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Patience is (a Home Owner's) Virtue

A new family home in Swansea


When Dr. Gregg Melfi and his wife Beth were looking to move their family from their home in North Dartmouth to accommodate his new Bristol-based dental practice two years ago, they couldn’t have imagined the roller coaster ride ahead of them. Just 48 hours after putting their house on the market, they had a buyer. “Two days, in this crazy economy, almost fully furnished, full price,” Beth says. “I mean, when I say I love to stage, I love to stage. The people walked in and said, ‘Whatever price it is, we’ll take it. And I want all your furniture too.’”

Beth, a multi-faceted designer and artist, had worked to ensure the contemporary colonial home had a pleasing aesthetic with stylish furnishings. Though the idea of leaving everything behind was unexpected, it was also invigorating. “To have to shop again for all new furniture? That was not a problem,” she says with a smile.

The couple expected to find a home closer to Gregg’s Dental 1 practice quickly, but a delicate housing market combined with the desire for four bedrooms and an open floor plan rendered the search more challenging than anticipated. The family, which included then-teenagers Jimmy, Christina and Alex, not to mention dogs Honey and Snowy, plus a bunny, moved into their beach house in Portsmouth. They remained there for a year until Beth ever auspiciously stumbled upon a new development – Hampden Cove in Swansea. “I walked in the front door before the realtor could set up an appointment, and it was just…” her eyes widen as she lets out a gasp. “I died and went to heaven. It was overwhelming, and it was just so meant to be that we finally found this one.”

The home Beth had fallen for was a model, which could have been a major hurdle. Undeterred, she pleaded her case to the builders, Alex and Rod Mitchell of Meridian Custom Homes, who took some convincing but soon gave the Melfis their blessing. “We bought it in two days,” she says proudly. “Just had to have it.”

Last July, the family walked through the front door of their new exquisite shingle-style custom home, nestled on more than an acre of manicured grounds. The heart of the home is a wide-open area awash in natural light with the dining space to the left and the living space in the center, to which the kitchen is parallel. Maple hardwood flooring gleams underfoot and unifies the space while round, nontapered columns add architectural interest. A wall of windows frames the flora and fauna that extends into the distance, while 10-foot ceilings offer a light and airy ambiance throughout. By the hearth, a wet bar is as fashionable as it is functional (as the couple entertains frequently). “We would have never necessarily picked it,” Beth concedes, but the light colors combined with the open plan and plentiful windows made it irresistible. Though she would describe the home as traditional, it offers unequivocally contemporary detailing, making it adjustable to diverse tastes. The builders’ attention to detail, she says, is what makes all the difference: a cohesive color scheme throughout, transoms, wainscoting, granite countertops, classic but contemporary wallpapers, modern light fixtures – it’s a blend of styles that work in harmony.

“We haven’t even done too much; this is pretty much how we found it,” admits Beth, explaining that as a designer, her intrinsic calling is to change things from how they were found. And while she’s frequently moving furniture or décor around, the infrastructure and flow continues to charm. Christina’s room is the picture of teenage bliss with bright colors, ultrafeminine furnishings and a whimsical pendant lamp. “Christina is a dancer and she just wanted a girly, girly room so she picked the colors,” says Beth of the pink and green palette.

The master bedroom is roomy with a private seating nook that offers 180-degree views of the bucolic backyard, a walk-in closet and en suite bath. “There are things I want to do here, but it’s fine. I have so many ideas. I haven’t even started this room yet,” she says of the master.

Son Alex’s room pays homage to the avid basketball player’s passion with his colorful collection of sneakers, which are neatly shelved on the wall, acting as functional art. Son Jimmy shares his brother’s neat and orderly approach with a modern room peppered with sleek furnishings and dark hues. Though comfortable, Jimmy spends more of his time in the garage, which has been fully outfitted to accommodate the budding entrepreneur’s high-end car detailing business. “He is the car aficionado in the family,” Beth says. The Melfis hired a painter to recreate what resembles a polo shirt on the wall. “Like a Lamborghini polo shirt,” Beth says. “He and my husband found this great click-in floor. Jim does all the work from here so he has clients come in and he spends three or four days detailing like you wouldn’t believe – very, very high-end detailing and he loves it, absolutely loves it. It’s heated in here and Meridian put the extra lights in for us; we’re going to be switching out the garage door openers because we want to put a car lift in here. So he’s got the music, he’s got the refrigerator - because his wax needs to be a certain temperature - and there’s heat,” so he can work throughout the winter months.

While the 2400 sq. ft. upstairs is casually elegant, the basement is where the family really unwinds. “We did another 1400 sq. ft. finished downstairs because my husband needed the man cave – it was a must. Plus, I’m a designer, and I make the biggest mess, so I needed an office.” They each got what they needed, in addition to a multi-media entertainment center and plush theater seating.

Beth’s office is where the creative spirit comes alive. “This is my pride and joy because I can make as much mess as I want,” Beth says with a laugh. “I do arts and healing programs at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and we do hand-painted chairs and grandfather clocks at the hospital with the kids, but then I have to bring it back home and varnish it and finish it up.”

Finally settled with everything in its place, Hampden Cove is starting to feel like home.