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Westerly Reveal | Modern Classic

This Old House takes a dated ranch to new heights, with an all-new second story and family-friendly, free-flowing living spaces downstairs.

Gambrel Roof Addition

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Within hours of moving into their renovated house, Scott and Shayla Adams and their two daughters felt right at home. There was food on the table, toys were spread out in the playroom—and even more toys spilled into the living area. But that’s just what Shayla had envisioned. “I knew I wanted the main living area to have an open floor plan. Now I can stand in the kitchen and be part of the action while the girls play,” she says. “This is what home should be, somewhere the girls can play, run around, do whatever they want.”

“It wasn’t until this project that I came to appreciate just how efficient the gambrel roofline is for creating more space.” —Kevin O’Connor, TOH Host

Shown: The house’s New England–style elements include a gambrel-roofed addition, cedar shingle siding, and white trim. Bluestone steps lead to the front and side doors.

RAFTER TAILS: Lamco
CEDAR SHINGLES: SBC
ROOF SHINGLES: GAF
EXTERIOR TRIM: Lifespan Solid Select
SOD: Sodco
RAINSCREEN: Mortairvent
WESTERLY GRANITE STEPS: Comolli Granite Company
MASONRY: Sharpe Construction

Adams Family

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The Adamses’ dream-house journey began in August 2018, when the couple purchased a run-down ranch in Westerly, Rhode Island. When they moved in a little over a year later, that ranch had been transformed into the perfect home for their young family—a spacious two-story, gambrel-roofed Dutch Colonial.

Shown: With what turned out to be a nine-month renovation behind them, Scott and Shayla Adams gather happily at their new kitchen island with Malin, 6, and Emily, 2.

New Spaciousness

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Their first decision after buying the house proved fateful: They hired TOH home builder Jeff Sweenor, whose work along the Rhode Island coast Scott had long admired, and soon after, the renovation became a subject of This Old House’s 41st television season.

Shown: The living/dining/kitchen area gains a new sense of spaciousness with an open plan, wide expanses of glass, and ceilings that rise to almost 10 feet high in the step-down living area. A coffered ceiling and white oak flooring unify the spaces. TOH master carpenter Norm Abram built the two-tiered salvaged-pine coffee table.

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Sweenor Builders
WINDOWS AND PATIO DOORS: Marvin Windows and Doors
WHITE OAK FLOORING: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods
BOOKCASES AND COFFERED CEILINGS: Sweenor Builders
RUG: Dash & Albert
WALL PAINT: Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray
WINDOW TREATMENTS: Eileen & Taylor
SOFA: McKay’s Furniture
PINE COFFEE TABLE: Custom, made by TOH master carpenter Norm Abram
DECORATIVE PILLOWS, THROWS: Crane & Company

L-Shaped Kitchen

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

“From the very start, Scott’s idea was to incorporate the gambrel style, which he had seen in other houses we did,” says Jeff. “The twist was that we were taking a one-story ranch and turning it into a two-story, but the house had a solid foundation, so we knew there would be no problem, structurally, adding a second floor.”

Shown: The working area of the kitchen has an L-shaped layout with white flat-panel cabinets and custom crown molding.

KITCHEN CABINET DESIGN: Completely Custom
KITCHEN CABINETS: Signature Custom Cabinetry
QUARTZ COUNTERTOPS: Cambria
KITCHEN SINKS AND FAUCETS: Kohler
WINDOWS: Marvin Windows and Doors
THERMOSTAT: Bryant
FLOORING: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods
PENDANT: Rejuvenation
PAINT: Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White (perimeter cabinetry), Stillwater (island base cabinetry)

Mudroom

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The gambrel made all the difference in TOH host Kevin O’Connor’s mind: “It wasn’t until this project that I appreciated just how efficient the gambrel roofline is for creating more space,” Kevin says. “They just added a second floor, and it feels like they tripled the space because of the gambrel shape.” In fact, the remodel added 1,250 square feet to the original 1,850-square-foot house.

