Driving 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
The pair purchased the homestead in the fall of 2020, which had been owned previously by the same extended family for the past 120 years. 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.”
Sense of Place
“I think always remembering to highlight the place, and distilling what makes a place special down to its essence, is so important: The love of the ocean. The celebration of summer and the sun and colors that make Rhode Island so special. The importance of family, and making sure there are comfortable, livable spaces for different age groups to relax and make memories.”
“In a beach home, I’m all about clear, vibrant pops of color that work well in the sunshine and reflect the colors around you. Vibrant blues and aquas, bright whites to frame the outdoors, and splashes of pink because it’s my favorite color, but also to reference the pink insides of slipper shells and sunsets. I love pale blues and greens that remind me of the seaglass I grew up collecting on Narragansett Bay in Barrington.”
COAST TO COAST
“I grew up in Rhode Island but spent many years in California (as a creative director for Pottery Barn Kids and other retail companies). I’m always thinking about how to maximize the experience between indoor and outdoor – a key part of home design in California.” Follow Isabella on Instagram @milkandhoneygroup
“All the original cast iron sinks and tubs were removed and lovingly restored by Miracle Method in Johnston, then reinstalled. I absolutely loved working with Sakonnet Plumbing, Lamplighter Electric (both in Little Compton), and Valcourt Heating in Tiverton. They were extremely responsive and professional and did impeccable work.”
“I love the Cottage in Tiverton, which is a refined and curated source for all home goods but especially linens and rugs. Groundswell is a new destination in Tiverton as well, and it has an amazing selection of garden pieces and accessories with patina; I particularly love their white marble letters to spell out special words or names.”