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The Barrington Beach House

TOH TV heads to Rhode Island to restore a forlorn beach house with oceanfront views

Next winter on This Old House, the show will head to New England's smallest state to cover the renovation of a small house in need of a big makeover.

A 1925 seaside cottage in Barrington, Rhode Island, will soon become the permanent home of Geoffrey Allen and Michelle Forcier and their young daughter. Recent transplants from Chicago, the couple relocated to Rhode Island so that their daughter would be closer to her grandparents and the extended family. They rented a house while they prowled the real estate listings for just the right property. When a house they'd been ogling just down the beach from the one they'd rented suddenly came on the market, they knew they'd found "The One."

With its generous views of Narragansett Bay, the location was lovely. The 1,600-square-foot house was anything but. Built as a tiny, seasonal Cape Cod, it had fallen victim to a hodgepodge of poorly planned additions and remodels—most recently in the 1970s—which rendered it dark, dreary, and lacking in character. So Norm Abram and the rest of the TOH TV team will help Geoff and Michelle turn it into a cheerful year-round homestead. Working with architect Mary Brewster and local builder Andrew Tiplady, they plan to open up the house's first floor, relocate an interior staircase, and install several new windows to take advantage of the views. A mudroom, laundry room, and two existing bathrooms will be updated. And some new spaces will appear on the second floor: a third bedroom, a master bath, and a covered porch off the master bedroom. Exterior changes will include a new entryway, a revamped roofline, and new white-cedar shingle siding.

This project will involve a lot more than just aesthetics. While the first floor of the house sits just above the flood zone, it's in the "Zone II" wind zone, which means that it faces particular hazards associated with strong winds of up to 110 miles per hour. So the renovation team will need to find ways to harden it against storms, and to choose materials that can withstand the area's corrosive, salt-laden air.

Finally, TOH will tap local craftspeople to create custom details and spaces that will add much-needed character to this bland little beach house. With Providence just 10 miles north and the historic mansions of Newport not far to the south, the renovation will benefit from the unique architectural heritage of the Ocean State.

New episodes of the Barrington Beach House project begin airing in January on PBS. Check local listings for the dates and times in your area.