there. The traffic to the shore, the concerns of work or marriage, the heat, the funny sound coming from my car, the to-do list of life…all blank. Leaning against a log, feet bury into cool sand: what is it about the repeating tempo? Scent of beach roses, touch of breeze against skin, song birds calling. At the waters’ edge, place of mysterious depth where life on our planet was pushed forth into being…this is the place where I give my self up, effortlessly. Every time. Just happens: I empty. I am. I walk and look, see, but don’t think.
There is color, and another. I put color in my pocket. Back on the porch, I see my meditation yields a banquette, a feast of time and weather on material.