Shown: The mudroom is lined with a combination of closed and open storage.
RUG: Dash & Albert
MUDROOM FLOOR TILE: Merola
BENCH UPHOLSTERY: Sunbrella Spectrum Cayenne
INTERIOR DOOR HARDWARE: Emtek

Dining to Deck

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Still, the Sweenor Builders design team, led by architectural designer Lori Foley, managed to incorporate all of Scott and Shayla’s wish-list spaces: an open-plan kitchen/dining/living area on the main part of the first floor; three bedrooms and two baths on the second floor; a den/office, a laundry, a playroom, plus one and a half baths in the remaining one-story section of the original house; and outdoor living spaces that include a stone patio, a wraparound deck, and a pergola.

Shown: South-facing patio doors provide easy access from the dining area to the deck.
DINING TABLE: Serena & Lily
SIDE CHAIRS: McKay’s Furniture
DINING ROOM CHANDELIER: Pottery Barn
RUG: Dash & Albert

Playroom

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

But the showpiece of the finished house is definitely the main floor’s open kitchen/dining/living space, which is brightened by an abundance of windows and patio doors, and enhanced by traditional trimwork that reflects a high level of craftsmanship. The flowing spaces are unified by a coffered ceiling, which Jeff put together using preassembled picture- frame molding fitted inside beams that crisscross a ceiling of white oak tongue-and-groove boards. Low bookcase built-ins with integrated posts and pilasters define the step-down living area. The fireplace wall’s nickel-gap cladding, with floating shelves and lower cabinets on either side, establishes the space as a casual gathering spot for a modern family. In the kitchen, marble-look quartz countertops offer a durable complement to the classic woodwork.

“The knotty pine that was everywhere in the original 1949 house was so true to the era. It’s great that we could reuse some of it in the playroom.” —Jeff Sweenor, TOH home builder

Shown: The playroom occupies a former bedroom; the room’s knotty pine wainscoting boards were salvaged from the original house and given a whitewash finish.
ROTO OPERATING WINDOWS: Marvin Windows and Doors
FLOOR: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods
PANELING: Sweenor Builders
ARTWORK: Avondale Arts

Minimalist Vanity

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

“I like the detail in this house,” says TOH general contractor Tom Silva. “Details like coffered ceilings and built-ins are why people love old houses, and here those details are done really well.”

Shown: The bathroom off the playroom evokes mid-century modern style with its minimalist vanity and black accents.
VANITY: Kohler

Stairway

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Beyond the kitchen/dining/living area, the trim details become just slightly simpler, the atmosphere just a bit more casual. The den and playroom, for example, have no crown molding and simple base molding, but the wide door and window casings reflect the robust trim used elsewhere in the house.

Shown: The stairway to the second floor is located in the front entry and features custom-milled newel posts.
STAIRWELL AND RAILING: Sweenor Builders
FLUSH MOUNT LIGHT: West Elm
ARTWORK: Avondale Arts
FLOOR: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods
RUG: Dash & Albert
PAINT: Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray at 25% (walls)

Sliding Barn Door

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

In the playroom, knotty pine boards salvaged from the house’s original walls have been whitewashed and recast as wainscoting. The cladding protects the walls from the dings of active play at the same time that it allows the old house a continued presence in the new home.

Shown: Sliding barn-style doors with glass panels allow parents to close off the den/office while maintaining sight lines.
SLIDING BARN DOOR, FLOORING: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods
SHELVING: California Closets

Landing Alcove

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Throughout, furniture with contemporary lines in tones of gray, taupe, and white reflects a modern mind-set. Natural light spills into the first floor, where wide glass doors also provide access to the deck. “The house has a nice balance of iconic New England elements on the outside—shingle siding, gambrel roof—and lighter tones and a mid-century modern feeling on the inside,” says interior designer Kristen Martone.

