At the end of a winding lane, past oaks and pines, a tranquil stream and pond, and dry-laid stone walls stands a cypress-shingled house built in 1916 as an industrialist’s summer retreat. Although no longer a gentleman’s farm, the house and its 7 acres, in a rural Rhode Island town south of Providence, still retain their gentleness, and that’s what captured the hearts of two people who had been away from their East Coast roots for a long time. “It evoked historic New England to us, but without needing to live in a 1600s house,” says Ed Pitoniak, a Massachusetts native whose first career as a New York City–based magazine editor morphed into
a long tenure as a resort and hospitality executive in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“I loved the land,” says his wife, Kate Barber, an accomplished
textile artist originally from New York’s Long Island. She took it as a
sign of destiny when her Finnish loom fit perfectly in the farmhouse’s
third-floor attic studio.
Although the couple’s move to Rhode Island was prompted by
their two daughters choosing East Coast colleges several years ago,
they have come to regard their connection to the house with a sense of
timelessness. “Our move here wasn’t that random,” says Barber, who
recently discovered that she is a descendant of Anne Hutchinson, one
of the founders of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
As alluring as the property was, however, there was no denying the
place needed work. On the plus side, the house, designed by the well-known Providence architectural firm Jackson, Robertson & Adams,
the vintage chambers stove (above) became a focal point when the
homeowners decided to have it restored. Steel elements added to the room by
architect Gale Goff include the hand-forged ledge and shelf on the bisque
glazed brick wall and the legs of the center island. The wood table was
reconfigured from a much-loved antique table brought from the homeowners’
previous residence. A new glass door leads to the former staff quarters, now
re-purposed into an office and a laundry.