Live Well | Home Style

Modern Comforts

A Barrington couple finds the dream home they didn’t know they were looking for.

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Napoleon Bonaparte was once quoted as saying, "There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed." The sentiment would aptly apply to the experience of one Barrington couple. The couple was happily enjoying life in their approximately 3,000 square foot home when a family member happened to see a real estate listing for a small but extraordinary house on Hundred Acre Cove.

The couple wasn't in the market and had been in their home for less than three years, but some.thing told them to see the property - just for the sake of it. "We went the next day," the homeowner says. "When I first saw it, I absolutely fell in love.... we just looked at each other and were like, ‘Oh boy.'"

Despite the fact that they would be losing around 1,500 square feet of living space and creature comforts like their garage, basement, attic and the ubiquitous "mancave," the couple knew the contemporary gem with jaw-dropping views was built just for them.

"I prefer clean lines," says the homeowner. "It was a beautiful blank canvas." The couple placed their existing home on the market and started purging all of the excess items they came to discover they could live without. Furnishings that wouldn't have a space in the Hundred Acre Cove house were sold or donated, and clothing that wasn't a "must have" was also passed along to those in need (the homeowner volunteers at a local shelter, which made gifting the 17 bags of clothes particularly uplifting). While the thought of parting with the things bought, collected and inherited throughout a life.time may sound traumatic, the couple discovered it had the opposite effect. "It felt really good to downsize... to live this minimalist lifestyle with just the bare necessities."

Naturally, the couple looked more into how the home came to be and discovered that at one time, there was a humble cabin on the land, which was later abandoned. (The couple cringes to think what creatures and critters may or may not have taken up residence in the space!) A developer bought the land and started new construction but all activity came to a halt when he went bankrupt. As the house had been swathed in green building wrap, the couple learned neighbors began to simply refer to the incomplete home as "The Green Monster."

One visionary, Rouben Balagian, knew the house had all the characteristics to transform it from a monster to a masterpiece. The designer and principal at buildPROS, a Providence-based design build firm, Balagian took on the project and completed the home so that it took advantage of the panoramic water views with floor to ceiling windows, and maximized the limited but functional square footage. His fore.sight gave the home its unorthodox contemporary aesthetic, which one could argue was custom-built with this specific homeowner in mind. "Thanks to the creative eye of [Balagian], the house has been transformed from a small unoccupied cabin to a beautiful modern space," beams the homeowner. "It's quirky; a little different. There's no house like it in Barrington."

There was another profound reason the house seemed destined for the couple. "Several years ago, my father, a recreational fisherman, had an accident and has been lost at sea," she says. "The house reminds me of happy memories with him. Not exactly sure what it is, maybe it's the nautical ac.cents sprinkled throughout the house." She says when her family first came to see the house, they knew instantly why the couple had made what could have been interpreted as a rash decision. "They just loved it because we're water people," she explains.

With a house of limited space, each furnishing and décor decision is a calculated one, which is why the couple has not fully completed each space. "I definitely think twice about anything I bring in the house," says the home.owner. "As far as the decor goes, it's a work in progress. We moved in January and are finally starting to commit to a transitional look that bridges a minimal modern design style with a traditional style in some pieces."

Most pieces are multi-functional and many have been handcrafted specifically for the space. Local craftsman Paul Reposo created two pieces for the third floor: a coffee table made from reclaimed wood with a base made from industrial pipe fittings, and a matching pedestal stand for the homeowner's 30-gallon fish tank which equally offers extra storage.

As folks who live on the water typically do, the couple's outdoor space is functionally an additional living space and offers an enviable area in which to entertain friends and family. Marvin Crespin of Crespin Landscaping used a variety of plantings to polish the surroundings which is where the couple often hosts intimate dinner parties or shares the sun.set with neighbors. (The neighborhood threw the couple a welcoming party when they moved in, laying the ground.work for lasting relationships.)

While there are plans in the works to eventually make upgrades including construction on the dock, more landscaping and possibly a rooftop deck, the couple, along with their two dogs, has never felt more at home. They say waking up in the house still feels like they are in a luxury hotel on vacation, only they can pop into the kitchen, make coffee and watch the sun cast it's first light on the water forevermore.

"We feel really lucky," they say. "I never thought I'd live somewhere that makes me so happy."