“Details like coffered ceilings and built-ins are why people love old houses, and here those details are done really well.” —Tom Silva, TOH general contractor

Shown: The second-floor landing holds a sitting area/reading alcove for the two daughters, with a custom built-in bookcase to fill with favorite titles.
BUILT-IN SHELVES: Sweenor Builders
UPHOLSTERED CHAIRS: Miceli’s Furniture, Westerly, RI

Bedroom Sweetened

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Color is placed strategically throughout, mostly as an accent: A cheerful orange all-weather-fabric seat cushion brightens the mudroom; the blue island adds coastal cool to the kitchen; more blue cabinets turn up flanking the living room fireplace. Upstairs, the girls’ bedrooms are painted and accessorized in their chosen pinks and purples.

Shown: Pink walls and a beaded chandelier sweeten the older daughter’s bedroom. Original oak flooring from the existing house was carefully removed and reinstalled in both girls’ bedrooms, where it was refinished to blend in with the new white oak flooring used in the rest of the house.
COLOR CONSULTANT: Justin S. Hobart, Hobart & Company
PAINTING CONTRACTOR: Parker Painting
BEDROOM FURNITURE: Maine Woodworks

Master Bedroom

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

One noteworthy piece of furniture in the house is the oval coffee table in the living room: It was crafted by TOH master carpenter Norm Abram, using eastern white pine that was culled from a property in Scott Adams’s family and was being stored in a barn. “The elliptical pieces are 1 3⁄8 inches thick, but the boards were much thicker at the start,” says Norm. “It was old, wavy wood, so we planed it quite a bit.” The project was built in Jeff Sweenor’s new cabinetry shop, with Scott helping in the final steps.

Shown: In the master bedroom, light-hued and natural elements—including pale blue walls, white oak floors, a beige-linen upholstered headboard, and wood furniture—create a serene retreat.
HARDWOOD FLOOR INSTALLATION: GQ Hardwood Floors, Inc.
BEDDING: Crane & Company

Master Bathroom

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

“I used to watch This Old House with my great-uncle, who was a carpenter,” says Scott. “The pine is from his barn, where he stored a lot of wood, so it really means a lot.”

Shown: The master bath’s marble floor tiles and marble-look quartz countertop add a luxurious touch to the wood vanity.
VANITY: Signature Custom Cabinetry
COUNTERTOP: Cambria’s Annica
FLOOR TILE: Bedrosian’s Glorious White

Island Workhorse

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

For comfortable living, the house has all-new HVAC, including a high-efficiency propane-fired furnace and variable-speed air conditioners. The furnace is state-of-the-art in terms of gas-fueled systems, says TOH plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey. “This type of furnace just keeps getting smarter and smarter,” he says. “It’s a high-efficiency furnace with modulating burners, variable fans, and dampers that communicate with each other, so everything is working together.” The house has four heating and cooling zones, with two on the first floor and two on the second.

Shown: With a blue base, furniture-like legs, ample work surface, and extra seating, the kitchen island is both a focal point and a workhorse.
CABINETRY: Signature Custom Cabinetry
FLOORING: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods
RANGE, DISHWASHER, REFRIGERATOR/FREEZER: Thermador
INSULATION INSTALLATION: Ecologic Insulation
HVAC: Evolution by Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems
HVAC CONTRACTOR: AGS HVAC Services
PLUMBING: J.N. Jordan Plumbing
PROPANE INSTALLATION: Newport Propane
SEPTIC SYSTEM: AdvanTex by Orenco
SEPTIC SYSTEM INSTALLATION: Green Wastewater Solutions

Bright and Casual Dining

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

“Our former house only had one zone, so we are really happy about the level of control we’ll have in this house,” says Scott.

Shown: The kitchen/dining area is bright and casual; the coffered ceiling adds architectural character.
WINDOWS: Marvin Windows and Doors
TABLE: Serena & Lily

Master Shower

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Another big plus for Scott and Shayla is the property itself, which sits on about one and three-quarters of an acre, 10 times the size of their former property. “There are so many more possibilities here for the girls to play and for us to enjoy the outdoors,” says Shayla. The landscape plan, created by TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook and TOH landscape designer Jenn Nawada, emphasizes privacy and found features. “We moved some rhododendron on the property to complete a hedge along the front of the house to make it more private, and in the backyard we cleared out brush to expose an old stone wall and create a big open play area near the existing flagpole,” says Roger. A wraparound deck along the kitchen, dining, and living areas offers easy access to the outdoors.

