“I was looking for a place to put my kayak in the water,” says Chip McLaughlin, recalling what for him was a
perfectly natural way to spend some time poking around the seashore when he was in his 20s. Having sum-
mered on Cape Cod as a child, McLaughlin always loved the beach, but on that kayak-toting trip in 1977, he
discovered the idyllic combination of pasture and waterfront that defines Little Compton, Rhode Island.
“Following Route 77 to the end was really the beginning,” he says. “I rented a cottage there a week later and
found my first piece of land that summer. It is right next door to where we live now.”
It wasn’t until 2007, however, that plans for a house began. By then McLaughlin had acquired more
than 12 adjoining acres that extend to the Sakonnet River with views that sweep across the water to Aquid-
neck Island and south to Sakonnet Point and Rhode Island Sound.
In the intervening years — many spent living and working in the Boston area — there was a blur of
activity, including the renovation of a Victorian house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the 1980s with
the help of Judd Brown of Judd Brown Design & Jefferson Group Architects of Pawtucket, Rhode Island,
and marrying Keith Maynard in Cambridge in 2004, after obtaining the first marriage license issued to gay
men in the state of Massachusetts. “Keith
is a fourth-generation Cantabrigian,” says
McLaughlin, “and wanted to be the first
[gays legally] married in Cambridge. We
the window between the kitchen and
summer living room (above left) reminds
homeowner Chip McLaughlin of takeout
stands at the beach. The kitchen (above right)
features a tin ceiling, an island topped in
zebrawood, and a dining alcove with water
views. The exterior design (left) includes early-
1900s-era elements such as eyebrow dormers,
fieldstone walls, and tapered porch columns.
It started with a kayak.