Shown: The tiled master shower incorporates sandy tones for a luxurious take on a beach theme.
SHOWER FIXTURES: Kohler

Living Area

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

If its bright, open interior and comfortable outdoor living spaces weren’t enough to make this a dream home for Scott and Shayla, there is one more “found” element that really capped the project: the ocean views.

Shown: The new living area, like the old, steps down from the entry and the dining area. The fireplace was given a modern look with a shiplap wall, floating shelves, and blue base cabinets. The television above the mantel has a built-in soundbar.
POUFS: Dash & Albert
MEDIA INSTALLATION: Completely Custom

Home Office

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Where the original one-story ranch offered no glimpse of the ocean that’s just a half mile away, the two-story Dutch Colonial provides water views from most of the second-floor rooms. On a clear day, even when there are leaves on the trees, the family can spot Block Island in the distance. “We knew there would be something of a view, but we thought it would mainly be in the winter, and we never imagined it would be this much,” says Scott.

Shown: A first-floor bedroom was redesigned as a home office with a wall of built-in cabinetry and a minimalist desk.
SHELVING: California Closets
RUG: Dash & Albert
FLOORING: Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods
DESK: Room & Board
GRASSCLOTH WALL COVERING: Phillip Jeffries

Patio Doors

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Adding up, it turns out, equals much more than the sum of a place’s total square footage. As Scott says, “This house is even more than I had hoped it would be.”

Shown: Sliding patio doors from the dining area open onto a pergola-topped seating space on the deck with a view of the yard and its trees—ideal for casual entertaining.
PATIO DOORS: Marvin Windows and Doors
LANDSCAPE DESIGN: Jenn Nawada
PLANTS: Clark Farms
LANDSCAPE INSTALLATION: Landscape Creations of RI
STONE VENEER: El Dorado

Laundry Room

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The first-floor laundry room has an apron-front sink and navy-painted cabinetry for a clean look.

COUNTERTOPS: Cambria

Girls’ Bath

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

A bath for today—and tomorrow: The two young girls share this upstairs bath with double sinks. Colorful accessories add playful touches to the gray-painted vanity.

SINKS: Kohler
COUNTERTOP: Cambria

Glowing Deck

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Wall sconces, a trio of pendants, and recessed lighting built into the deck steps add a warm glow to this outdoor seating area.

DECK, CABLE RAILING, RECESSED STAIR LIGHTS: Deckorators
OUTDOOR LIGHTING: Alloy LED
LANDSCAPE LIGHTING: Stateline Irrigation Supply
ARBOR/PERGOLA: Walpole Outdoors
ELECTRICAL WORK: Ben Giles, South Shore Electrical Contractors

Kitchen Range

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The cooking area features a gas range with a mosaic tile backsplash, a custom vent hood, and simple white-painted cabinetry.

RANGE: Thermador
RANGE HOOD: Panasonic
BACKSPLASH: Somer Tile

Glass Partition

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

A hinged glass partition above the bathtub keeps water in its place in the upstairs hall bath.

First-Floor Bath

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Blue-painted walls, white floor tile, and gray-blue mosaic accents give the first-floor bathroom a contemporary vibe.

GLASS SHOWER DOOR: DreamLine

Nickel-Gap Walls

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

Nickel-gap walls in the first-floor powder room echo the living area’s fireplace wall located just a few steps down the hall.

Second-Floor Landing

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

A second-floor landing area leads to a seating area/reading alcove with comfy chairs. The younger daughter’s bedroom features a whimsical wall covering.

STAIRCASE: Sweenor Builders

Front Entry

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

The front entry’s original location gained prominence with a new walkway and overhang, and sidelights flanking its blue-painted door.

Floor Plans

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

The original ranch’s footprint was only enlarged by about 25 square feet, to square off a corner of the new dining area. The second floor added another 1,225 square feet, creating a 3,100-square-foot house with three bedrooms, three and a half baths, a mudroom, a laundry, a playroom, and an office.